Ban them from owning an animal for 10 years, says the RSPCA

FILE PICTURE: Daniel Murphy and Fiona McCoy.
FILE PICTURE: Daniel Murphy and Fiona McCoy.

Two Wendouree dog breeders could be banned from owning an animal for up to 10 years after operating an illegal business in “filthy” housing conditions. 

A magistrate told Fiona McCoy and Daniel Murphy at Ballarat Magistrates Court on Wednesday their offending was extremely concerning, particularly from a community’s perspective.

RSPCA Victoria seized more than 70 working dogs from the pair after discovering they were living in conditions described in court as filthy, appalling and unsatisfactory.

Council staff found 52 unregistered dogs in trailers and crates at a Ring Road reserve in Wendouree on February 5, 2016, sparking an investigation into the breeders.

The court was told the dogs were removed from McCoy and Murphy’s Wendouree property and transported to the reserve to avoid detection by council officers who were due to inspect the property. 

Prosecutor Sebastian Reid said the smell of urine and faeces was overwhelming, the dogs had no access to water, they were overcrowded and a high temperature was predicted that day.

Three months later on April 29, warrants were executed at the pair’s Wendouree property where 21 dogs and puppies were found to be living in unsatisfactory conditions inside and outside the house.

Mr Reid said the dogs were housed in appalling conditions which included piles of faeces, strong urine smell, overcrowding, timber and corrugated iron scattered everywhere and an absence of food and water.

He said 19 of 21 dogs were found to have been suffering from illnesses, including various worms, circovirus and parasites.

Barrister Ray Alexander, for Murphy, said his client started breeding dogs when he was 14 and developed a passion for them. 

He said despite a late guilty plea, Murphy did accept his offending and had shown remorse.

Christopher Wareham, for McCoy, said his client started working with dogs in the 1990s and held various positions in the industry. 

He said the offending had caused a loss of profession, employment and reputation. 

The RSPCA urged the court to ban McCoy and Murphy from owning animals for 10 years, the maximum time allowed.

The pair will be assessed for a community corrections order and will return to court on December 11.

They pleaded guilty to multiple animal cruelty charges in September.