Vineyard dog breeder convicted of animal cruelty

TORTURE: Deceased dogs in a freezer among other frozen meats, a female dog showing head wounds, minimal water and more. Just some of the disturbing things found by inspectors as a dog breeding facility in Vineyard. Picture: RSPCA.
TORTURE: Deceased dogs in a freezer among other frozen meats, a female dog showing head wounds, minimal water and more. Just some of the disturbing things found by inspectors as a dog breeding facility in Vineyard. Picture: RSPCA.

Former Vineyard dog breeder Todd Baker has been convicted of 15 counts of animal cruelty after 18 dogs were found in poor condition requiring veterinary treatment.

Dogs presented with severe and painful medical conditions including burnt testicles, a dead fly embedded in an infected ear canal, ulcers and open wounds and variety of serious veterinary conditions.

They were also found emaciated, without any food, water or shelter. Several deceased dogs were found in freezers, and a partially burned dog was found in full view of the remaining dogs.

Mr Baker was sentenced on March 15 to a section 9 Good Behaviour Bond for a period of three years for each charge to be served concurrently, prohibited from owning any animals for ten years, directed to attend Penrith Police Station to have his fingerprints taken, and ordered to pay veterinary and boarding costs to the RSPCA of $83,577.80.

RSPCA NSW inspectors attended a property in Vineyard on 1 March 2016 in response to a complaint about the welfare of dogs. This property had previously been used by “Herizon Kennels” who bred dogs for sale.

Inspectors were unable to gain access at this time and contacted Mr Baker about the issue. A variety of text messages, calls and emails were sent to the inspector over the following days, some of which were threatening and aggressive.

Due to the behaviour of Mr Baker, NSW Police along with RSPCA NSW inspectors attended the property again on Friday 4 March 2016.

An inspection of the property revealed 18 dogs, a number of which were in pens without shelter, and a female Rottweiler was tethered on a heavy chain with no access to food, water or shelter.

The majority of dogs had no bedding or material to lie on whatsoever, only the concrete floors which were all heavily laden with faeces and urine, the strong odour had attracted flies and insects.

Nearly all the dogs had no or insufficient water that had turned green and undrinkable. In one kennel, there was a large amount of dried blood and a pool of bodily fluids with a strong odour of decomposition, consistent with that of a deceased animal being previously present for a period of time.

Five deceased dogs were found in a number of freezers, and the partially burnt remains of a dog was found in full view of the majority of dogs in their pens.

Mr Baker later stated that the deceased dogs had been killed in dog attacks or by old age and hadn’t been attended by a vet prior to their deaths.

He said his intention was to use a company to cremate them but admitted to burning them in his fire-pit once room in the freezers was exhausted.

A number of dogs were found in poor condition with fleas and wounds. Given the combined conditions, all 18 dogs were seized by inspectors and transported to a veterinary facility for assessment and treatment.

Veterinarians diagnosed the dogs with severe dehydration requiring fluid therapy, heavy flea burdens, untreated wounds, ear infections, dental disease, emaciated conditions due to insufficient food, severe osteoarthritis and a variety of other medical issues including ulcerated paw pads and one dog with a severely ulcerated scrotum.

One dog was presented with burnt testicles, consistent with sitting on hot concrete. All dogs received proper food and veterinary treatment.

Astoundingly, Mr Baker alleged that a dead fly, located within the infected ear canal of one of the seized dogs was planted there by RSPCA inspectors as well as stating that inspectors had worn deliberately contaminated footwear into his property in order to introduce parasites to his animals by way of cross contamination.

Throughout the investigation, Baker was hostile, aggressive and verbally abusive towards RSPCA NSW Inspectors and support staff.

“The mind boggles how someone that has a history of breeding for profit could let so many dogs get in such horrendous conditions. Every single dog had serious health problems – some of them truly grotesque and heartbreaking,” comments, RSPCA NSW Inspector James Arentz.

RSPCA NSW recently oversaw the rehoming of the first of these dogs to come through the lengthy and costly behavioural and medical rehabilitation process, and we wish her all the best with her new loving family.

All charges brought under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.​