Sharni (left) and Charlie

Sharni (left) and Charlie Photo: Supplied

UPDATE: Animal welfare and rescue organisations across several states have scrambled to join a last-ditch effort to save two dogs from being put down by the Frankston City Council.

The case of bull mastiff-cross Charlie and shar pei-cross Sharni, accused of killing a cat, has sparked online outrage after the council opted to use its discretion to seek the euthanasia of the pets rather than enforce a dangerous dog declaration that would allow the dogs to remain with their owners under strict controls.

Fairfax Media revealed on Thursday that Frankston council this week rejected a proposal by the RSPCA South Australia to take on the ownership of the dogs and have them assessed by professional animal behaviourists to determine if they could be retrained and found new homes. 

RSPCA Queensland and the NSW-based DoggieRescue.com and Dog Rescue Newcastle had by Friday morning also made offers to help the dogs, which will be put down at close of business unless a final appeal to the Victorian Supreme Court is launched. 

RSPCA Queensland chief executive Mark Townend said the organisation was offering the council a legitimate alternative to euthanasing the dogs.

‘‘If those dogs are properly assessed and there really isn’t an issue with them in the community, we’d certainly look at taking them on and making sure they're a good community member and rehoming them,’’ Townend said.

‘‘What I find is with councils right across Australia, some are really good and others have got a siege mentality and maybe it’s got to that point down there? I don’t know.’’

The dogs' owners, Shannon Holt and Evan Jeremiejczyk, say that after eight months they were emotionally shattered and were no longer financially able to continue the fight that has included them pleading guilty in the Frankston Magistrates Court to three charges relating to the dogs’ killing of the cat and a Victorian Supreme Court hearing that was stopped when both parties agreed to a review of the case.

The dogs, which were unregistered and had escaped the owners' property because of poor fencing, were captured by council officers on November 8.

A three paragraph response to the RSPCA South Australia offer by Frankston City Council chief executive Dennis Hovenden stated that the proposal was discussed by council but rejected, although a reason was not provided.

Mr Hovenden and Frankston mayor Darrel Taylor would not talk to Fairfax Media on Thursday. However, the council has previously released claims that the dogs had irresponsible owners, who did not pay the fines, and that two cats had been killed. The allegations have been strongly disputed by the Ms Holt and Mr Jeremiejczyk.

A council spokesperson told Fairfax Media on Thursday that the council ‘‘still had some doubt with the dogs that they could be rehabilitated or rehoused by the RSPCA South Australia so they weren’t prepared to take that risk’’.

RSPCA South Australia chief executive Tim Vasudeva said the reasoning was flawed because the RSPCA has a well-established rehabilitation program and would not release dangerous dogs into the community.

He said the decision to euthanase would be taken if its behaviourists assessed the dogs as not being redeemable.

‘‘That’s our business, assessing and rehabilitating dogs and other animals,’’ Mr Vasudeva said.

‘‘We understood that there was an issue with these dogs in terms of some ... cat aggression but that is not unusual for dogs.

‘‘We were happy to take on any liability associated with those dogs and full custody and ownership so there were no residual issues for council. 

‘‘Our behavioural evaluation program [is] longstanding and well-developed and we employ three full-time qualified behaviourists to do that work and we were happy to do that over an extended period of time.’’

Mr Vasudeva said he was disappointed with the council’s decision.

‘‘That’s the offer that we put forward and that we thought was quite reasonable,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s disappointing that the council hasn’t elected to take that up. We got a brief response from them saying ‘thanks but we’ve made our decision’ ... I’m not quite clear about the rationale that is behind that decision but that’s their entitlement.’’

Ms Holt said she was devastated by her dogs’ apparent fate. She was told about the RSPCA offer on Thursday and said she would have readily agreed to surrender the dogs to the shelter if it prevented them from being euthinased.

‘‘My dogs deserve to be alive. They don't deserve to be murdered like they're going to be,’’ said Ms Holt, who broke down several times when she spoke to Fairfax Media on Thursday.

‘‘I was 100 per cent willing to pay the fines that we were given and I was never going to fight to not pay them or anything. I understand that it was our fault that the dogs were out and they shouldn’t have been out.

‘‘I treated these dogs like they were my kids. I am not a bad owner. They’re not just pets to me ... I’ve done everything I can. The council has too much money and too much power.’’

The Barristers’ Animal Welfare Panel’s Graeme McEwen, who requested the approach by RSPCA South Australia, said the council’s actions were not about community safety.

‘‘These hapless animals are to forfeit their lives to send a message to dog owners. It is pointless. The council has already prosecuted the owners. Why should these dogs and family members be the collateral victims of what the council perceives to be a management issue on the part of owners?’’ Mr McEwen said.

Lawyers for Companion Animals principal Anne Greenaway, who represented Ms Holt and Mr Jeremiejczyk, said that late on Thursday two more animal welfare and rescue groups also offered to rehabilitate the dogs. She said she would spend the night attempting to attract more.

A council spokesperson said Mr Hovenden and Cr Taylor would comment after the appeal period had expired.