Cobram man Kaleb Kennedy locked up for animal cruelty

A photo seized by police from Kennedy's phone, taken in September 2015. Kennedy is seen with one of his dogs after a hunt. Photo: County Court
A photo seized by police from Kennedy's phone, taken in September 2015. Kennedy is seen with one of his dogs after a hunt. Photo: County Court

[Warning: graphic images and descriptions]

A fox squeals helplessly and thrashes back and forth as a dog gnaws on its tail. "Oi, quick get it on video," a man yells.

The cries of a large goat are heard across an empty field. "Dogs found some goats," another man says, as the animal is savaged by three canines, from the front, back and middle.

A small brown dog walks around a living room with a tiny black kitten in its mouth, "Marley, come on buddy, Marley come on," a man encourages the dog, which drops the cat on the ground and ravages it.

These three scenes are from confronting videos shown in court during a Victorian man's appeal of a six-month jail sentence for animal cruelty.

Some of the videos, which the man shared with friends on Snapchat, are too graphic for publication.

Detectives say it is one of the worst animal cruelty cases they have ever seen. "The way that he deals with animals is disturbing," Cobram Detective Senior Constable Jason Williams said.

Last month Kaleb Kennedy, 21, was sent to prison for six months for training his dogs to hunt and kill wild animals.

He was convicted of aggravated cruelty to a deer, boar, goat and cat, hunting game without a licence, theft, burglary and traffic offences, all committed during a cross-border crime spree with his friend.

Kaleb Kennedy, 21, will spend six months behind bars. Photo: Facebook/@kaleb.kennedy.3

Kaleb Kennedy, 21, will spend six months behind bars. Photo: Facebook/@kaleb.kennedy.3

Kennedy received the sentence in April last year at a Cobram court, but he appealed it and spent more than 12 months on appeal bail as the case went through the courts.

While on bail, he continued to hunt with his dogs.

During an appeal hearing at the Victorian County Court on June 9, prosecutor Timothy Hoare said that the week before Kennedy had been caught breaking through a fence in regional NSW, in an attempt to hunt with his dogs at Mount Hope.

"When police subsequently searched the trailer and vehicle, they were in possession of hunting dogs, dog-tracking collars, spotlights and hunting knives. It was a condition of his bail that he not hunt.

"It's of great concern that this has happened in the past week, considering the matters he is here for today."

County Court Judge Richard Smith said, given the reoffending, rather than overturn Kennedy's sentence he would probably increase it.

The appeal was abandoned and Kennedy is now serving his original six-month sentence.

A screen shot taken from a Snapchat video found on Kennedy's phone, where he encourages the dog to maul a black kitten. Photo: County Court

A large goat is attacked by three dogs, in a Snapchat video found on Kennedy's phone. Photo: County Court

A large goat is attacked by three dogs, in a Snapchat video found on Kennedy's phone. Photo: County Court

Hunting wild animals is a popular sport among many country Victorians, but Detective Senior Constable Williams, who enjoys hunting himself, said he was particularly disturbed by Kennedy's thirst for violence.

"It's certainly a popular pastime up here, hunting, there's nothing illegal about that, but it's his bloodlust," he said.

One of Kennedy's tactics was to injure the animal first so that it had little chance of escaping from his dogs.

"There's nothing like what he's done," he said. "Deer don't walk like that when they're being chased."

The case highlights an alarming trend among young men in north-east Victoria and southern NSW, who gloat about the killing on social media.

During hunting trips with his friends, Kennedy would film the attacks and share the videos on Snapchat. He would also post photos of the kill on Facebook.

Police also charged five of Kennedy's friends with hunting and animal cruelty offences.

Marcus Formica was sentenced with Kennedy in Cobram over animal cruelty offences and a crime spree. He has since served his six-month prison sentence.

Another friend, a 21-year-old from Numurkah, was convicted and fined $4200 for hunting and animal cruelty offences, including the incident where dogs were set on a sambar deer.

Detective Senior Constable Williams said it was disturbing that so many young men showed such a lack of empathy towards animals.

"There's a way and a means to do it," he said. "I'm not advocating to stop hunting but it needs to be done humanely."

​Originally published by The Age.