ABANDONED, tethered to a tree and left for dead. This was the cruel fate a Maltese Terrier faced on New Year’s Day.
Unable to move, wrapped up in its own restraints from fear and yelping for someone to come to its rescue, the canine, dubbed simply as “Little One”, had no water, food or real chance of survival.
That was until Paul Norfolk came along and discovered it on an early morning bush walk in the Alison Hone Nature Reserve, 10kms out of Goulburn on Crookwell Road.
Over the Christmas/New Year period more than 280 dogs were dumped across the state and more than 890 animals found their way into the RSPCA’s care.
Mr Norfolk remembers the day he found Little One distinctly. He had woken early, with a clear head, and was keen to make the best of the sunny January morning.
A bush walk seemed idyllic however it soon took a sour turn when he found the helpless creature.
“I heard this yapping and decided to investigate,” he recalled.
“There was a rope tied around its neck to the tree and, as dogs do, it had wrapped itself around the tree. It had no water and it had been a hot couple of days. I walked around the reserve looking for people but it soon became quite clear what had happened.”
The dog had been dumped.
“I brought her home (and gave her some water) and she just drank and drank and drank,” he said.
“It was a cruel way to try and get rid of a dog. I have no theories as to why someone would do that… she’s well-behaved, groomed, clean and had been looked after which makes it unusual for her to be dumped so cruelly.”
Mr Norfolk took Little One to the pound two days later in the hope of finding its owner however a quick scan revealed the pooch wasn’t microchipped.
He was also told by council staff that by law the dog had to be put down after seven days if she wasn’t claimed.
As an animal lover, the news didn’t sit well with him. Now, he plans to pay the $280 fee to have the pup registered, micro-chipped, vaccinated and released from the pound into his care temporarily, until he can find a suitable carer.
“I’m hoping for a happy ever after, but if they can’t find the owner and if it’s a choice between her getting the needle or me looking after her, I will go back and take responsibility for her,” Mr Norfolk said.*
Little One wasn’t only animal abandoned on New Year’s Day. The local RSPCA received a report that four cats (a mother and three kittens) had been dumped in a sack in Chiswick Street near the back of Rocky Hill.
When officers went out to investigate two of the felines escaped into the bush but, luckily, the other two were successfully rescued. The RSPCA is currently investigating the crime and say they have a number of leads.
Abandoning an animal is a serious crime and carries with it a maximum penalty of a $5500 fine and/or six months jail. If the animal dies, the charge becomes aggravated cruelty and the maximum penalty increases to a fine of up to $22,000 and/or up to two years prison.
RSPCA regional inspector Jean Sprague told the Post that dumping was a deplorable crime and that it was completely unnecessary.
While she couldn’t comment specifically on Little One, because no official report had been filed with her before the time of print, she said situations like this were not uncommon.
“Certainly in my years as an inspector I have seen numerous cases like that where dogs have been tied to trees and dumped in the bush. It happens and it is completely unreasonable and unnecessary to do it,” she said.
Every year the RSPCA receives thousands of complaints about animals being either dumped or neglected. One of the most common offences is people going away on holidays and leaving their pets with insufficient food or water.
Inspector Sprague said there were some very simple steps that could be taken to avoid situations of animal neglect or cruelty, the major one being considering whether or not you can actually care for the animal before bringing it home.
“Don’t buy or take on a pet on an impulse,” she said.
“Think about it, think about the implication and think about the cost of owning a pet… Before a person takes on the responsibility of an animal they have to realise that there are years ahead of them that they are going to have that animal and it might be nice to have an animal now but what about when they are going away on holidays? What about when they have vet bills? Basically if you take on an animal you are taking responsibility for that animal’s care and welfare for the next 10 to 15 years.”
Inspector Sprague also said it was extremely important to ensure pets were desexed, to avoid unwanted or ferrel animals.
“If it finally comes down to the point where you decide you can’t possibly keep that animal anymore have the decency to take it to a place where it can be cared for like the Council or a shelter or a place of authority that can cater for that animal.
Don’t just dump it. It’s not acceptable and it is an offence and if you are caught you will go before the magistrate… and if you’re found guilty you will have a criminal record which will stay with you for the rest of your life.”
If anybody has any information about the abandoned kittens, contact the RSPCA on 9770 7555.
*UPDATE: The pound has since contacted Mr Norfolk and reported that Little One's owners had inquired at the facility and had collected her on Friday. We are told they had no idea about what happened at the Alison Hone Reserve and that it was the first time she had wandered outside the yard.