Kialla family faces heartbreaking decision over pet dog

By Myles Peterson

The members of a Kialla family are devastated after authorities told them they will have to surrender their daughter’s companion dog Snoop to be euthanased, despite having witnessed no evidence of dangerous behaviour.

A bizarre series of events started when, just before Christmas, Whittlesea City Council phoned and emailed the family and said its new pet bought six months earlier would probably need to be killed.

David Moylan and Maggie Phillips bought Snoop from the RSPCA on June 15 last year in Epping for their daughter Maggie Phillips, 16, who has been battling depression.

Maggie said she and Staffy cross Snoop, 8, had become constant companions.

‘‘I have depression and when Mum’s not home and stuff, Snoop hangs out with me. If I’m upset, he’ll just sit in my lap. He senses it. He’s my dog,’’ Maggie said.

Whittlesea City Council’s partnerships, planning and engagement director Liana Thompson said the organisation was proposing to have Snoop classified as a dangerous dog following information that emerged from a recent court case.

‘‘This is an unusual and unfortunate situation and we sympathise with the new owners of Snoop. We will work with the family to ensure the process is as straightforward and stress-free as can be,’’ Ms Thompson said.

‘‘Unfortunately, the fact that Snoop had been involved in an attack was not known by either council or RSPCA at the time of his adoption. Council only made the discovery Snoop had been involved in the attack when information was provided as part of the court case.

‘‘We are sincerely sorry that this has eventuated, however, given the nature of the attack, council is proposing to declare Snoop a dangerous dog.’’

Whittlesea City Council said Snoop was reportedly involved in an attack on another dog in April 18 last year that led to that dog’s death.

The Phillips family said they deliberately bought an older dog from the RSPCA because they wanted to re-home a neglected pet while providing a companion for Maggie.

Ms Phillips said the RSPCA put all its animals through rigorous temperament testing with people and other animals and Snoop was deemed fit for re-homing.

‘‘They’ve taken him in, they’ve gone through their procedures as the RSPCA and they’ve dog tested him. They checked him out with other dogs and he was fine,’’ she said.

Since coming to live with the family, Ms Phillips said Snoop had never displayed any aggressive tendencies and his playful personality was blossoming in a loving home.

Documents given to the family deem that should Whittlesea City Council follow through with declaring Snoop dangerous, Greater Shepparton City Council will refuse to permit his re-registration.

A Greater Shepparton City Council spokeswoman said her organisation was unable to comment on Snoop’s specific case.

‘‘Council is required to ensure any declared dangerous dog is kept in accordance with the Domestic Animals Act 1994 and considers all applications to register a declared dangerous dog on an individual case basis,’’ she said.

Without re-registration, the family has two options: return Snoop to the Epping RSPCA or surrender him to Greater Shepparton City Council.

Either way, he will be euthanased.

‘‘So basically, at the end of the day, I have a dead dog, or I have a dead dog because someone has made a mistake,’’ Ms Phillips said.

But the family will not let it come to that.

‘‘That wouldn’t be an option for us,’’ Ms Phillips said.

‘‘We won’t be surrendering him. We’d take him in to be euthanased ourselves. He needs to be with people who love him. I don’t want him to be scared in a kennel when he’s had a family to love.’’