Pregnant dog was very thin, vets tells court
A WOMAN has faced Bundaberg Magistrates Court accused of failing to adequately feed a pregnant german shepherd to the point that the dog was at risk of death or losing her unborn litter of puppies.
Walkervale woman Tammy Lee Chapman, 31, pleaded not guilty to two counts of breaching her duty of care to the animal, found wandering the streets on April 24 and taken to a vet by a council officer concerned about her health.
During the trial, which began yesterday, RSPCA Wide Bay area inspector Penny Flaherty gave evidence that she first went to Chapman's residence on April 13 after a complaint but found no one at home.
She said at the time she saw the dog, called Ava, through a gap in the fence and, while she couldn't see bones protruding from the dog, was concerned enough to contact Chapman via phone the following day and speak to her about the need to provide adequate food.
In recorded conversations between the pair played to the court, Ms Flathery could be heard telling Chapman that Ava was severely underweight when picked up less than two weeks later.
"She's lost a substantial amount of weight since I saw her 11 or 12 days ago," she said.
"She could have been at immediate risk of death or the puppies not surviving.
"The dog didn't get to that state overnight.
"There's no getting around the fact that the dog was in extremely poor condition, complicated by the fact she was pregnant, and you failed to have her seen by a vet."
The court heard Chapman told Ms Flathery that a vet had seen Ava and advised her of her due date.
But when Ms Flathery challenged Chapman after making inquires with the vet, Chapman admitted she may heave been mistaken.
In another recorded phone conversation, Chapman told Ms Flathery that a friend who used to work as a vet nurse in News South Wales checked the dog as she was unable to secure a vet appointment.
Also giving evidence yesterday was Dr Susan Carroll, the veterinary who initially treated Ava between April 24 and 26.
"She was very thin, in very poor body condition," she told the court.
Dr Carroll said Ava was assessed as having a body condition score of two out of nine, with one being extremely emaciated and nine being overweight.
"She had no fat - you could put your fingers between her ribs and see her spine easily," she said.
Representing herself, Chapman suggested to Dr Carroll that Ava could have been off her food in the last few weeks of her pregnancy.
"She was very hungry when she came in," Dr Carroll said.
"There was no way she was was saying 'I don't want to eat'."
When Chapman asked RSPCA chief vet Anne Chester, who also gave evidence yesterday, about why no tests were done to see if Ava was suffering a condition that could have prevented her putting on weight, Dr Chester said there was no need.
"The dog was fed and it gained weight," she said.
The matter, before Magistrate John Smith, is expected to continue today.