Seized dog returned to owner

A pet dog has been allowed to return to its Churchill owner after it was seized by police earlier this month under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act when it was found at the bottom of a wheelie bin.

On Friday afternoon a civil application to have the German short-haired pointer bitch permanently removed from her owner failed in the Latrobe Valley Magistrates Court.

The court had previously heard from two neighbours who had raised concerns about the dog’s living environment and treatment.

One said since the start of the year they had witnessed the owner slap the dog in the face, strike the dog and on one occasion stand on it and balance for 15 seconds.

Another neighbour had told the court they heard “horrific howling and screaming” on Friday, 5 July.

On that day police attended the 30 year-old owner’s property, where they observed a dog chain suspended from a roof truss which ended at ground level.

The court heard they discovered the eight month-old dog in a wheelie bin with the lid closed and wood-cuttings, chilli and vinegar at the bottom of the bin, which the owner had said was part of a training regime.

He said he had sought advice from the RSPCA and had been told as long as the dog was not in the bin for too long and was not injured, the practice was okay.

The court heard the owner had conceded to disciplining the dog by slapping it with two fingers and he regularly took it for exercise in a park.

He had told the court he trained three dogs overseas before coming to Australia, while a friend had described him to the court as a loving and responsible pet owner who regularly disciplined his dog which “screamed” when he told it off.

Magistrate Clive Alsop refused the application to remove the dog, saying there was no material to indicate she had sustained injuries.