Blind man’s ruff SPCA investigates

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The dog’s called Asshole but it’s his heavy-handed owner who’s in the poo.

The SPCA is investigating a blind Arthurs Point man’s treatment of his dog after complaints of beating the pooch in public.

Central Otago SPCA inspector Virginia Pine confirms “a number of complaints” over two years relating to Phil O’Brien’s handling of his blue heeler called Asshole.

“Basically it’s been from striking him with his cane, kicking him – there was one person who said he saw him lift the dog off the ground with his boot,” Pine says.

“We’ve spoken with him and he’s been warned about the consequences or the offences that he could be committing if that’s indeed what’s happening.”

The latest incident reported to the SPCA was on March 26, when Queenstown manager Nicky Kidd saw O’Brien allegedly take to his companion in Gorge Road.

From across the road, she watched O’Brien restrain his dog as two untethered dogs greeted Asshole.

“[O’Brien’s] dog wanted to go to investigate and [he] started smacking the dog with his cane – not just lightly either, they were decent smacks,” Kidd claims.

Crossing to confront O’Brien, “I saw that his dog was sitting then [he] stomped on the dog’s paw.

“Again this was not gentle – the dog was yelping.

“I said to [O’Brien] there was no need to beat up his dog and he replied ‘I wasn’t’. If that wasn’t beating up your dog, I don’t know what is.”

Mountain Scene spoke to O’Brien late last month about the alleged incident.

“All I did was I got my cane and I pushed him back like this to get him away from this other [dog] who was going to have a go at him,” he says.

“I didn’t bloody stomp on his foot.

“I’m getting sick of this. You tell this bitch [Kidd] I’m going to take it further. I’ve had enough of this crap in this bloody town.

“I don’t give a shit what you put in the paper, you can put what you like in it. I’ve had a f****** gutsful.”
O’Brien denies he beats his dog.

“I’m just getting f****** fed up with [people complaining]. You know what’s going to happen, the next one that comes up to me, I’ll do time because I’ll f******* smash them right over.”

O’Brien chose the name Asshole “because he used to be a right little asshole but [now] he’s a bloody good dog”.
He admits the SPCA has spoken to him.

In 2005, Mountain Scene reported the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind dropping Asshole from its guide-dog training programme after a complaint about O’Brien’s treatment.

O’Brien, who has no sight in his left eye and a “failing” right eye, bred and trained Asshole himself.

Pine urges people to record any abuse – “without evidence … there’s not a lot we can do”.