A Hunter man has pleaded guilty to killing seven puppies by bashing them over the head with a rock in a horrific act of animal cruelty.
Nathan Thompson responded to an offer of a litter of free bull terrier cross puppies this week.
The pups were put up free of charge after the owner failed to sell them through online classifieds site Gumtree.
Thompson, 25, allegedly loaded the pups into his car on Wednesday and took them to bushland at Kurri Kurri, near Newcastle.
Police allege Thompson then began killing the puppies by hitting them on the head and throwing them in the bush.
A man walking his dogs saw the attack and confronted Thompson.
Thompson got into his car with five live pups and drove off, police say.
An RSPCA officer was called to the bushland where he found five dead pups and another two still clinging to life.
One pup died on the way to the vet.
The other – since named “Lucky” – survived and is recovering in the Rutherford Animal Shelter.
On Thursday night police arrested Thompson and charged him with animal cruelty offences.
RSPCA NSW Chief Inspector David O’Shannessy said Thompson also told police he killed four of the puppies that he fled with.
Another was given away.
Insp O’Shannessy said the person who gave the puppies away to Thompson was understandably shocked.
“It was his understanding that (Thompson) would take them on and find them a home, which he wasn’t able to do,” he said.
The RSPCA has used the horrific incident to remind people if they have an unwanted litter to bring to them to a reputable animal shelter.
Thompson faced a local court on Friday and pleaded guilty to three animal cruelty offences and resisting arrest.
He was granted bail on strict conditions, including that he not be alone with an animal without an adult present.
He is expected to be sentenced in April.