A BALLARAT magistrate has condemned pit bulls being kept as family pets, saying the animals were putting lives at risk.
Magistrate Michelle Hodgson made the comments yesterday when sentencing two dog owners in Ballarat Magistrates Court.
Renee Reynolds, 22, had earlier pleaded guilty to seven charges after her three American bull terriers broke through a fence and attacked her neighbour’s curly coated retriever.
The retriever, Curly, was left with multiple puncture wounds and a veterinary bill of more than $2700.
Meanwhile Peta-Michelle Kalisperis, 37, pleaded guilty to four charges after her “pit bull type” dog attacked an elderly woman last November.
The 67-year-old victim was knocked to the ground, dragged and bitten on both hands when the dog escaped from its backyard.
Both attacks began after the dogs broke through fences.
“Pit bulls are not family pets, they are dangerous animals,” Ms Hodgson told the court.
She said the pet owners’ “blatant irresponsibility” had placed lives at risk, also referring to the death of four-year-old Melbourne girl Ayen Chol in August last year.
In that incident, the girl was dragged from her mother’s leg and mauled to death by a pit bull mastiff dog after it ran into her family’s home.
Curly’s owner Carolyn Prato yesterday told The Courier she thought she’d walked into a nightmare when she got home to find her beloved pet had been mauled by her neighbour’s dogs.
“I arrived at home and the back step was covered in blood. There was just blood everywhere and Curly was not moving,” she said.
“I was scared, I was angry and you have a million things going through your head as to what you need to be doing.”
Sliding Curly out from his kennel, Ms Prato and her son took the dog to the vet where he was quickly operated on. Then she was hit with the vet bill.
“You beg, you borrow, you get it off family and friends, you juggle your bills and you do what you’ve got to do,” Ms Prato said about meeting the costs. “But what do you do? It’s your dog, it’s part of your family.”
In court, Kalisperis was convicted and fined $2000, while Reynolds was fined $1250 with conviction.
A City of Ballarat spokesperson said two of Reynolds’ three dogs had been put down.
“The direct witness of the attack identified two dogs involved. Those two dogs were surrendered and subsequently destroyed,” he said.