Thomson family adopts Dallas the abused dog as former owner pleads guilty to animal cruelty charges

Dallas: Before and after the Thomsons adopted him.
Dallas: Before and after the Thomsons adopted him.

A two-year-old dog at the centre of an aggravated animal cruelty case has been rescued by a loving family, at a time when they too needed it most.

In July last year, RSPCA animal welfare officer Lisa Edwards found Dallas the staffy-cross emaciated, filthy and riddled with fleas in a Burnie home.

A second dog, nine-year-old Scooby, was also found dead on the property.

And now, six months later, the Thomson family have brought Dallas into their home at The Old Black Stump restaurant at the base of Mount Roland.

A NEW HOME

Kate Thomson said she took her son, Jory, to "pat cats" at the Devonport Animal Care Centre in Spreyton in late 2019 when the 'sweet-natured' Dallas came to say hello.

"We're both very much cat people," Mrs Thomson said.

"But Dallas stole our hearts."

Dallas was just 11.1kg when he was found, and a veterinarian pathologist discovered he had eaten a piece of cloth which was obstructing his intestines. Picture: RSPCA/Lisa Edwards

Dallas was just 11.1kg when he was found, and a veterinarian pathologist discovered he had eaten a piece of cloth which was obstructing his intestines. Picture: RSPCA/Lisa Edwards

Early in January, Mrs Thomson returned to the animal shelter with Jory and her daughter Ellowyn, and Dallas had not yet been adopted.

"I went with both kids and and Dallas was still there and they just absolutely adored him," she said.

"They insisted we bring [Dad] Guy along the next day.

"He was just really lovely and we brought him home just to see how he would go with our cats.

"They just sniffed each others noses and walked away, there was no aggression or anything."

The health of the Thomson's older cat, 13-year-old Mr Benson, was in decline when Dallas came home, and he was euthanised on Monday night.

In the days leading up to the cat's death, Dallas allowed the "very sick" Mr Benson to share his bed.

Dallas has come along at a very crucial time our lives.

Kate Thomson

"They just slept in the bed together. It was so sweet," Mrs Thomson said, her voice breaking.

The family's previous dog, a springer spaniel, also died in 2019, and Mr Thomson he was initially hesitant about bringing another dog home.

"I didn't want to go rushing into getting another dog, but it has been seven months," he said.

"Dallas has come along at a very crucial time our lives," Mrs Thomson said.

Dallas sharing his bed with Mr Benson, who was euthanised on Monday. Picture: Kate Thomson

Dallas sharing his bed with Mr Benson, who was euthanised on Monday. Picture: Kate Thomson

And it is clear that love goes both ways, as his initial fear and trepidation has melted away in the days since coming home to Gowrie Park.

"He was a bit scared to get into the car, to bring him home," Mrs Thomson said.

"But he went out for a drive yesterday and when he saw he was coming back here he got so excited.

"He is such a sweet-natured little dude."

RSPCA SEIZURE

The first 18 months of Dallas's life were the subject of a case before the Burnie Magistrates Court on Monday.

His previous owner pleaded guilty to aggravated animal cruelty, animal cruelty and managing an animal in a way likely to cause suffering.

The RSPCA first received a complaint from a member of the public about the welfare of Dallas and Scooby in October 2018, at which point the owner was contacted, according to court documents.

Contact was then made again in January 2019, when a legal order was issued for the owner to seek veterinary attention, and again three months later when the owner informed the RSPCA she intended to have Scooby euthanised.

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Animal welfare officer Lisa Edwards attended the property in July 2019 following a further complaint from the public where she found Scooby dead and Dallas starving and flea-infested.

A veterinary pathologist said the only thing in Dallas's stomach was a piece of fabric which was obstructing his intestines.

"This finding in a mature severely emaciated animal suggests starvation and the associated desperation leading to ingestion of foreign materials," the pathologist's report read.

Dallas now weighs a healthy 27kg, but when he was found he was just 11.1kg.

Magistrate Leanne Topfer sentenced the defendant to a community corrections order and banned them from owning another dog for the next decade.

RSPCA prosecutor Malcolm Caulfield said the ban was unprecedented in terms of length.

Ms Edwards said the sentence, and particularly Dallas's rehoming, was a good ending to a sad story.

"It's lovely to have an outcome for an animal to have that second chance they really deserve," she said.

Prosecution is used as a last resort.

RSPCA animal welfare officer Lisa Edwards

"Where possible RSPCA work with people to secure the best long term outcomes for owners and their animals.

"Prosecution is used as a last resort."

Mrs Thomson said the family only knew a little of Dallas's backstory when they adopted him, but in his new life he was already making friends with the neighbour's Jack Russells and curiously watching pademelons go bouncing by the Gowrie Park bush block.

And, she said, despite his trauma and previous lack of attention, he already proven to be a ready and able student of puppy preschool.

"He's got some staffy in him, but we also think he's got some beagle in him, and maybe some kelpie or cattle dog because he's so willing to learn," Mrs Thomson said.

"You just have no idea what he's been through."

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This story The sad tail of Dallas the rescued dog wags again first appeared on The Advocate.