Venom, the pit bull dog who hit the headlines amid an animal cruelty controversy, has died.
The news was revealed yesterday by SPCA inspector Glyn Roberts, who said there are plans to install a bench and plaque in his memory.
There was an outpouring of public concern over Venom after the SPCA accused Government animal wardens of failing to do their jobs and “showing no interest” in the case of a man accused of cruelty to him.
Kurt Dowling was cleared at Magistrates’ Court in March of causing suffering to the unlicensed dog, who was found starving to death and chained up outside with a puncture wound to his head.
Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo said there was no doubt the animal suffered, but prosecutors failed to prove Mr Dowling was responsible as there had not been a “proper and full investigation” into who owned Venom.
The 12-year-old dog made a good recovery after being seized by the SPCA. The case prompted members of the public in Bermuda and abroad to write to Minister of the Environment Marc Bean to express their concerns. When Mr Dowling tried to reclaim Venom, the SPCA refused to give him back.
Mr Roberts said yesterday: “A victim of cruelty and neglect during his life, Venom spent the last year-and-a-half being well-fed, loved and properly cared for at the society’s Valley Road shelter. Unfortunately he ultimately had to be put to sleep due to his failing health.”
He recalled how Venom weighed just 41lbs and “looked like a walking skeleton” when found by former SPCA welfare officer Debbie Masters in January 2011. He had scars and old injuries that appeared to have been sustained in fights.
Mr Roberts said: “Whilst at the shelter Venom rapidly put on weight until he reached a healthy, normal weight of 58lbs. During his time at the shelter he was a firm favourite with staff and dog walkers alike and loved nothing more than to roll around on his back in the long grass and have his tummy rubbed.”
He explained that Venom developed a heart condition and serious intestinal problems and was put to sleep earlier this summer on veterinary advice.
“Venom is now back at the SPCA for good. He is buried overlooking the shelter and the SPCA plans to raise funds for a bench and a plaque as a memorial not only to Venom but all the animals like him that are abused and neglected, and the people like Debbie Masters who dedicate their lives to protecting them,” said Mr Roberts.
Ms Masters retired from her job earlier this year.
l The SPCA has a revamped website at www.spca.bm. A press release said: “The new site is the product of months of consultation with various parties who have worked together to ensure every aspect of the SPCA’s work is included. It offers a wealth of information presented in a format that is bright and informative and is easy and fun to navigate.”