“Boy”, a 5-year-old Mastiff cross, was already cowering on his back in Dockery Ave, Napier, when he was struck with a baseball bat on the 2nd of August, 2015. The blow, described as a “sickening thud” by a witness, shattered his right-front leg and left him yelping in pain.

The witness called the SPCA and Boy was seized and taken for veterinary treatment – and so began a medical and legal process that would take nearly a year to play out.

After numerous complications and many months of treatment, Boy’s leg eventually began to mend. Concurrently, we produced a prosecution file, and charges of ill-treatment were laid under the Animal Welfare Act. The offender denied the incident, so we were relying heavily upon the eye-witness to prove our case. The witness felt very intimated by the prospect of giving evidence in court, and having to identify the offender. Therefore, it came as no surprise to us that when the case was finally heard in May 2016, the witness did not show up at court. The judge did not allow any further adjournments so the case was dismissed. The offender walked free, and our chances of getting justice for Boy – and recovering our considerable expenses – evaporated.

Boy’s rehabilitation was also not going to plan. Although his leg had healed, he showed strong and unpredictable aggression toward other dogs and some people.  We knew it would be irresponsible to allow him in back in the community, so we made the difficult decision to euthanase him.

Boy’s case reminded us all of how difficult animal enforcement often is. The animals cannot speak for themselves, and the threshold for proving a criminal case is high. Boy also reminded us of the challenges of rehabilitating abused dogs. Despite every effort, sometimes the scars run too deep, and our ethical obligations to protect the community from potentially dangerous dogs must take precedence.