Race to save dogs on death row
The fate of 10 border collies seized from a Murray Mallee puppy farm hangs in the balance with fears the RSPCA will kill the animals.
The RSPCA rescued heavily pregnant dogs and five puppies from a Lameroo property in October, charging breeders Colin Ross and Kerrie Fitzpatrick with 17 offences including ill treatment of an animal causing harm.
Details of the seizures have been revealed after Supreme Court Justice Sam Doyle on Friday rejected Mr Ross' appeal against a Magistrate's order granting legal ownership of the dogs to the RSPCA.
The court head that inspections of Mr Ross' property had identified more than 300 dogs despite the breeder only having a licence to house 100.
Nearly 50,000 people have signed an online petition urging the RSPCA to release the animals to WA-based WISH Animal Rescue.
The plea came after it emerged two reports by an independent dog behaviour expert recommended that the RSPCA euthanase the dogs due to mental trauma.
An RSPCA spokeswoman said that staff had worked tirelessly to overcome the behavioural issues with the dogs.
She said the RSPCA was waiting on a third report by an external dog behaviour expert of "national renown" before deciding on the animals' future.
She was unsure when that report would be finalised.
She said the dogs had given birth to a number of puppies and it was the plan for them, and the other five puppies, to be rehomed.
WISH Animal Rescue volunteer Phil Kitto, who launched the rescue petition, said there were 23 border collies at the RSPCA Lonsdale shelter.
"We want those 23 dogs," he said. "They are rehomable every dogs in there is not aggressive … a lot of them are young and can be rehomed and rehabilitated."
Oscar's Law founder and veteran animal rights activist Debra Tranter called on the RSPCA to house the dogs with experienced rescue groups.
"An assessment of their behaviour should not be done any puppy farm dog until it has been in a foster care home for at least two weeks," she said. "The RSPCA has its own foster care network and these dogs should be placed immediately in foster homes."