Kay Dibben ; From:The Sunday Mail (Qld) ; October 16, 2011
IT was a dog fight of monumental proportions. In one corner was the ex-politician living in his penthouse. In the other, the 83-year-old pensioner and her pet poodle.
Widow Margaret Michael claims she was harassed for months by the body corporate chairman of her South Bank unit complex after her daughter gave her the toy poodle late last year.
The body corporate boss is former transport minister Steve Bredhauer who, with wife Lynne Pask, lives several floors above Mrs Michael in the penthouse apartment at Arbour on Grey.
The stoush began when Mrs Michael, whose husband died two years ago, was given the female puppy, Gussy, by daughter Adrienne Ghanem. Mrs Ghanem worried about her mum being lonely.
What followed was a long-running dispute with the building’s body corporate that ended last Tuesday when Mrs Michael was forced to send Gussy to live with a friend in north Queensland. “I’m heartbroken, but I can’t fight it anymore,” she said.
Mrs Michael said she was unaware she needed approval to keep a dog when she got Gussy and, when the body corporate later rejected her application, she appealed.
She claims she has suffered stress from Mr Bredhauer repeatedly calling Gussy names like “dirty stinking dog” and labelling her a “troublemaker”.
On one occasion, Mr Bredhauer stopped her from using the apartment lift with Gussy.”I had one leg in but he refused to allow me in because of my ‘smelly dog’,” Mrs Michael said.
Mr Bredhauer says he was in a business suit, and had bags and groceries in the lift, and did not want the dog jumping up on him.
The former Beattie government minister says he has merely been sticking up for the rights of other apartment residents who did not want the dog in the building.
“I have no doubt Mrs Michael has been caused stress by this,” Mr Bredhauer told The Sunday Mail.
“I have told her on a number of occasions that her dog is a nuisance and I have said to her she should be ashamed she’s putting people through the discomfort of having to listen to her dog barking constantly.”
The Queensland Body Corporate Commissioner rejected Mrs Michael’s appeal on September 30, after considering 37 submissions against her keeping the dog. Five supported her.
The mother of 11, who has lived in the building for 10 years, said only Mr Bredhauer, his wife and the building manager had complained to her.
Ms Ghanem said she regularly washed Gussy and Mrs Michael denied the dog barked excessively.
Mr Bredhauer said the rights of other tenants who wanted to live in a pet-free building should be respected.