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Dunedin man sentenced for trapping, drowning eight cats - three of which were pregnant

A Dunedin man was fined $2000 yesterday for trapping and drowning eight cats during a night shift at work in September last year, three of which were pregnant. 

A file image of a courtroom coat of arms. Source: 1 NEWS

Donald MacDonald, who pleaded guilty at an earlier appearance in court, said he disposed of the cats because he thought management had wanted them gone. But he confirmed he received no official instruction. 

He said he believed drowning was a humane method of killing the cats. 

On the night of September 24, 2019, MacDonald picked up a trap with a cat inside and carried it towards a bin filled with water. He then dropped the trap with the cat inside and walked away for three or four minutes. 

The same process was done for the remaining seven cats on the same night. 

A co-worker discovered the cats more than 24 hours later under trees along the boundary of the workplace. 

Post-mortem examinations conducted on six of the cats concluded there was irrefutable proof of drowning. 

MacDonald was also ordered to pay $610 for reparations and costs. 

SPCA CEO Andrea Midgen said drowning animals was cruel. 

“We urge people to think about what they’re going to do with the animal once trapped. Drowning needs to be ruled out as the next step,” she said.

“We must do better as the intense distress it causes animals in the final moments before death is quite horrific.” 

Midgen said the practice of drowning cats was still “fairly widespread”.

Drowning animals is a prosecutable offence under the Animal Welfare Act (1999) because it caused intense and prolonged suffering to the animal. 

The law states that while pests, which can in some situations include cats, can be caught and killed, the killing of the animal should not cause unnecessary or unreasonable pain or distress.