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Zeus the dog escapes the death sentence - but now faces life in chilly Canberra

Zeus is briefly united with his owner after being released from the pound on Wednesday, before he left for Canberra.

Zeus is briefly united with his owner after being released from the pound on Wednesday, before he left for Canberra. Photo: Supplied

A Brisbane family's dog has been spared a death sentence, after a social media campaign to save him helped secure his release on Wednesday.

But it is a bittersweet affair for the family who, after an eight month court battle and an impoundment fee nearing $5000, were forced to relinquish their beloved pet in order to obtain his freedom.

Zeus is now on his way to the Australian Capital Territory, one of the few states or territories not to have banned breed legislation, Melanie Isaacs, a founding member of the Sydney-based advocacy group Team Dog, said.

Zeus, the dog at the centre of a social media storm

Zeus, the dog at the centre of a social media storm Photo: Supplied

"It's incredibly bittersweet for his family, they are absolutely ecstatic because for a long time it was on the table he would be killed," she said.

"They are ecstatic he can now get what he deserves, and that is a full, long and healthy life but then he can't come home and live with them."

Zeus was detained after being captured by Brisbane City Council rangers in Sunnybank in late August last year.

A destruction order was issued when he was deemed to be partly American Pitbull, a breed banned within the municipality.

A council spokesperson said independent advice was sought to verify the dog's breed.

Both council veterinary officers and the head of veterinary science at the University of Queensland assessed him as a pit-bull.

Zeus' owners disputed the order through a number of court hearings, arguing they believed him to be a labrador/Staffordshire terrier cross breed.

However, after a number of court appearances, it was only when Team Dog launched the Facebook group Save Zeus and more than 1500 people joined, council agreed to release the animal.  

Ms Isaacs said the public reaction to Zeus' possible death showed many people did not support breed specific legislation.

"I have no doubt dogs are being put to sleep everywhere with breed specific legislation and no one knows about it," she said.

"It's extremely costly to take anything to court and the sad thing about breed specific legislation is it's targeting families without the knowledge and finances to fight the orders."

Ms Issacs said one of the major drawbacks of the legislation was its subjectivity, with appearance being the only determining factor.

"A lot of people have the impression this legislation targets people who break the law, this case is a perfect example this is not true," she said.

"In 99 per cent of cases this legislation targets families like yours and mine and the huge public outcry shows the general public is not okay with families being treated like this and dogs having their lives ended for nothing more than their appearance."

Zeus will soon arrive at his new home in Canberra, Ms Issacs said, where he will live with a woman who recently lost her dog to cancer.

7 comments so far

  • Sad for the family but a great outcome for Zeus. I am sure Zeus would be very happy to be wearing the latest doggie jacket or coat rather than wearing the outcome of someones myopic and uninformed view of his heritage.

    I own a Rottie
    Date and time
    March 19, 2014, 10:17PM
    • We love our dogs in Canberra. I have a short haired dog, she sleeps inside. Most of us have central heating. Zeus will have the life he deserves here.

      Date and time
      March 19, 2014, 11:02PM
      • The 22 point breed identification checklist has been discredited in many Court cases ... Taylor V Gold Coast Council, Willis V RedCliffe and Gympie Councils, De Frey V Logan City Councils, Chivers V Gold Coast City Council. The officer that, taught all Animal Control officers in Qld discredited herself in Court by stating she taught herself of the internet. Self-proclaimed experts!
        That these experts in dog breed identification held training to a level supported in the "Rules of Law" as a true expert? l would sue the Council for Maladministration, Misfeasance, and Malfeasance.. Shameful that you still use the 22 point checklist breed id when it's being discredited in Court cases.

        Date and time
        March 20, 2014, 3:38AM
        • I think the headline should be "Dog spared from stupid unnecessary death in sweaty Brisbane" - Amazing that a 'dangerous' dog is 'less dangerous' a few hundred kilometres south, where the applicable legislation is fairer and is more sensible.
          I hope Zeus's current owners can form a friendship with his new owner and maybe get to visit him from time to time.

          Date and time
          March 20, 2014, 8:46AM
          • Let me see life in Canberra gives the dog lakes, rivers, mountains, open space, coast not too far away, new loving owners.. lucky dog. Stupid headline.

            The Howl
            Date and time
            March 20, 2014, 11:14AM
            • I follow Wil Wheaton on Twitter. He has adopted a couple of rescue dogs that look an awful lot like pit bull/staffy breeds. He has said in the past that they needed to get their dogs DNA tested to determine their breed mix in order to be covered by insurance.

              This sounds like a damned fine idea. Why can't we do that here?

              DNA testing would certainly clear up any confusion around breeds that look similar but aren't potentially dangerous.

              Date and time
              March 20, 2014, 11:21AM
              • Life in Canberra. Surely a fate worst than death..

                Date and time
                March 20, 2014, 12:17PM

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