On 5 June 2015 Ozzy and Luna, two Staffordshire Bull Terriers living in Ceduna, South Australia, escaped from their yard whilst their owner was getting his infant child out of the car. Both dogs ran up to a man in the street and nipped him and then ran away. The man sustained superficial injuries. The District Council of Ceduna wrote to the owners advising that this incident did not warrant the making of any order but instead issued expiation notices and warned that any further incident could result in orders being made against each dog.
Immediately after this incident, the owners installed a secondary fence in the backyard. On 7 July 2015, Ozzy and Luna dug out of the secondary and primary fence and whilst at large nipped a man who was in the front yard of a nearby house and then immediately ran away. This man also sustained superficial injuries. Ozzy and Luna were seized by DCC and destruction orders were issued for both dogs. Whilst impounded DCC arranged for a local veterinarian to conduct a behavioural assessment. On 23 July 2015 the veterinarian viewed both dogs briefly via a ‘walk through’ of the kennels. He then provided an 11 line report in which he said that Ozzy and Luna were a danger to society and should be destroyed.
Ozzy and Luna’s owners contacted the Panel for assistance. An appeal against the destruction orders was lodged and Panel Chair, Joana Fuller, acted as Counsel in the appeal instructed by Tindall Gask Bentley Lawyers. Before the appeal was due to be heard arrangements were made for Mr Bob Yeo, an accredited dog trainer and handler with 25 years’ experience, to conduct a behavioural assessment of both dogs. Mr Yeo travelled to Ceduna and conducted the assessment, entering each kennel to spend time with Ozzy and Luna and then leading each dog from its kennel to observe its behaviour towards himself and DCC staff members. Mr Yeo found that both dogs responded well to commands and showed no signs of aggression towards himself or DCC staff. He said with proper training and management neither dog would pose a threat to members of the public. Mr Yeo also said that the ‘walk through’ conducted by the veterinarian on 23 July 2015 was inadequate and that he had never encountered that type of assessment in all of his years in dog handling and training.
Before the appeal was heard the owners decided to relocate to another country town for employment reasons. As a result, DCC agreed to withdraw the destruction orders and dangerous dog orders were made by consent. In late October both dogs were released and are now living happily with their owners in their new home.
The Panel extends its grateful thanks to Bob Yeo and to Rachael Shaw and Jo Henderson of Tindall Gask Bentley who worked tirelessly to save Ozzy and Luna.