NEGLECT: Ava the t dog was seized by the RSPCA after it was neglected by her owner, Tammy Lee Chapman.
NEGLECT: Ava the t dog was seized by the RSPCA after it was neglected by her owner, Tammy Lee Chapman. Contributed

Woman forced to pay $80k after neglecting pregnant dog

A BUNDABERG woman will be forced to pay almost $80,000 to the RSPCA after neglecting her pregnant dog to the point where the dog could have died.

Tammy Lee Chapman, 31 was found guilty at Bundaberg Magistrates Court on Thursday to two counts of breaching her duty of care to the german shepherd named Ava, who was found wandering the streets on April 24 last year and taken to a vet by a council officer concerned for her health.

Magistrate John Smith had reserved his decision until Thursday after a two-day trial in February.

During the trial, RSPCA Wide Bay inspector Penny Flaherty gave evidence that on April 13 last year, she visited Chapman's home after she had received a complaint but nobody was home.

Ms Flaherty caught a glimpse of Ava through the fence and was concerned enough to phone Chapman and discuss increasing food for Ava and establishing a feeding plan.

Chapman told the court she took Ms Flaherty's advice and had been feeding Ava three times a day before going on holiday on April 24, leaving Ava at home to be fed by a friend.

But when two-year-old Ava arrived at the vets on April 24 she was emaciated, heavily pregnant and suffering from tapeworm infestation.

HEALTHY: Ava today.
HEALTHY: Ava today. Contributed

Dr Susan Carroll, who initially treated Ava said she was "very thin” with a body score of two out of nine - with one being extremely emaciated and nine being overweight.

In the care of RSPCA, Ava gave birth to 10 pups, one had to euthanised.

On Thursday, Mr Smith told the court that on the evidence provided by the RSPCA including two expert witness testimonies, the RSPCA had proven beyond reasonable doubt that Chapman neglected to provide food to satisfy the dog's requirements for energy and placed the dog's health and the health of the unborn pups at severe risk.

"The overwhelming conclusion was that all the pregnant dog needed was food in sufficient quantities,” Mr Smith said.

Representing the RSPCA, solicitor Nicole McEldowney told the court the RSPCA was seeking compensation for costs relating to; flying witnesses to Bundaberg; professional costs and; boarding and vet costs for Ava and her pups for the past 388 days totalling $79,405.59.

Ms McEldowney said Chapman had been offered a number of opportunities to mitigate the costs by surrendering her dog and the pups to the RSCPA, the first being on April 26 last year.

On that occasion, Ms Flaherty explained in detail that costs would be sought and would increase the longer Ava wasn't surrendered.

Chapman declined the offer on all occasions.

Mr Smith ordered Chapman to pay the $79,405.59 to the RSPCA within six months.

She was also fined $1000 and the conviction was recorded.

Chapman is prohibited from owning, caring or possessing any animal for five years unless authorised by RPSCA.

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