Jail for man who suffocated pet puppy

A Chinese student who taped his 16-week-old puppy’s mouth shut, suffocating the tiny animal, has been sentenced to jail.

University of Wollongong student Ran Tao was jailed for two months yesterday but was granted bail, pending an appeal of the term.

Tao, who pleaded guilty to aggravated animal cruelty last year, admitted to putting sticking tape over his labrador Jia Jia’s mouth and tying her front legs together, leaving the bound animal unable to pant or breathe, while he took a phone call.

Arguing for Tao’s release yesterday, solicitor Renata Matyear said her client was willing to surrender his passport and report to police.

She said Tao was still attending classes at the university and had always shown up for court.

Magistrate Darryl Pearce granted Tao bail but said the matter was serious and there was a need to deter the community from committing similar offences.

Investigations into the dog’s death began last year when an RSPCA officer spoke to a surgeon at the Greencross Vets Clinic about the puppy, which Tao had brought in about 11pm on September 21.

Three days later, the officer visited Tao’s Wollongong apartment to question him.

The 30-year-old readily admitted to taping the puppy’s mouth and front legs together as he had become angry when Jia Jia had damaged some carpet in his unit.

He also told the officer the puppy had been ‘‘barking a lot’’ and he was annoyed, as he had to answer a phone call.

Tao was on the phone for nearly 30 minutes and only removed the tape when he saw the puppy was not breathing or moving.

The vet who examined the dead dog said the animal had a large amount of bloody froth in its mouth and would have been highly agitated and distressed.

She said the puppy most likely died from suffocation as a direct result of not being able to breathe naturally.

Magistrate Pearce yesterday ordered Tao to report to police daily, provide a $2000 surety and surrender his passport. Tao was also banned from owning any animals for the next five years.

The appeal will be heard in Wollongong District Court on March 8.

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