Tough justice for woman guilty of animal cruelty

Tough Justice for Woman Guilty of Animal Cruelty
Thursday, 9 February, 2012
Johannesburg, South Africa

One of the toughest judgments ever for animal cruelty in South Africa was handed down by a Krugersdorp court today.

Antoinette van Wyk (34), a mother of three, was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for five years, plus a further 12 months house arrest after pleading guilty to animal cruelty after leaving her pet dog to suffer in agony after one of its back legs had been ripped off.

In addition, Van Wyk will have to pay reparation for the veterinary costs incurred trying to save the dog’s life after he was rescued. She is banned from ever owning an animal again and may also never own a firearm.

In September 2009, Van Wyk left her pet dog a Jack Russell terrier named “Jack” lying in the driveway of her home in Krugersdorp for at least 24 hours after its leg had been ripped off at the hip. Concerned neighbours eventually called animal welfare group Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW), for help and the dog was rescued by founder Cora Bailey and staff. Vets battled for days to save the dog’s life before eventually ending his suffering by administering humane euthanasia.

Lisa Cant-Haylett, of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said the sentence was one of the toughest on record for animal cruelty. CLAW is a project of IFAW and provides primary veterinary health-care support and emergency assistance to pets in impoverished communities throughout Gauteng, South Africa.

“This sentence is a victory and a salute to animal welfare,” Cant-Haylett said . “It sends a strong message that courts will get tough on animal abusers.”

Cora Bailey founder of CLAW said after the sentencing: “No words exist to describe the hell that poor little dog went through, while his owner–the person he would have trusted and relied on the most–simply stepped past him as he lay helpless and tortured by pain.

“It is yet another example of how the guardian of the dog inexplicably did not accept the responsibility that comes with owning a pet. Caring for a dog goes much further then only feeding the dog,” she said.

Bailey commented it was one of the worst cases of animal abuse she had ever witnessed in the more than 20 years she has worked in the animal welfare field.

Supporters of CLAW protested inside and outside the court brandishing massive posters showing pictures of the fatally wounded Jack Russell terrier, and others, calling for “Justice for Jack” and “No Excuse for Animal Abuse”.

It is not known how the dog came to lose its leg, which had been torn off from the hip socket. By the time CLAW was able to rescue the dog, the wound was already infected with maggots.

The case of the mutilated Jack Russell took two years to come to court and caused outrage among pet lovers worldwide.

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Cora Bailey (CLAW)
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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Jan Hannah, Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Kate Nattrass Atema, Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters