In January 2022 RSPCA became aware of a German Shepherd in poor condition at a property in Hillwood. Animal Welfare Officers attended and saw the dog was very thin – they provided him with some food, which he devoured. When they came back a few days later, they met with the dogs owner and gave her a legally-binding instruction to feed Jax properly.

Coming back again in March, the officers found the owner had not complied with the instruction – Jax was still in poor condition. At this point, the officers took Jax into RSPCA care and got a veterinary report on him.

The RSPCA Prosecutor decided to commence a prosecution against Tenille Jago, Jax’s owner. The court proceedings were long and drawn out, with Ms Jago not appearing in court on multiple occasions. Despite repeated requests, Ms Jago refused to surrender Jax to the RSPCA, meaning he couldn’t be re-homed.

Eventually in September 2023 the matter came to hearing, but Ms Jago did not turn up to court. The RSPCA Prosecutor applied to the court to have the ownership of Jax transferred to the RSPCA, and that is what happened. Jax’s case was eventually finally heard on 26 March this year, and even then Ms Jago did not appear. It is unusual for this to happen, but Magistrate Ken Stanton decided to hear the case in Ms Jago’s absence. He convicted her of cruelty, imposed a fine of $900 and awarded costs to the RSPCA for expenses incurred in Jax’s care.

RSPCA believes the Animal Welfare Act needs to be changed to say that when RSPCA takes an animal because it is neglected, its ownership will automatically go to the RSPCA unless the owner opposes that in court. This will avoid this sort of situation where animals are trapped in limbo and cannot be re-homed until lengthy court processes are completed.