26 Jan 2013

Animal cruelty charges dismissed

6:04 am on 26 January 2013

A Waikato dairy farmer who admitted cruelly treating wild pigs by allowing his dogs to attack them as a training method and put it on You-Tube has walked free in Hamilton District Court.

Logan Dawson, 24, on Friday pleaded guilty to four charges under the Animal Welfare Act including two of baiting a boar - the first time the charge has been laid in New Zealand.

He was let off after the judge ruled that a conviction would far outweigh the gravity of the offence.

The actions of a hunter to allow a boar to be bailed up by dogs while it is slaughtered is legal in the wild, but not domestically.

Mr Dawson's lawyer Thomas Sutcliffe told the court that his client was a novice hunter and had taken advice on training his dogs from hunting books, television programmes and off the internet.

He said Mr Dawson never knew that what he had done was illegal.

The SPCA laid the charges after footage of the training was put on YouTube.

The Crown told the court on Friday it was not normal practice to train hunting dogs in a way that caused unnecessary pain and distress and described the offending as moderately serious.

Judge Rosemary Riddell accepted the defence's portrayal of Logan Dawson has a young man with a bright future and an unblemished record as a farmer in animal welfare.

She discharged him, saying a conviction would seriously affect his career prospects in farming and was out of proportion to the gravity of the offence.

Mr Dawson was ordered to pay costs of just over $8000 and a $500 donation to the SPCA.

The SPCA said Mr Dawson was fortunate to escape penalty, but accepted that his personal circumstances led the judge to her decision.

However, northern regional manager Sue Baudet said the decision would not deter the SPCA from pursuing anyone who treated animals cruelly.