Pets chained in filth with no food
STRESSED by her husband's medical issues, and with frequent visits to him in hospital, Kellie Ann Knight says she did not deliberately neglect her animals on a Rosedale property.
A pink female pig named Peppa, Tinkerbell the miniature fox terrier, and Australian red cattle dog Bundy were among the animals named in an RSPCA prosecution case against her.
Bundy was so emaciated that he was unable to stand.
The case involved a dozen charges under the Animal Care and Protection Act, the RSPCA stating Knight had failed in her duty of care to the animals. No evidence was offered on other charges which were dismissed.
Knight, 43, pleaded guilty in Bundaberg Magistrates Court to committing the animal offences between May 5 and May 12.
She was ordered to pay RSPCA costs of $5607 and its legal costs of $1500.
Magistrate Belinda Merrin found that the struggling mother of five was on parenting payments with no capacity to pay a fine. The RSPCA costs were referred to SPER with Knight to work out a payment plan.
Knight was also placed on a 15-month prohibition order, during which time she must not own any more animals than she currently has.
However, Ms Merrin did not return Bundy to her. A refusal had been sought by the RSPCA, with before and after photos of the dog tendered to the court.
Prosecutor Nicole McEldowney told the court an RSPCA inspector and a vet visited the Rosedale rural property in May following contact from police about animal welfare.
Seven pigs, six dogs, two snakes, four turkeys and one goat were found.
The animals were assessed and charges laid relating to some of the pigs, dogs and puppies.
Four of the dogs had been tethered on chains and all six confined in a dirt area with no bedding and no evident water or food.
Bundy was tethered on a 2m long chain, "emaciated with all ribs, hip bones and spine clearly visible, lethargic and unable to stand or walk". Tinkerbell was on a 2m chain, underweight and lethargic.
A black sow was found emaciated, its spine clearly visible and housed in a 3m by 3m horse stable on a dirt floor with puddles of water, and little room to move because of items in the stable. Three pink sows were confined in a very small pen, 2m by 2m, with no evidence of available water or food. The sows were described as being lethargic, dehydrated and slightly underweight.
Tinkerbell and Bundy were seized for urgent veterinary care and treated immediately for flea and tick infestations, and hookworm.
Knight told the court her long term de facto Rob Turner was ill for months before the offences with a heart condition, then had a leg amputated below the knee because of a foot infection after stepping on the prong of a garden fork.
She said he had been at Bundaberg Hospital every day for more than four months to get his leg dressed.
"My life was very hectic having five kids and a six- month-old baby, school and hospital," Knight said.
"When he (Mr Turner) came out of a coma three days later his lung filled with fluid. They couldn't operate on his foot until they fixed his heart.
"He had a double heart bypass and his lungs filled with fluid again.
"My life was very hectic, and yes I did neglect my animals. It's hard to be a supermum. I let everything slide at home."
Knight said she had a vet report for Peppa the pig, and a receipt for dog wormers bought before the RSPCA inspector turned up.
"I would like to have had Bundy back. He is over 10 years old. They did return Tinkerbell," she said.
Ms Merrin refused, saying that, from the photos, Bundy's health had shown a "quite extraordinary" improvement.