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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Dog on Death Row in Australia Gets Temporary Reprieve

The Age reports:

The owner of a dog held on death row for more than a year has won a Supreme Court appeal which could save the animal's life.

Kerser was 10 months old when he was seized by Monash Council officers in December last year after being identified as an unregistered American pit bull, a restricted breed dog banned under dangerous dog laws, and was scheduled to be put down.

Under the Dangerous Animals Act 2004, a "restricted breed dog" is one of five specified breeds including "American pit bull terrier (or pit bull terrier)".
. . .

In June, the council gave Kerser a last-minute reprieve when Ms Applebee indicated that she would appeal her dog's case to the Supreme Court's common law division, judicial review and appeals list.

The case was heard before Justice Michael Croucher who then overturned the decision by Supreme Court associate judge Rita Zammit not to allow Ms Applebee to appeal the tribunal's original finding.

In his judgment handed down on Tuesday, Justice Croucher said Kerser had been seized by council officers on December 4 last year. The council gave notice to Ms Applebee a week later that Kerser had been declared an American pit bull terrier and had to be destroyed.

He said Justice Zammit erred in saying there were no grounds for appeal because the deputy president of the tribunal had decided Kerser was an American pit bull on the basis of "an overall impression" after viewing the dog.
The article goes through some of the details of Croucher's decision, noting that a general impression of the dog fell short because it did not involve "precise measurements."  Meanwhile, the Monash City Council, steamed at its legal costs, is calling for reform in dog laws, describing the existing laws as "sloppy and unworkable."  One proposed fix will put the burden of proof on the dog owner to show that the dog is not a restricted dog breed, and will limit the time for the owner to appeal a ruling that the dog is of an illegal breed.

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