On 23 March 2019 RSPCA Inspector Norton Verran attended at the Launceston Dogs Home in response to a complaint received regarding a male Rottweiler dog known as Kato. Kato had been surrendered to the Dogs Home on that day. The dog had a very large swelling on the left hind leg. The dog had been found by an officer of Launceston Council and brought to the Dogs Home. The dog was surrendered to the Dogs Home by Kaya Quilliam, partner of the defendant.

On 1 April 2019 Inspector Verran took Kato to the Kings Meadows Veterinary Clinic where he spoke with Dr Angela Offord. Dr Offord said that Kato was brought to the clinic by the owners in the previous year, on 2 July 2018. Dr Offord wrote a report on her observations of Kato on 1 April 2018 and on 2 July 2018.

Commenting on her observations of Kato on 2 July 2018, Dr Offord observed: “He was 10/10ths lame (non weight bearing). Below the hock there was significant swelling and his lower limb was swinging when held up (grossly unstable) and turned out to the side (valgus). X rays revealed a probable fracture of the III and IV tarsal bone of the L tarsus. The joint(s) was laterally unstable indicative of medial ligament(s) damage. Pain relief was administered and dispensed. A short lateral temporary splint was applied for comfort and some stability whilst second, third and fourth opinions were sought on the X rays and treatment options. Primary repair necessitating internal fixation and stabilisation was recommended as the best option for return to function bar complications. Conservative treatment is not recommended because permanent instability and chronic pain would be the end result.”

Dr Offord said she had discussed treatment for the fracture with Nathan Quilliam, who had attended the clinic with Kato on 2 July 2018. Dr Offord said she had told Mr Quilliam that he would have to make another appointment for the dog with the clinic as the splint was temporary, and a decision would have to be made regarding treatment options for what was a serious fracture. Dr Offord also said that Mr Quilliam did not make an appointment for treatment of the dog, either with Kings Meadows Veterinary Clinic, or with Meander Valley Veterinary Services. Dr Offord said she had consulted with Dr Roger Blackwell at Meander Valley Veterinary Services about treatment for the dog, including possible surgery.

Dr Offord’s report on her observations of Kato on 1 April 2019 included: “on presentation Kato was 10/10ths lame on the L hind leg. The area below the hock was significantly swollen and the foot was laterally deviated. X rays showed extensive degenerative joint disease, separation of the calcaneus and IV metatarsal joint space and malalignment of all the bones in the joint(s). In addition there is periarticular swelling and valgus. Spontaneous ankylosis (bony fusion) has occurred.”

Dr Offord stated “it is my observation that Kato’s health and welfare has been impacted because recommended treatment options were not pursued in a timely manner. Loss of motion, instability and pain (unnecessary suffering) have been the result”.

On 16 May 2019 Kaya Quilliam, the wife of Nathan Quilliam, was interviewed under caution by Inspector Verran and Inspector Lisa Edwards of the RSPCA. Ms Quilliam said that she shared ownership of the dog with her husband, Nathan Quilliam. She also said that she took Kato to the Kings Meadows Veterinary Clinic after he had originally injured his leg and on about 12 August 2018 the dog had ran away.

Staff at the Kings Meadows Veterinary Clinic advised that the dog’s leg was subsequently amputated by a veterinary surgeon.

On 7 April 2020 Nathan Quilliam was interviewed under caution by Inspector Lisa Edwards. Mr Quilliam said Kato was looked after by him and Kaya Quilliam. Mr Quilliam said that he had taken Kato to the Kings Meadows Veterinary Clinic.

On 30th June 2021 in the Launceston Magistrates Court, Magistrate Geason convicted Nathan Quilliam of animal cruelty and sentenced him to pay a fine of $3,500.