Pups left to die - Falls Creek man’s hefty penalty in cruelty case
article listed on 30 November 2009
A FALLS Creek puppy farmer has been hit with fines and costs totalling more than $155,000 after being convicted in Nowra Local Court on Friday of several counts of animal cruelty.
Dario (David) Baena, 60, of the Old Princes Highway Falls Creek, was also banned from owning any animals for 10 years, after nearly 200 were seized during RSPCA raids.
RSPCA NSW chief inspector David O’Shannessy said conditions on the property were “deplorable”.
Police responded to neighbour complaints about conditions on the property in October last year, and immediately called in the RSPCA, which made several visits in a week.
On the first visit officers took away a female shih tzu which had a puppy stuck in its birth canal, and another dead puppy nearby tangled in electrical wire.
More dead puppies were to be found in coming days, some of them tied together with wire that had resulted in one or both being strangled.
There were also “a couple of bags of dead pups,” Mr O’Shannessy said.
The shih tzu’s pups included one with wire wrapped around its legs, and another with wire around what was left of its umbilical cord.
During the following days RSPCA officers removed another 185 dogs and seven cats, some of which were later put down because of problems possibly caused by malnutrition.
The property was set up for intensive breeding to provide large numbers of puppies to pet stores, but evidence the RSPCA presented to the court said insufficient care was paid to the animals.
Piles of putrid, rotting meat were also found in various locations, with conditions so bad officers had to have exhaust fans brought in just so they could access some areas.
“This is one of the worst properties that we’ve been to,” Mr O’Shannessy said.
“These conditions were a lot worse than other properties.”
While Baena argued his home was ransacked by three masked and armed men the day before the RSPCA visit, and he had been abducted by the men before jumping out of their car and ending up in hospital, he admitted neglecting the animals.
In February Baena pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated animal cruelty, eight counts of committing an act of animal cruelty, two counts of failing to provide vet treatment, and seven counts each of failing to provide sufficient ventilation and failing to ensure housing was kept clean and hygienic.
However further charges were laid in May when RSPCA officials visited the property to hand over paperwork, and again found animals in poor condition including one wearing an illegal electric shock collar.
Other animals were in need of veterinary treatment, resulting in the RSPCA laying a further 10 charges.
While Baena was not in court on Friday, Magistrate Doug **** found him guilty of all charges.
In delivering his sentence Mr **** noted he “had the unfortunate duty of watching the DVD footage” and that it was his “responsibility to protect animals.”
He imposed fines of more than $20,000, which left Baena facing a total penalty of $155,312.23 including professional costs and court costs.
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