The Age, Maris Beck and Reid Sexton; Feb 4, 2012
The Rockbank property authorities raided on Thursday. Photo: Michael Copp
THE RSPCA says animal cruelty laws are insufficient as more than 100 goats, sheep, pigs and dogs remain in the custody of a man who has allegedly been slaughtering dogs for meat and against whom repeated cruelty complaints have been made to authorities.
The owner, Peter Avraam, 41, voluntarily surrendered eight dogs to the RSPCA yesterday and two others the day before. But about nine dogs remain in reportedly squalid conditions on the property, along with about 110 livestock.
The state government introduced tougher penalties for cruelty last year, but chief executive of the RSPCA Victoria, Maria Mercurio, said enforcement was still hamstrung and minimum standards were ”simply not good enough”.
”We would like to see not only stricter laws but stricter codes of practice too, which set out minimum standards for the keeping of animals.
”Sadly, what the RSPCA and the community would deem as unacceptable standards is not often the case by law … We certainly understand the community’s frustrations as we share those with them; however, it is saddening to think sometimes it is perceived we are not doing everything in our power.”
Animal advocate Debra Tranter took matters into her own hands on Thursday night, travelling to the Rockbank, property to persuade Avraam to relinquish the dogs to her. He gave her a female, believed to be a Great Dane-cross, whose bones showed clearly and who had been kept in a cage so small she could not stand up.
Avraam, who has been charged with multiple drug, stolen-property and ammunition offences, had complied with an RSPCA instruction to move the dog to a bigger pen by the time Ms Tranter had arrived. But she said it had been put in another filthy, small pen with a bowl of rotting food and cowered when Avraam neared.
The RSPCA has the power to make applications to a court to seize animals suffering cruelty or at risk. But Ms Mercurio said: ”Each animal was examined by our inspectors and an independent vet. Where issues were found, we gave legal orders to the owner related to the animal’s welfare.”
Authorities received multiple reports last year, from sources they considered reliable, that dogs were being illegally slaughtered there for meat. Investigations continue into possible unregistered dog offences, illegal slaughtering offences, and illegal wildlife possession. The authority responsible for meat safety, PrimeSafe, found no evidence of dogs being killed.
A state government spokeswoman said: ”Where warranted, the RSPCA has the ability to act.”