Case Snapshot
Case ID: 18180
Classification: Beating, Mutilation/Torture, Choking / Strangulation / Suffocation
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Drugs or alcohol involved
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Defense(s): Sarah Saunderson-Warner
Judge(s): Stephen O'Driscoll, John Fogarty

Monday, Feb 2, 2009

Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: Jeffrey Robin Hurring

Case Updates: 3 update(s) available

The longest sentence for animal cruelty in New Zealand was imposed on a Dunedin man yesterday.

Jeffrey Hurring, 19, a supermarket shelf-filler, was sentenced in the Dunedin District Court to 12 months' jail for killing an 18-month-old male Jack Russell dog in Dunedin on February 2 this year.

He was also barred from owning an animal for 10 years.

Hurring admitted killing the dog, named Diesel and owned by a friend, by first trying to strangle it using a chain, his hands and his feet.

When the dog did not die after 30 minutes, he poured petrol down its throat, stuffed a pillow-case down its throat and finally hit it on the head with a spade.

The impact broke the dog's back and jaw, killing it.

The SPCA has hailed the sentence as the one it has been waiting for, after years of fighting for harsher sentences for people found guilty of extreme cruelty to animals.

Tears ran down the face of Hurring's mother as she and his father left the court after the sentencing.

Judge Stephen O'Driscoll told the court the attack on the dog was at the higher end of the scale in terms of seriousness and gravity.

The maximum previous sentence handed down in New Zealand for cruelty to an animal was nine months' jail, but the particular cruelty of this case was a significant aggravating factor in sentencing.

That, accompanied by the vulnerability of the dog, the premeditation and the deliberate conduct over a period of time in which Hurring used a variety of tools and methods to kill the dog, meant he must take a starting point of 18 months' imprisonment.

He took six months off for Hurring's age, his early guilty plea, his remorse, his acceptance of responsibility for the dog's suffering, his lack of previous convictions and his naivete and immaturity which, in the judge's view, diminished culpability.

He also ordered Hurring to pay $1178.50 reparation to the SPCA and to continue counselling for his drinking and other issues related to his offending for at least six months after his release from prison.

The judge ssaid a pre-sentence report indicated Hurring had little insight into his offending.

He had been assessed as having a propensity for violence and frequently verbally abused others.

There was moderate risk he would reoffend, Judge O'Driscoll said.

There was a need to educate people living in urban areas that it was inappropriate for them to undertake the task of putting down animals themselves, he said.

SPCA national chief executive Robyn Kippenberger said the SPCA was delighted with the sentence.

"It gives significant recognition to what we have been saying for a very long time, that this sort of violence is unacceptable and inextricably linked with violence to humans.

"This sends a very clear message."

This was just one case of many in a disturbing trend of young men committing extreme and prolonged violence against animals this year.

Dunedin SPCA inspector and lead investigator on the case Steph Saunders said it was a pleasing result.

Case Updates

A man who inflicted cruelty on an 18-month-old Jack Russell terrier has had two months cut from the year-long sentence imposed by the Dunedin District Court in February.

Nineteen-year-old Jeffrey Robin Hurring tried to strangle the dog with a chain, then poured petrol down its throat before finally finishing him off with a blow to the head with a spade.

The incident was witnessed by a number of children and teenagers who were traumatised by what they saw.

In all, the dog, called Diesel, took a half hour to die.

Hurring, who pleaded guilty to a charge of wilful ill-treatment of an animal, was jailed for one year, banned from owning another animal for 10 years and ordered to pay the SPCA $1178.

In the High Court at Dunedin Justice John Fogarty ruled the 18 month starting point adopted by Judge Stephen O'Driscoll was correct.

However, he said Hurring was not given sufficient discount for his guilty plea, age, naivety, immaturity and lack of criminal convictions.

Justice Fogarty reduced the jail term to 10 months but let the other orders stand.

The courts was told Diesel had become increasingly aggressive and had bitten a child.

Justice Fogarty said the woman who owned Diesel had intended to call the SPCA the following day, but Hurring, who had drunk several glasses of wine, offered to kill the dog - an offer she accepted.

"He took the dog into the garden shed," the judge said.

"He attempted to strangle the dog using a chain, his bare hands and a foot."

After half an hour the dog was still alive and had bitten him. He then put petrol down the dog's throat.

"He finally hit the dog on the head with a spade.

"The dog died shortly after that," Justice Fogarty said.

It was previously reported that SPCA inquiries found that in the preceding weeks the dog had been subjected to constant teasing by local children and in one incident had a vacuum cleaner attached to its testicles.

The SPCA was told the day after the killing by a teacher and a babysitter dealing with children, who were distraught about what had happened.
Source: - Sep 29, 2009
Update posted on Jul 4, 2011 - 5:16PM 
A 19-year-old man who tried to strangle a dog before pouring petrol down its throat and bashing it with a spade is appealing his jail term.

Jeffrey Robin Hurring was in February sentenced to 12 months' jail for killing the 18-month-old Jack Russell terrier. It was the longest sentence ever given for animal cruelty.

Hurring's counsel, Sarah Saunderson-Warner, told Justice John Fogarty in the High Court at Dunedin that sentencing district court judge Stephen O'Driscoll had not taken Hurring's age and lack of convictions into account, the Otago Daily Times reported.

Hurring was "clearly affected by his offending" and had co-operated with police, Saunderson-Warner said.

Justice Fogarty said he believed Judge O'Driscoll had referred to an academic paper which said animal cruelty sentences were too low.

"The sentencing judge really decided to step up to the plate and go to a higher level," he said.

"The question for me at the moment is whether that is right.

"It is always difficult for a district court judge to change a level of sentencing when there is a whole line of cases going the other way."

He reserved his decision.
Source: - Aug 27, 2009
Update posted on Jul 4, 2011 - 5:13PM 
A former owner of Diesel, the Jack Russell dog violently killed by Jeffrey Hurring in Dunedin earlier this year, says she is relieved some justice has been done for a dog that was "a sweetie".

Hurring (19) was yesterday sentenced in the Dunedin District Court to a year in prison.

He killed the 18-month-old dog by strangling it, pouring petrol down its throat and then hitting it over the head with a shovel.

"What he did is disgusting. Diesel deserved some justice," said the woman, who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution.

She said re-homing the 18-month-old dog late last year had not been a decision taken likely.

"I wish I never had. I wish I'd never given him away."

Hurring was drinking at the house of Diesel's new owner when he said he would put down the dog for her after it bit a child.

During their investigation, SPCA staff learned the dog had been taunted by children during the previous two months. At one stage, a vacuum cleaner was attached to the dog's testicles.

Diesel's former owner said the dog was never aggressive when living with her family.

"He was a sweetie, just a typical Jack Russell - full of beans. He definitely would not have hurt anyone intentionally."

The family had the dog since he was six weeks old, but had to re-home him when her work meant she could no longer let him off the chain as often as needed.

Her family vetted potential owners and decided on the new owner because she had a large fenced section, had come with her parents who owned fox terriers, and had children.

She told the new owner if there were any problems she should call and she would come and get Diesel. She rang several times to check on the dog, but was told it was fine.

"We assumed everything would be good."

When she heard of the dog's fate she felt ill.

In tears after court yesterday, she said she was pleased Hurring received a significant sentence.
Source: - Jun 24, 2009
Update posted on Jul 4, 2011 - 4:06PM 


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