Legal dogfight saves Rusty
October 26, 2006 12:00am
FOR 14 months Rusty was a dead dog walking as a Queensland council poured $100,000 into a legal battle to defend an order to kill the family pet.
But he escaped the death sentence when a DNA test proved he had been wrongly identified as a prohibited american pit bull terrier.
His owner Dino Da Fre bought Rusty for $300 as a staffordshire terrier cross from a pet store five years ago.
"This was one of the worst times of my life. I stopped working and I pretty much couldn't sleep at all," he said.
The legal dogfight has called into question the methods used by Australian councils to identify and destroy thousands of dangerous dogs. A submission is now being prepared for the CMC, in which allegations will be made that Queensland councils have engaged in official misconduct and misused their power to seize and destroy dogs.
"We believe that they have given misleading evidence to magistrates courts," said Linda Watson, president of the Endangered Dog Breeder's Association of Australia.
Eighteen southeast Queensland councils use the same 22-point checklist that wrongly identified Rusty. In her decision last week, Beenleigh magistrate Sheryl Cornack deemed the checklist was "subjective" and "not created for the purpose of identification of dog breeds".
"The system has not been subjected to independent scientific testing or scrutiny," she said.
While stopping short of ruling on the legality of the test, Ms Cornack has ordered Logan City Council to pay Mr Da Fre's costs of $20,833. The council's legal bill totalled $74,000. Rusty's 450 days on death row cost it $8388 in sustenance fees plus $500 in veterinary care.
Council officers seized Rusty in April 2005 and determined he was a pit bull-type dog, liable for destruction.
Mr De Fre immediately appealed the council ruling and the case was twice deferred.
The council revoked its destruction order after DNA testing traced Rusty to his mother Peggy and concluded he was a staffordshire terrier cross.
tybrax Big thankyou goes to Jon Mokomoko and Kylie.
Self proclaimed EXPERT, part of the transcript.
Debra Pomeroy, Expert witness and Animal Control Officer/Trainer breed identification.
Dino Da Fre Vs Logan City Council, 1st and 2nd of March 2006, Magistrate Cornack.
(â€œDebra Pomeroy and the 22 point checklist; was she trained and how many times can she lie before she gets caught outâ€