The Magistrate at the Byron Bay Local Court has issued a warrant for the arrest of the owner of a menacing dog after she failed to appear in court last week.
It followed an incident in Byron Bay in January 2018 when the defendant’s dog, an American Staffordshire terrier, badly injured a toy poodle and bit the poodle’s owner and another person at a property in Jonson Street.
The poodle’s neck was ripped open during the attack and it was revealed the Staffordshire terrier was a declared menacing dog after biting a six year old boy in Sydney in 2016.
Staff from Byron Shire Council’s Animal and Enforcement team investigated the incident and found the dog was not muzzled or under effective control at the time of the attack as was required under the Companion Animals Act.
Given the severity of the injuries to the poodle, and the seriousness of the matter, staff issued a Court Attendance Notice in lieu of an on-the-spot fine.
Council staff could not intervene concerning the control of the dog as the owner relocated to Queensland.
Council’s Legal Counsel, Ralph James, said that when the defendant failed to appear in court her solicitor withdrew from proceedings and the matter was dealt with in her absence.
The defendant was convicted and a warrant issued for her arrest. The court also ordered that she pay $7,600 in professional costs and witnesses expenses.
‘The Magistrate indicated that he was not prepared to impose a fine in the defendant’s absence because it did not indicate the seriousness of the matter,’ Mr James said.
‘The defendant was also disqualified for life from owning a dog or being in charge of a dog in a public place,’ he said.
‘When the defendant is ultimately brought before the court she is facing a maximum penalty of $22,000 or four years in prison,’ Mr James said.