ACT News

Army veteran allegedly assaulted police and RSPCA inspector after breaking his companion dog out of shelter

A former Australian soldier allegedly assaulted police and an RSPCA inspector after breaking his companion dog out of a shelter.

Shane Van Duren, 41, is accused of cutting through three fences at the RSCPA's Weston Creek headquarters on Tuesday night to free his Belgian shepherd, which had been handed in by a member of the public who found it wandering the street.

Shane Van Duren and his dog, which he is accused of breaking out of the RSPCA.
Shane Van Duren and his dog, which he is accused of breaking out of the RSPCA. Photo: Facebook

The ACT Magistrates Court heard on Thursday the animal was a companion dog to assist in treating his post-traumatic stress disorder.

Van Duren then posted on social media that he had "sprung" the dog.

Police and an RSPCA inspector went to his Deakin home on Wednesday, but Van Duren allegedly refused to surrender the animal, and became involved in a violent scuffle when he attempted to flee.

He is alleged to have punched a police officer, causing a cut that required stitches, and choked the RSPCA inspector when she attempted to intervene.


The court heard, during the alleged incident, he said: "I'll kill you, you b----. You're f------ dead b----".

Officers called for back-up and subdued him with capsicum spray and batons.

The court heard the RSPCA inspector had received hospital treatment for a swollen neck and nose injury as a result of the incident.

Van Duren was charged with property damage, trespass, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, resisting arrest, and making threats to kill.

The prosecution opposed bail when Van Duren appeared before Magistrate Beth Campbell on Thursday morning, arguing he could commit further offences, including against the inspector or in a bid to recover the dog if released.

Defence lawyer, Dean Ager, from Legal Aid ACT, said his client was an army veteran who suffered from PTSD and used the dog as an assistance animal in his treatment.

"It's more than just a dog," he said.

Mr Ager said Van Duren had believed the dog to be lost - and claimed to have posted notices seeking its return - until he received correspondence from the RSPCA, which had held the animal until its owner could be verified.

He interpreted the RSPCA's letter to mean he would be required to take part in an interview before the dog would be returned, the court heard.

Mr Ager said his client now accepted he should have gone through proper channels to regain custody of the animal.

But the prosecution said Van Duren had an issue with the RSPCA, which he took out on the inspector, after a previous dog of his had been seized and euthanised due to neglect.

The defence said the destroyed animal had been a stray that Van Duren had taken in.

The prosecution also argued the inspector had almost "choked out" during the alleged attack and was scared of Van Duren.

The court heard the dog would be moved interstate to prevent further attempts at retrieval.

Magistrate Beth Campbell refused his bail application in court on Thursday morning, on the likelihood he could harass or endanger the welfare of others.

The court heard Van Duren had received counselling for his PTSD through Veteran Affairs, but details were not available in court.

Ms Campbell said she had been concerned by his "extraordinary and explosive loss of control".

"Something is wrong for this man to act with such aggression and ferocity," she said.

The magistrate said she could not grant bail until she had seen further information on whether the accused was a man who could abide by bail conditions.

Ms Campbell also questioned why the RSPCA inspector had become involved in the alleged altercation rather than allowing police to handle the situation.

She ordered a forensic mental health report be prepared and listed Van Duren listed to reappear in February.