Dog breeder on cruelty charges wants fresh start

August 23, 2017

A dog breeder who has applied to start a dog re-homing and rehabilitation business at Mia Mia will face a Ballarat court on animal cruelty charges on August 29.

A LOCAL dog breeder facing animal cruelty charges has applied for permits to restart her business in Mia Mia.

Fiona McCoy stated in her application to the City of Greater Bendigo that facilities at her Mia Mia property would be used to “rehabilitate and house working dogs”.

Ms McCoy is one of two breeders facing 40 criminal charges for alleged offences under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

The RSPCA seized almost 70 dogs from Ms McCoy’s property near Ballarat early last year after it claimed they were living in squalid conditions.

The dogs have since been forfeited to the RSPCA as Ms McCoy was not able to pay their upkeep costs or obtain a permit to rehome the dogs.

COGB safe and healthy environments manager Caroline Grylls said council was aware of the charges against Ms McCoy.

“A planning permit application to house 68 dogs on a property in Mia Mia has finished public notice and will be subject to further consideration by the city,” she said.

“The planning permit sought only relates to the use and development of the land and a decision on the application cannot take into account the other legal proceedings.”

Ms Grylls said the city would have a role to play to ensure all animals kept at the property were registered and microchipped.

“If any allegations of animal cruelty within the municipality were reported, they would be investigated by the RSPCA,” she said.

“Any planning permit application that could impact adjoining properties will usually be subject to a public exhibition period of at least 14 days, which occurred for this application.

“The application has received six objections so far. If an application receives three or more, it is reported to council for a decision.

“It is likely the application will go to council for consideration in the coming months.”

Ms McCoy said she aimed to rebuild her business in Mia Mia and does not believe the animal cruelty charges against her should be a factor in consideration of the application.

“The magistrate hearing the trial was willing to return the dogs to us and the only thing stopping that was a permit not being granted in time,” she said.

“The magistrate would not have allowed the option of the dogs being returned if they thought they would be in danger.’’

Ms McCoy said she had taken reasonable steps to ensure minimal disruption to adjoining properties at the proposed site of her business.

“Some of the objections are reasonable and I understand where they are coming from, but others were borderline hysterical,” she said.

“People could have knocked on our door and talked to us about their concerns. They would have realised we are going above and beyond to ensure minimal issues.”

RSPCA Victoria said it was aware of the application but was unable to comment due to ongoing legal proceedings.

Ms McCoy will front court in Ballarat on August 29, when her criminal charges hearing will continue.

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