On 27 November, Dario (David) Baena of Falls Creek was ordered to pay over $155,000 in fines and costs, and banned from owning animals for 10 years after being sentenced on multiple counts of animal cruelty in Nowra Local Court.
Baena, who failed to appear and was convicted in his absence, was charged in October last year after RSPCA NSW Inspectors responded to a call from police concerning the number and the poor condition of dogs on his property. The inspectors found almost 200 dogs living in putrid conditions and many in very poor body condition. A number of dead puppies were also found, some had been tied together with wire and died of strangulation.
The inspectors seized 185 dogs and charged Baena with the following offences: Three counts of aggravated animal cruelty, eight counts of committing an act of animal cruelty, two counts of failing to provide vet treatment, and seven counts each of failing to provide sufficient ventilation and failing to ensure housing was kept clean and hygienic.
Baena pleaded guilty to the above charges in February this year however a further 10 charges were laid in May after the RSPCA again visited his property. On this occasion he was charged with four counts of failing to provide vet treatment, two counts of failing to comply with the Animal Welfare Code of Practice, and one count each of failing to exercise reasonable care, failing to provide proper and sufficient food, and committing an act of animal cruelty.
Magistrate Doug Dick found Baena guilty in his absence of all 10 charges. While delivering his sentence Magistrate Dick noted that he “had the unfortunate duty of watching the dvd footage” and that it was his “responsibility to protect animals”.
Baena was fined a total of $20,350 and ordered to pay costs of $134,962.23. As well as the 10-year prohibition order, Baena was ordered to surrender any animals currently in his possession.
Moiety of the fine was awarded to RSPCA NSW.
RSPCA NSW Chief Inspector David O’Shannessy says today’s result is pleasing and is a reminder to the community that housing animals in such deplorable conditions is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
“It’s a great result following the rescue of these dogs from the appalling conditions they endured in the puppy mill. Unfortunately when animals are rescued from these situations, despite the best efforts of the RSPCA, not all animals are able to be rehabilitated,” said O’Shannessy.
“Mr Baena’s 10-year prohibition order provides significant protection to animals that may have otherwise ended up in his care.”