Kelly Ryan ; From: Herald Sun; December 15, 2011
A HIGH-profile animal rescuer is willing to go to jail after being charged with the theft of puppies from a breeder.
Trish Burke, who founded Pets Haven shelter at Woodend, said she hoped publicity surrounding her expected court appearance would highlight the plight of breeding dogs that she said endured lives of misery to churn out cute and expensive puppies.
Ms Burke, who will contest the charges, said she fell foul of the law after a recent visit to a breeder.
She filmed herself at the farm, and the footage was later aired by another media organisation to promote Ms Burke’s work rescuing and rehoming sick, injured or abandoned animals.
The animal lover was with activist Deb Tranter, who founded Oscar’s Law to outlaw puppy farms.
Ms Burke claimed she took two sick pups from the farm straight to the RSPCA, where they were euthanised by a vet because of their condition.
Yet she said she had not been charged with the theft of those dogs, and had no idea about allegations that another four dogs were missing.
“While we were at the property, we called the local council, the police and the RSPCA,” she said.
“But we later called the police and told them we could not wait for them, as they were taking too long and we needed these puppies put out of their pain. Their screaming howls still haunt me.”
Ms Burke, of Sunbury, was stunned when charged.
“I’m not blaming the police at all, because they were fantastic and just there doing their job,” she said.
“But no one wants to be in trouble or up in front of a judge when they know they haven’t done anything wrong … Having said that, I’ll fight to clear my name, and if I can’t I’ll be happy to go to jail on an issue and cause I am passionate about and committed to.”
Ms Burke is due to appear at Echuca Magistrates’ Court on December 20.