I have been following Bear & Kooda's plight since the beginning
'Dangerous' dogs doomed by VCAT decision - Cobram - mmg.com.au
MAY 23, 2012 4:25am
'Dangerous' dogs doomed by VCAT decision
A Cobram couple who challenged Victoria's tough new dog laws have lost the fight to save their dogs from death. Samantha Graham and Nathan Laffan now face an agonising decision.
A Cobram couple whose dogs have been kept in the Moira Shire pound since September last year have lost their case to save their precious pets.
Nathan Laffan and Samantha Graham said they were devastated by the findings of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which were handed down last Tuesday.
The Cobram residents are the first Victorians to challenge a new dog law introduced last year after the fatal mauling of Melbourne toddler Ayen Chol.
Chol was killed when she was mauled by a pit bull terrier.
The new laws state councils can seize and destroy unregistered pit bull terriers and their crosses, based on visual identification.
The trouble began in September, when Mr Laffan and Miss Graham tried to register dogs Bear and Kooda with Moira Shire Council.
‘‘We wanted to register them to do the right thing — we didn’t for one minute think Bear and Kooda had pit bull in them,’’ Mr Laffan said.
‘‘Our breeder told us they were out of a bull mastiff cross American bulldog and a staffie cross ridgeback.’’
The dogs were seized by council and have been kept in the pound ever since.
Moira Shire Council’s belief that the dogs were pit bull cross was upheld by VCAT last week. Despite evidence presented by Mr Laffan from veterinarians and the breeder about both dogs’ breeding, VCAT found that both Bear and Kooda met the Standard for Restricted Breed Dogs in Victoria, introduced in September 2011.
Bear and Kooda reportedly met the standard because of their height, head shape, muscle definition and length.
Mr Laffan and Miss Graham now face an agonising decision: appeal in the Supreme Court and keep the dogs in the pound even longer, or accept the findings and have Bear and Kooda destroyed.
When Cobram Courier spoke to Mr Laffan and Miss Graham last week, they were still trying to come to a decision.
‘‘Honestly, I don’t think we were surprised we lost,’’ Mr Laffan said.
‘‘It was a very costly process, and the council had lawyers at their disposal.
‘‘It’s just so sad.’’
Mr Laffan and Miss Graham said while they have 28 days to appeal VCAT’s decision, they are undecided about what steps to take.
‘‘To appeal will cost more money, and our dogs have been kept in a cage since September,’’ Miss Graham said.
‘‘This whole situation has been very unfair to them.
‘‘Obviously we would love to fight on, but it could take months, or even years, and we hate seeing our boys suffer in the council pound.’’
Mr Laffan and Miss Graham had the opportunity to see Bear and Kooda on Friday, but previously had not been able to visit them at the pound for almost two months.
‘‘It’s been a very hard process. We’ve both had to take time off work and pay for travel to and from Melbourne,’’ Mr Laffan said.
‘‘It’s very cruel that the dogs have been locked up in the pound for so long.
‘‘On Friday when Sam went to see the dogs, she wasn’t allowed to touch them.
‘‘Sam has really suffered in terms of health — she’s currently on medication for insomia, anxiety and depression.’’