Canberra man appeals dog ownership ban

Canberra man appeals dog ownership ban

A Canberra man appealed against a court-ordered animal ban on Wednesday that had barred him from owning dogs for five years.

On March 4, 2016, RSPCA inspectors seized a dog belonging to Shane Keir, alleging he failed to notice an infection after a chain had become tight around its neck.

It's not suggested Keir caused the dog's injury, but that he failed to notice it and take the dog to the vet.

It's not suggested Keir caused the dog's injury, but that he failed to notice it and take the dog to the vet.


Keir was charged and pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable steps to alleviate the animal's pain. He was convicted by a magistrate, handed a good behaviour order and ordered to make reparations of some $3000.

On Wednesday in the ACT Supreme Court, the man's lawyer Paul Edmonds argued the sentence should have stopped there. But the man had also been banned from owning dogs for five years, except for one working dog, and ordered to complete community service. He said these parts of the sentence were manifestly excessive.

Mr Edmonds argued there was no evidence Keir was incapable of caring for animals so as to warrant the imposition of a ban. He had no relevant prior convictions and had not shown a tendency to be cruel to animals.


He said indications the dog had been chained up for two months straight were wrong, because the dog had been taken out on the man's farm to herd livestock.

He suggested the dogs ban was inconsistent with the magistrate's decision to allow the farmer to keep horses and cattle, as well as one dog, "even though he was supposed to be incapable of looking after dogs."

While images of the dog's injury may evoke an "emotional response", Keir had not been charged with causing the injury, he said, though that was an option under the law.

But prosecutor Tanya Skvortsova said the circumstances of the case warranted not only the ban but also its limited scope. She said that had meant Keir could carry on farming, continue showing his horses and keep the working dog he already owned.

In sentencing the magistrate had said the man was incapable of looking after smaller animals, as distinct from his livestock and livelihood, she said.

She said the dog's injury was fairly serious and was sustained over a period of at least two weeks before the inspectors turned up to the property. That pointed to the overall seriousness of the offence, she said.

Ultimately, she said, it was an appropriate sentence.

The prosecutor also noted that before considering the animal ban appeal the judge would have to first decide whether or not he had the jurisdiction to hear that appeal.

Mr Edmonds argued the judge did have jurisdiction.

Justice David Mossop reserved his decision.

Alexandra Back is a reporter with The Canberra Times

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