Couple left their dogs home alone to die

GUILTY: Jasmine Heathcote and Luke Fraser were charged with six counts of animal cruelty in Ipswich Magistrates Court.
GUILTY: Jasmine Heathcote and Luke Fraser were charged with six counts of animal cruelty in Ipswich Magistrates Court. David Nielsen

ONE dog was found dead and two others badly dehydrated after they were locked in an Ipswich house during a heat wave - while their owners went on a camping trip.

The dogs, named Narla, Nizmo and Boots, suffered for six days with no water and minimal food as temperatures reached the high 30s in early December last year.

They were left in the Leichhardt home of Jazmin Jayne Heathcote, 19, and her partner Luke Tory Fraser, 20, who set off on a weekend camping trip.

The pair pleaded guilty to six counts of breach of duty of care and one count each of failure to provide appropriate water and appropriate living conditions when they appeared in Ipswich Magistrates Court.

Neighbours became suspicious of the dogs' plight when the smell of Boots' decomposing body reached their home.

They could also hear the howls of Nizmo, who was found sitting beside the dead fox terrier.

The neighbours called the RSPCA and police on December 9.

It wasn't until police and RSPCA officials entered the property that the dog's pitiful plight became evident.

They found Boots dead on the kitchen floor. In the laundry, Narla was chained by the neck so tightly it could not move away from its own faeces.

A chunk of bread was found next to Narla and an open bag of dog food on the kitchen bench.

The two surviving dogs were severely dehydrated, but recovered. They later had to be put down by the RSPCA because of their aggressive behaviour.

RSPCA chief inspector of prosecutions Annabel Buchanan asked for Heathcote and Fraser to be fined $10,000 each.

But Magistrate Donna MacCallum said given their financial situation it was likely the unemployed pair would never fully pay the fine.

"A fine is going to be a debt that you will have over your heads for years unless you're going to get full time employment it's going to be there and not paid off," she said.

Ms MacCallum placed the pair on two years probation, ordered them to perform 120 hours community service and banned them from owning animals for three years.

"Animals are as vulnerable as children. They can not tell us what they want, so we have a very high level of responsibility," she said.

Ms MacCallum said hearing the facts read out was quite distressing.

"You wouldn't go away for six days and leave your children to fend for themselves?" she said.

"You are responsible for their vet care, food, water and shelter. If you are not going to provide that for them you shouldn't own an animal.

"It's an obligation and you must ensure you fulfil that obligation."



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