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Man says he tried to care for dog

A man charged with animal abuse told Magistrates' Court he was trying to help the suffering pitbull, which he had given away years earlier.

Kurt Dowling, 30, said he took nine-year-old Venom to a veterinarian after a dog warden contacted him about the animal's poor condition.

“When I went and actually looked at the dog and saw what he looked like, I felt bad for the dog,” he said. “I was upset. I thought I was going to do what needed to be done and take care of the dog.”

However the dog was taken from his custody while still on medication to treat its worms, he said.

The Farm Lane, Warwick resident took the stand in his own defence yesterday. He denies a charge of permitting unnecessary suffering, pain and injury to be caused to a dog.

The court previously heard from Gaelle Roth who said the dog was “skinny to the point of starvation” and covered with old scars when brought to Ettrick Animal Hospital after being seized.

Yesterday, Mr Dowling said he got Venom as a puppy but had to give him up in 2007. Kijon Steede agreed to care for the dog.

“I had no place to house the dog any more. I didn't want to kill him, so I found someone who said they could take care of the dog,” Mr Dowling told the court.

“Whenever I saw him I asked how the dog was doing. I care about the dog, but I didn't have it any more.”

Mr Steede initially kept the dog in Somerset, however Mr Dowling said that at some point the animal was moved to what he believed was Mr Steede's girlfriend's home, just a short distance from his own residence.

A dog warden called him about Venom's health in December, 2010, Mr Dowling said. He told the warden that the dog was no longer his but agreed to take it to Dr Roth for treatment.

Mr Dowling said that he and Dr Roth discussed the possibility of putting the animal to sleep, but he decided against it.

Dr Roth prescribed the animal antibiotics, pain killers and worm medicine, but told him not to start using the worm medicine until the antibiotics were finished.

The antibiotic treatment was supposed to last ten days, however Mr Dowling said the dog lost its appetite and was experiencing diarrhoea and vomiting. In an effort to maintain the dog's weight, he said he halved the dosage of antibiotics without contacting Dr Roth. He said he found the dog's appetite returned somewhat.

Shortly after he began to treat the animal for its worms, he was contacted and told it had been seized by the dog warden.

“My common sense told me they couldn't have taken the dog for anything other than its licence,” he said. “I was doing everything else, so my mind told me it must be the licence.”

Mr Dowling told the court he then went to the Department of Environmental Protection offices and licensed the animal in his name. He was told that the dog had been taken to the vets to be examined.

“They said they were running tests and they would get back to me when they could give the dog back,” he said. “Then I got a call from the SPCA, maybe in February. They left a message at my home and asked me to come in.

“I tried to have a conversation with them, but they were adamant that they were going to put the animal cruelty case against me.”

Crown counsel Tawana Tannock questioned Mr Dowling about a conversation with the animal warden in May 2010, saying that Mr Dowling indicated that he was going to take the dog back. Mr Dowling responded that he could not remember any such conversation, but that he didn't think there was any reason to take back custody of the dog at that time.

“They said they got a report that the animal had no food or water, but when they got there he was getting water,” he said. “He was taking care of the dog.

“It's not like the dog was in the same condition it was in December. Otherwise they would have taken the dog then.”

Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo adjourned the matter until February 27, extending Mr Dowling's bail until then.

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Published February 14, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated February 14, 2012 at 6:10 am)

Man says he tried to care for dog

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