Body corporate overruled on pet
BY NATASHA RUDRA
28 Oct, 2011 04:00 AM
A Canberra woman has won the right to keep her pet Staffordshire bull terriers in her apartment complex after taking her case to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Karina Lanfranchi had asked her body corporate for permission to keep the two dogs in her ground-floor unit but was knocked back on the grounds that the dogs could be dangerous to other residents.
But this week the tribunal ordered that the animals should stay, ruling that the owners' corporation had been unreasonable and had mistakenly believed the dogs, Zoe and Lola, were pit bulls.
Ms Lanfranchi purchased the unit and her dogs in September last year and in January she asked the executive committee for permission to keep the dogs at her apartment.
In February the committee refused her request, despite a majority of fellow apartment owners voting in favour of Ms Lanfranchi before the committee meeting.
The committee said the dogs were classified as ''pit bulls'', which were not suitable for apartment living.
It was also suggested that the dogs had a record of biting people and other animals and should be muzzled and leashed.
In an ACAT hearing earlier this month, Ms Lanfranchi and her lawyer Russell Patrick brought evidence that the dogs were desexed according to the apartment block's pet policy and had been trained to socialise with people.
A vet from the Animal Medical Centre gave evidence that Staffordshire terriers were a different breed from pit bulls and were not bred for fighting.
The vet told the tribunal that Zoe and Lola had been to puppy school and were quiet, well-behaved dogs with careful and dedicated owners.
The owners' corporation provided the tribunal with documents about pit bulls from a national dog-bite victims' group and an article from The Sydney Morning Herald titled ''Killer dog destroyed as neighbours reveal horror of attack in house''.
The tribunal also heard that one of the owners in the unit complex had raised a complaint about the dogs' smell.
Tribunal senior member Jann Lennard said there was no evidence to support the executive committee's concerns about Zoe and Lola.
She said the committee had made a decision that was based on ''erroneous assumptions'' and not supported by evidence or information.
Ms Lennard granted Ms Lanfranchi permission to keep Zoe and Lola at her apartment provided they were confined to the home or the backyard and were on a leash outside the apartment.