Siblings banned from owning pets after starving dog – Queensland Times


A pet German Shepherd was so grossly starved it put on 5kg, or one-fifth of its body weight, three weeks after being seized by an RSPCA inspector.

Caleb O’Brien, 21, unemployed, and his sister Mary O’Brien, 23, both of Runcorn, were banned from owning any pets for a year after pleading guilty to one count each of breaching the Animal Care and Protection Act this morning (March 5).

“Your disregard for this dog’s welfare is equally as poor as your sister’s,” Holland Park Magistrate Simon Young told Mr O’Brien.

“When properly cared for this dog gained 4.9kg in three weeks, a 20 per cent increase in weight.

“It just shows how poorly this dog was cared for.”



RSPCA solicitor Vanessa Lyons told the court that the dog, called FaFine, was grossly underweight when seized on January 23 and the only water found at the siblings’ share house was a nearly empty bucket.

“The inspector felt FaFine, who was emaciated, and could physically feel her ribs, hips and spine protruding through her thick and matted coat,” a statement of facts she tendered to the court said.

The O’Briens, who both pleaded guilty, did not dispute the statement of facts and did not say anything in their defence.

FaFine was immediately seized and taken to the RSPCA shelter in Wacol where she was weighed and found to be only 17.8kg.

That was deemed to be a “one” on the RSPCA weight scale, which goes up to nine.

A score of one is considered emaciated and nine is considered obese.


Matted fur on Fafine's rear leg area.

Matted fur on Fafine’s rear leg area.


“FaFine was really hungry when she was taken to the vet clinic and when offered food she ate ravenously,” the statement said.

“It was (the vet’s) opinion that the underweight and terrible coat and nail condition had been present for at least four weeks. The matting had been present for at least a week.”

When an inspector spoke to Ms O’Brien on January 24 she told them FaFine had been bought as a puppy in 2017, the statement read.

Ms O’Brien allegedly told the inspector “FaFine hardly eats, she does not eat much” despite claiming she fed the dog biscuits for breakfast and raw mince for lunch every day.



Mr O’Brien allegedly told the inspector he paid for grooming last year and was concerned about FaFine’s weight, but said she was his sister’s dog and her responsibility.

The statement said he allegedly told the inspector he believed the dog’s poor condition was because his sister was away from the share house most of the time.

The RSPCA said the dog was still in its care and was continuing to improve.

Mr Young fined each sibling $1200 and ordered they pay the RSPCA’s costs. He did not record a conviction against either of them.


Mr O'Brien leaves court after being fined and banned from owning pets for a year.

Mr O’Brien leaves court after being fined and banned from owning pets for a year.



Originally published as Siblings banned from owning pets after starving dog



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