This is certainly not the news that I wanted to share in our continuing coverage of Kerser, a dog who was seized by Monash animal control officers in December because he resembled a banned breed.
Jada Applebee’s bid to have the Supreme Court overturn the death sentence of her dog, Kerser, has failed. A Justice rejected the appeal by Ms. Applebee based on legal technicalities. Ms Applebee was seeking to overturn a decision by the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) that classed Kerser as an American pit bull terrier, a restricted breed.
According to Monash Mayor Drieberg, under state government laws that were introduced to protect the community, they are now required to have the dog euthanized. Kerser is expected to be put down by the RSPCA this week.
In April, we learned that the Monash council’s designation of Kerser as a “pit bull” was upheld by VCAT. Kerser’s designation came despite a December Supreme Court ruling that slammed the process by which the Victorian government identifies pit bulls. The judge ruled that the physical characteristics of a dog must have a closer association with government guidelines for dangerous breeds. The Supreme Court’s ruling highlighted the difficulties in identifying dogs believed to be American pit bull terriers, and was considered to be a blow to the laws introduced in September 2011 that require “pit bulls” to be registered, microchipped, spayed/neutered, and muzzled when in public.
At Kerser’s 2-day hearing in February, three Monash animal management officers testified that Kerser was a restricted breed. This determination was made by visual identification, as well as measurements by tape measure of the dog’s head, eyes, cheeks and neck. Interestingly enough, the tape measurements indicated that Kerser was not a pit bull, but the animal management officer simply stated that the dog can have “flaws,” and the measurements don’t necessarily mean the dog is not a “pit bull.” Moreover, testimony was rendered by an international dog judge who argued that the council’s animal officers had erred in their measurements of Kerser.
Regardless, VCAT upheld the declaration by the Monash Council that Kerser is a “pit bull.” In upholding the declaration, VCAT Deputy President Lambrick found that Kerser’s head, muzzle, skull, body and eyes matched the pit bull standard as outlined under Victoria’s restricted breed laws. (i.e., the very same outline that was harshly criticized by the Supreme Court in December.) Specifically, Ms. Lambrick stated that while Kerser “may not be a perfect example of a pit bull, but he meets the standard to some degree and, importantly, in the areas of musculature and strength.”
Animal control laws are in place to maintain order and safety in the community, which begs the questions… Will Monash be safer now that a dog that never posed a threat to anyone will be destroyed? And how many other innocent family companions that happen to meet the vague standards of this senseless, biased and cruel law will fall victim to it?
We are incredibly disappointed to learn that the Supreme Court will not hear this case, and that Kerser will be killed simply because he has the appearance of a “pit bull.” My heart goes out to Kerser and Ms. Applebee.
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