Two men have been convicted and ordered to pay a total of $1500 in reparations for encouraging their dogs to attack live goats.
Richard McKee, 34, and James Manukau, 27, were convicted on charges of wilful ill-treatment of an animal resulting in death at Gisborne District Court today.
McKee was sentenced to 100 hours' community work, three months' community detention, and ordered to pay $1000 reparation. Manukau was sentenced to 100 hours' community work and ordered to pay $500 reparation.
Investigations by the Gisborne SPCA began in 2014 when McKee posted videos on Facebook showing him restraining a goat while encouraging two dogs to attack it.
The footage shows the dogs biting the goat's face, lips, nose and neck for several minutes while McKee is laughing and shouting.
A veterinarian concluded the dogs inflicted significant violence on the goat, encouraged by McKee, and the prolonged suffering and slow death of the animal was unacceptable.
The following month, Gisborne SPCA was made aware of three videos posted on Manukau's Facebook showing McKee baiting a second goat while Manukau filmed him. A total of four videos showing the incident were obtained from a search of their properties.
The graphic videos show an injured goat being set upon by dogs.
The vet believed the goat would have been in pain from a fractured leg and the prolonged attack by the dogs. A high level of violence was displayed and McKee and Manukau encouraged and enjoyed the violence.
"This case is an example of an alarming increase in what you could call 'recreational cruelty'," says SPCA New Zealand chief executive Ric Odom.
Mr Odom says this tends to feature young men often filming extreme cruelty to so-called pest species such as possums, goats, and rabbits.
"Let’s be very clear about this: New Zealand legislation is designed to protect all animals against this kind of abuse." he says.
"Even though the act of hunting and killing an animal is a lawful activity in New Zealand, once an animal has been 'captured' for the purpose of killing it, people are legally obliged to kill it in such a way that the animal doesn’t suffer unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress."
"It is simply unacceptable to encourage dogs to attack a wild animal that has been captured and we will vigorously investigate anyone who does so."
Mr Odom called the incidents unacceptable and says they will continue to investigate anyone who acts in the same way.
Judge JC Down said in court not all hunters will be aware of the codes of practice, in which animals must be humanely dispatched as soon as possible, but they are still subject to the law.
"It is often stated that ignorance of the law is no defence and there is no clearer example of that than in this case."