THE Shire of Mundaring has come under fire for impounding two dogs for more than a year while awaiting the outcome of court proceedings over their alleged involvement in the killing and maiming of 39 sheep.
Two Sox and Floyd were reunited on Tuesday with their relieved owners Simon and Hazel Wheatley-Hey, from The Lakes, after a key witness was unable to give evidence at the upcoming three-day trial starting in Northam on May 10.
Shire chief executive Jonathan Throssell said the dogs were subject to very serious allegations of attack and the Shire was empowered to seize and hold those dogs until the outcome of the court case.
Mr Throssell said due to circumstances beyond the Shire’s control, one of the witnesses in the court case would be out of the State and unable to provide evidence in person at the trial.
He said last week it was agreed between the parties that the case be adjourned until a new court date was provided.
“As the dogs have already been impounded for more than 12 months, the Shire has agreed to release them into the care and control of their owners, pending the outcome of the court case,” he said.
Family friend Jim Dunstan said it was great to see the dogs back home again.
“They should have been home a long time ago,” he said. “I have been appalled at how the Shire and the councillors have displayed complete indifference to the plight of these two dogs over the past 14 months.
“The Shire has a responsibility to deal with dog attacks but when ratepayers and residents try and point out the wrong dogs have been seized they need to stand up and listen, not stonewall and ignore.
“To think this has cost ratepayers $28,000 so far and still rising is outrageous and a complete waste of council funds.”
An RSPCA inspector visited the Shire’s pound in February 2017 and found its overall condition to be outstanding and found no contraventions of the Dog Act 1976.
However an RSPCA spokesman would not comment on whether the pound was a suitable place for a dog to be held for an extended period.
“Time in the pound will affect each animal differently,” he said.
“When an animal comes to the RSPCA for a potentially extended period as part of a prosecution case, we will assess the animal to ensure it is healthy and does not present any behavioural issues that could be a risk to other animals or the community.
“Following any necessary rehabilitation, we endeavour to find a foster home for the animal until the case has run its course, when it will either be returned to its owner, or forfeited to the State as per direction from the court.”
Mr Throssell said the Shire’s pound was registered and suitable for holding dogs awaiting prosecution.
He said under the Dog Act 1976, there were clear requirements which the Shire takes very seriously in order to keep residents and their animals safe.
“Where we believe there is a serious offence, it is our responsibility to prosecute in accordance with the law as we do not want to see people or animals injured,” he said.