While the news that Lennox’s owners have lost their appeal causes an enormous worldwide outcry, a more local but no less unjust murder is happening right here, right now in Australia.
In early 2011, dog owner Nathan Laffan bought two dogs and named them Kooda and Bear.
They were purchased from a byb as ‘American Bulldog/Bull Mastiff Staffi Cross’. They were microchipped and attended the vet as ‘mastiff crosses’. When the new Victorian restricted dog legislation was publicised, Nathan contacted his local council to double check his dogs would be ok.
He went to the Moira Council offices and met with Mr Bob L’Anson, a Council law enforcement officer. They agreed Mr L’Anson would inspect the dogs the next day. After visiting the dogs at home Mr L’Anson deemed both to be ‘pit bull/mastiff crosses’.
Now, as ‘restricted breeds’ and being only seven months old at the time, it was not legally possible for Nathan to register them. The dogs were seized.
Nathan applied to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for a review of the decision to declare the dogs. The case went to court in February, five months after the dogs were taken from their home. Nathan represented himself. Council was legally represented. At the end of the hearing, Nathan asked the court for the opportunity to present further evidence, saying he hadn’t realised the process would be so formal. In April the case went back to court again. Mr Laffan’s evidence included:
A statutory declaration from Mr Michael Brown who sold the dogs (to another person who apparently on sold the dogs to Mr Laffan). Mr Brown did not give evidence at the hearing. His declaration says in part that both Kooda and Bear, who are from the same litter;
… are American bulldog/bull mastiff x staffy. The father is an American bulldog/bull mastiff and the mother is a staffy. There is no pitbull in either of the parents. Both parents have been inspected by the local state ranger and law enforcement officer and he has cleared both parents from having any pitbull in them whatsoever.
Despite this evidence that there was no ‘pit bull’ in either the mother or the father of Bear and Kooda, the Mr L’Anson, the authorised officer who declared the dogs gave evidence that he believed them to be a restricted breed. He had been employed by the council as an authorised officer since 2005 and had previous experience in seizure of dogs. He had also attended training seminars on the identification of restricted breed dogs.
The ‘not pit bull’ dogs were declared to be restricted breeds by VCAT.
The council gave the date of this Friday 15th June as their kill date. They brought the date forward and they were killed this afternoon.