Case Snapshot
Case ID: 16125
Classification: Shooting
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Abuse was retaliation against animal's bad behavior
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Monday, Jan 25, 2010

Disposition: Alleged
Case Images: 11 files available

» Russell Mendoza
» Tony Campbell

Case Updates: 4 update(s) available

The SPCA is incensed at the mass killing of 33 dogs at Wellsford, north of Auckland, on January 25, 2010, with inspectors describing the incident as a frightening example of animal abuse.

Executive director Bob Kerridge told reporters today that he had seen many incidents of atrocities against animals in his many years with the SPCA, but the sheer size of this incident put it in a different league.

"The scene which confronted our two inspectors will leave a lasting impression on them," he said. SPCA inspectors Sacha Keltie and Vicki Border were visibly upset by the incident.

"When I arrived at the property, I was confronted with a scene not unlike a massacre," Ms Keltie said. "I've never seen anything as horrible as this in my life, and I cannot begin to imagine the terror these animals were faced with. "It was a haunting scene of death and destruction, and I struggle to comprehend what took place there," Ms Keltie said.

Fighting back the tears, Ms Border said the shooters seemed to be on a "frenzied mission".
"They would not stop until all dogs were executed. The dogs were screaming, but they ignored the witness's pleas to do it properly. One of the injured dogs went to bite the rifle and the shooter blew its head off. "The scale of this is unbelievable. We are lost for words," Ms Border said.

Mr Kerridge would not comment on the circumstances that may have triggered this incident, which was a matter for police, he said.

The SPCA would only be interested in pursuing details of the offence and charges would definitely be considered.

A rifle and a shotgun used during the killings are to be seized by police.

The dog owner, Rowan Hargreaves, who saw the dogs he called "his family" shot dead on his property, was also being counselled by close friends, said police.

Police said today they would seize the rifles after the dogs were shot dead in a row between Mr Hargreaves and his neighbour Russell Mendoza near Wellsford.

The dogs were shot by Mr Mendoza and another man after Mr Mendoza's fox terrier was found dead and Mr Mendoza blamed one or more of the 39 dogs Mr Hargreaves owned.

Senior Constable Barry Rose from the Wellsford police said the police investigation into aspects involving the weapons had not been completed.

Police had had "reasonable co-operation" from both men.

Mr Rose said he had dealt with animals for much of his life and had killed animals where necessary but the sight of 33 dead dogs on Mr Hargreaves' place was "awful". "From what I saw they didn't die as I would expect them to die." He said they should have died from one shot each to the head but there were many empty cartridge shells where the bodies were found. "There was more (empty shells) amongst the blood and guts," he said.

Case Updates

The trial of two men accused of shooting 33 dogs on a rural property north of Auckland after an argument with the dogs' owner has been delayed.

Russell Mendoza and Tony Campbell were due to face trial later this month on animal cruelty and firearms charges laid following the shootings in January last year.

But the trial was delayed after Campbell changed his lawyer, prosecutor Josh Shaw told NZPA.

Mr Shaw said the matter was adjourned when it was called in Auckland District Court yesterday and was now due to start in September.

The charges were laid after the shooting of 33 dogs owned by Rowan Hargreaves on his property near Wellsford, 114km northwest of Auckland.

Mendoza and Campbell face charges laid by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals under the Animal Welfare Act of wilful ill-treatment of an animal and alternative charges of ill-treatment of an animal.

The men also face charges laid by police of reckless use of a firearm.

SPCA national president Bob Kerridge said it was unfortunate the case had been delayed.

The trial is expected to last two weeks.
Source: - Mar 16, 2011
Update posted on Mar 25, 2011 - 7:20PM 
Two men who allegedly shot 33 dogs on a rural property north of Auckland were back in court today.

Russell Mendoza and Tony Campbell appeared in North Shore District Court today for a pre-committal hearing on animal cruelty and firearms charges.

They were remanded on bail and will reappear at a post-committal conference in July.

The charges were laid after the shooting of 33 dogs owned by Rowan Hargreaves on his property near Wellsford, 114km northwest of Auckland.

Mendoza and Campbell face charges of wilful ill-treatment of an animal and alternative charges of ill-treatment of an animal laid by the Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) under the Animal Welfare Act.

The charges, which carry a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment, were laid after the SPCA said seven of the dogs died a slow and painful death after allegedly being shot with a shotgun and a .22 calibre rifle.

They also face charges laid by police of reckless use of a firearm. In addition, Mendoza faces a charge of possession of a firearm without a licence.

The men have indicated they wish to be tried by a jury.
Source: NZ Herald - May 24, 2010
Update posted on Jun 10, 2010 - 3:38PM 
The SPCA has described a "haunting scene of death and destruction" at the site where 33 dogs were killed as the society decides what charges it will lay.

Police said today they would seize the rifles after the dogs were shot dead in a Northland row on Monday between Rowan Hargreaves and his neighbour Russell Mendoza, who owns the dogs, near Wellsford.

The SPCA said at a press conference this afternoon that they would lay charges, while the inspector who discovered the massacre described the "haunting scene of death and destruction".

"I arrived at the property and was confronted by a scene not unlike a masacere," SPCA inspector Sacha Keltie, said as the emotion took its toll.

The dead dogs had been piled on top of one another, inside the cages, she said.

"The way they were positioned, indicated to me they had gone into the corners to try to shield themselves."

SPCA executive Bob Kerridge said that in his many years with the society he had seen an untold number of atrocities against animals. "But the share size of this puts it in a completely different league."

The dogs had been healthy, well looked after, and much loved, he said.

The SPCA has already been offered the services of high profile lawyer John Haigh QC, but still has to complete its investigation before charges can be formalised.

It appeared some of the dogs had not died instantly, Ms Keltie said. "I have never ever seen anything this horrible in my life.

"It was a haunting scene of death and destruction."

Mr Hargreaves, who saw the dogs he called "his family" shot dead, is also being counselled by close friends, said police.

Mr Hargreaves said earlier that he had been told two of his dogs had been identified as mauling a neighbour's family pet fox terrier, which subsequently died.

He agreed to destroy the two dogs that matched the description of the offending dogs and shot them on his property "away from the other dogs and humanely", he says.

He acknowledged he had given permission for the remaining adult animals to be destroyed as well, but it is the manner in which the animals were killed, along with puppies, that Mr Hargreaves says were not part of the agreement. That has upset him and others.

It was "horrific and cruel", he says.

Friend and business partner Richard Hawkings says he was at the property with Mr Hargreaves when two men, one who he describes as a hunter, came on to the property to shoot the adult dogs.

Ad Feedback But rather than taking the dogs out separately and shooting them away from the others, the man randomly started shooting the dogs with a .22 rifle, says Mr Hawkings.

There were seven dogs in one large cage and they started shooting at the dogs through the wire, he says.

The dogs were screaming, some trying to hide and others with skin coming off as they tried to climb through the wire, he says.

"I was in tears yelling at them to stop," says Mr Hawkings.

Mr Hawkings says a shotgun was then used, and both men started shooting puppies which were running free.

While he was able to hide six of the puppies, 22 others - including some as young as three weeks old - were killed, Mr Hawkings says.

"If I'd known they were going to do this I would never have agreed to it, or at least I would have done it humanely myself."

None of the dogs on the property were registered, says Rodney District Council communications manager David Anderson. He understands there had been complaints from neighbours about dogs worrying sheep in the area.

Mr Kerridge, SPCA's executive director, said animals instinctively knew when they were in danger.

"They may not know the purpose of it and they may not know what was going to happen but they are certainly aware of danger and there is no question they would have reacted in that way.

"You have not only got the aspect of the firing, you have got animals dying around them and you have got the sound. From what we understand the sound was horrendous of these dogs crying in agony. That will communicate a message to all the other dogs, without a doubt."

Mr Kerridge said he had been promoting animal welfare for many years but when he heard of the slaughter he was "absolutely amazed. I have been in the game for a long time but we have never had anything like this."

Mr Kerridge said the SPCA was still investigating whether anyone should be charged over the incident.

Police are also investigating the shooting, including the possibility one of the gunmen did not have a firearms licence.
Source: NZ Herald News - February 1, 2010
Update posted on Jan 31, 2010 - 9:23PM 
The man who took part in the gruesome Wellsford massacre of 33 dogs insisted that his conscience was clear last night.

Russell Mendoza is said to have shot the dogs in cold-blood with friend Tony "Tussock" Campbell after finding his fox terrier Otis mauled and dead. The father-of-two said: "We know what we are about. We are coping just fine. A full statement will be issued by my lawyers. I will fight any charges. I don't feel I've done anything wrong."

The men will be questioned by the SPCA this week and a decision on whether they will face animal cruelty charges.

A rottweiler was yesterday guarding Mendoza's 4ha home near Wellsford, Northland. He bought the property for $650,000 about three years ago and added a pool and renovated the house.

Mendoza, who runs Home & Garden Wellsford with his wife Dale, also owns a large boat, two Holden Commodores, a Range Rover, and a motorbike. The luxurious home is in stark contrast to his neighbour Rowan Hargreaves, the owner of the dogs. The mechanic lives in an old truck surrounded by rusting cars and rundown sheds.

The cages and truck where the executions took place are still spattered with blood.

On Friday police executed a search warrant at Campbell's property about a kilometre away and seized several firearms, including the .22 rifle and 12-gauge shotgun which were allegedly used to execute the dogs. A police spokesman said they were still deciding whether to lay charges.

Hargreaves revealed that two of the eight puppies who survived the massacre died yesterday.

He said he had barely slept since the massacre and was reluctant to return home. He was staying with friends or at his workshop in Wellsford.

Richard Hawkings, who witnessed the bloodbath, said he was seeking counselling after being traumatised by the shooting. He said: "I was calling out to [Mendoza and Campbell] to stop. My ears were ringing with the sound of gunfire. I smashed a bottle at one point to get their attention and they looked over at me.Their eyes were totally blank. They weren't even looking at me."
Source: NZ Herald News - January 31, 2010
Update posted on Jan 31, 2010 - 9:18PM 


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