A South Coast man has been fined $15,000 and banned from owning a pet for three years following a “barbaric” attempt to kill his two dogs using a mallet two years ago.
- John Druin Hooper, 45, is fined after pleading guilty to two counts of animal cruelty
- Hooper struck his two small dogs on the head with a mallet in a failed attempt to kill them
- He has been banned from owning pets for three years
John Druin Hooper, 45, of Narrikup, appeared in the Albany Magistrates Court on Wednesday charged over the incident, which Magistrate Diane Scaddan described as a “brutal, severe and cruel act”.
Hooper pleaded guilty to two counts of ill-treating an animal, arising from what he claimed was his attempt to “euthanase” two healthy Shih Tzu-cross dogs at an Albany pine plantation in July 2019.
Both dogs were found alive within a week with numerous injuries between them including bleeding in their eyes, deep cuts, swelling, bruising, dehydration, and one had a fractured eye socket.
Family issues blamed for attack
Hooper said he was experiencing personal and marital issues on July 13, 2019, when he drove his family’s two-year-old pet dogs, Jet and Henry, to a plantation several kilometres from his home with the intention of killing them.
The dogs were registered in his now ex-wife’s name.
In court, Hooper claimed that, at the time, his wife had been unable to care for the dogs so he had made an “ethical decision to put the pets down”.
He had previously admitted to police that he had driven the dogs to the area and allowed them to exercise in a bid to tire them out and reduce the likelihood of a struggle during the killings.
Once the dogs were separated, each one was struck over the head with a mallet.
Hooper said that when the dogs continued to struggle, he bludgeoned them again before he left the plantation.
Dogs found with brutal injuries
Jet was found by a person in the area the following day. He was alive, but had suffered a puncture wound to his head and was bleeding in one eye.
Six days later, Henry was found in a worse condition and was extremely dehydrated, after having survived for nearly a week alone in the plantation — where overnight temperatures dropped below 6°C .
The court was told both dogs had since been rehabilitated, rehomed and were now “fit and healthy”.
Hooper admitted his actions to police, but claimed his emotional state at the time of the attacks on the dogs had affected his ability to kill them quickly.
“I was very distraught … I was crying — that affected my ability to euthanase them properly,” he said.
He told the court he was “not a cruel person” and “loved animals” but “was put in a hard situation”.
In court, an RSPCA representative said Hooper had taken the dogs to the plantation with the clear intention of “euthanising” them.
‘Prolonged, unnecessary suffering’
Ms Scaddan said that despite Hooper’s early guilty plea and expression of remorse, she needed to send a warning to the community that such behaviour was intolerable.
She said “the brutal way of trying to kill the dogs led to prolonged and unnecessary suffering for both animals”.
Ms Scaddan said Hooper had not investigated any of the humane avenues available to him to relieve himself of his pets.
“This can only be described as a brutal, severe and cruel act,” she said.
“Striking any animal to its head … is extraordinary.
Hooper was fined $15,000 — $7,500 for each dog — and ordered to pay court costs of more than $2,800.
He was also banned from owning a pet for three years.
Two cats in his care, which he said “would be hard” to live without, must be rehomed within a month.
RSPCA condemns ‘blatant cruelty’
In a statement after the court hearing, RSPCA’s executive manager of animal and enforcement operations, Hannah Dreaver, said the incident was “a shocking case of blatant cruelty”.
“Our animals deserve our love and care … it’s our job to make sure we give it to them.”
A spokesperson for the RSPCA said there were avenues to surrender animals if people felt they could no longer care for them.
“Please speak to [RSPCA] or any other reputable rescue organisation about options,” the spokesperson said.
“There are a lot of people out there with generous hearts looking to adopt.”
Veterinarians could also offer advice and support.