Rodney John Bridge and Lyn Smith outside Mackay Magistrates Court
Rodney John Bridge and Lyn Smith outside Mackay Magistrates Court Lucy Smith

UPDATE: Dog dies of neglect, owners pay court $86.80

MAGISTRATE Damien Dwyer has ordered that Lyn Smith, 47, and Rodney John Bridge, 37, each serve 200 hours of community service for failing to care for their pet Tazer.

They have been banned from buying or owning a pet for the next five years.

Mr Dwyer said RSPCA Inspector David Ferrar visited the couple's home on February 8 last year, saw Tazer, who was less than a year old, was in a critical condition and took her to a vet.

She was emaciated, covered in sores, was lethargic and had limited movement. Tazer's condition was so bad that she had to be euthanized.

RELATED: Worst animal cruelty cases in the region

Mr Dwyer said a post mortem of the dog showed she had not been fed for at least a week, and likely was not fed appropriately for a month or more.

He said although Tazer had the skin condition demodectic mange, the post mortem revealed no issues with her digestive organs.

Mr Dwyer said the dog had eaten "vigorously" when she was taken from Bridge and Smith and said he didn't accept the South Mackay couple's claim that they had left food and water out for the dog.

Smith argued in court that she was not a "bad person" and said she had cared for her 10-year-old dog since it was a puppy. She asked to be allowed to keep that dog.

"She's never been neglected, never been abused. She sleeps in a bed with us," she said.

"She follows me everywhere and if she's taken away it'll be detrimental to her health."

Mr Dwyer said the photos of Tazer were "abhorrent to any rational-thinking person" and he wasn't "going to take the chance of it ever happening again" and ordered the 10-year-old dog be removed from their care.

Smith was nearly in tears.

"I've had death threats, I've had people abuse me over social media over this. If you take my dog off me now..." she said.

Bridge and Smith were also each ordered to pay $86.80 to cover court costs. 

UPDATE, 11.22am:

Protest outside Mackay Court House.
Protest outside Mackay Court House. Lucy Smith

ABOUT 20 people congregated outside the Mackay court house this morning to protest animal cruelty at the sentencing of the owners of Tazer the dog.

Protester Luke Ludlow said he'd been disgusted when he saw images of Tazer's emaciated body.

"Animals depend on us, we're their carers. You wouldn't do that to your children, why would you do it to animals?... We need to treat them as our equals," he said.

South Mackay couple Lyn Bridge and Rodney John pleaded guilty to breaching their duty of care to an animal, their pet Tazer, in Mackay Magistrates Court earlier this month.  

Tonia Binsiar, who helped to organise the protest, said the group was made up of Mackay residents from various animal lover Facebook pages.

She said the group was calling for Bridge and Smith to receive actual time in jail, and for a higher maximum sentences in cases of animal neglect.

"If we treat animals badly, how are we treating people? We've got to set a standard," she said outside court.

The matter was mentioned briefly in court this morning. Bridge and Smith are expected to receive a sentence at 2pm today.


EARLIER: The story of Tazer the dog has touched thousands of animal lovers in Mackay and around the world.

The South Mackay pup had to be put down last year, when an RSPCA inspector discovered her emaciated, hairless, dry retching and covered in weeping sores.

Mackay residents have organised a peaceful protest outside Mackay Magistrates Court on Monday, when Tazer's owners are expected to be sentenced for breaching their duty of care. 

South Mackay couple Rodney John Bridge, 37, and Lyn Smith, 47, pleaded guilty to breaching duty of care to an animal on June 6 and the story, with photos of Tazer's horrific skin condition, was shared on Facebook more than 2000 times.

The story was also picked up by UK newspaper The Mirror.

In court, Magistrate Damien Dwyer said he was considering giving Smith and Bridge actual time in jail.

Mackay woman Patricia Hunt has organised Monday's protest with the Facebook page 'Justice for Tazer'.

Tazer the puppy had to be euthanised after a horrific case of the skin disease Demodectic Mange.Contributed
Tazer the puppy had to be euthanised after a horrific case of the skin disease Demodectic Mange.Contributed Contributed

So far 19 people have clicked attending and 34 have said they're interested in going.

"There's a whole group of us, we have a Facebook page called the Mackay Staffy Lovers. We decided to meet at the court house and show that, basically, this isn't acceptable," Ms Hunt said.

Ms Hunt said maximum penalty for the crime - currently one year in jail - should be higher.

"A lot of the cases that you hear of on the news, all they're getting is fines. A fine's not good enough, they need to be accountable for their actions," she said.

The protest has been approved by police, Mackay Regional Council and the court house.

Protestors will meet outside the Mackay court house on Monday at 8am.