Penalty disappoints animal welfare workers

RSPCA CEO Mark Townend was left dismayed at the $2000 penalty imposed by an Ipswich Magistrate for animal welfare offences committed by pet store operator Geoffrey Dawson.

Hundreds of birds had to be put down after being seized from Stocks Produce store leading Mr Townend to believe the court system is out of touch with such offences.

"It's baffling to comprehend the sentence handed down by the Magistrate despite the severe level of neglect that was caused to hundreds of animals in this establishment," Mr Townend said.

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"Sometimes I wonder what planet they reside on, with sentences like this it certainly isn't the same as the other 99 per cent of the population when it comes to animal welfare.

"Mr Dawson was specifically unable to account for animals that were under an Animal Welfare Direction by RSPCA Inspectorate (two could not be later found).

"On top of knowingly selling and displaying animals for sale that were sick, the sheer volume of complaints and veterinary evidence, shows the complete lack of consideration this person and establishment then had for animal welfare.

"The establishment is currently complying with better welfare standards, but it shouldn't have meant hundreds of animals had to suffer and die first."

Mr Townend said the RSPCA thanked people who continued to report animal welfare concerns.

RSPCA chief inspector Daniel Young said while the prosecution was successful in forcing Mr Dawson to rectify issues at his business, the penalty was disappointing.

"The inspectors worked long and hard on this investigation over many months, and spent years previously, attempting to have Mr Dawson improve the conditions at his shop," Mr Young said.

"RSPCA staff and volunteers worked tirelessly following the seizure of over 300 animals from Mr Dawson's business, 200 of which had to be euthanased or died due to their illnesses or injuries.

"Our resources were stretched to capacity, particularly financially.

"So while it is pleasing to see that Mr Dawson has now made the necessary improvements and raised standards of care to meet what is expected by the community and the law, the fine of $2000 can sadly only be seen as a setback for animal welfare matters in courts.

"We know that the community wants the courts to take animal neglect seriously. That fine would be disappointing if only one animal was a victim of the offending, but when there are 300 animals that paid the ultimate price with their lives, and the person convicted was making a living from these animals, then that is heartbreaking for everyone involved - RSPCA, our valuable donors, and the wider community."