Community corrections orders, fines and ten year ban for repeat animal cruelty offenders

Published on 8 September 2023

Repeat animal cruelty offenders Kon Petropoulos and his wife Liudmila Petropoulos will undergo community corrections orders and pay fines and costs of nearly $200,000 after being prosecuted by RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate and found guilty of 47 charges again.

Both Kon and Liudmila Petropoulos were:

  • Sentenced to a two-year community corrections order, during which they must perform 200 hours of community work.
  • Banned from owning and being in charge of, breeding, rearing, and sale of cats or kittens for ten years, to be monitored by RSPCA Victoria Inspectors to ensure compliance with the order.
  • Fined $25,000 each.
  • Ordered to pay RSPCA Victoria $144,247.87 in total costs.
  • Ordered to transfer or surrender any cats in their care within 14 days to RSPCA’s satisfaction.

During sentencing on 8 September, Her Honour Judge Hassan said the pair operated a “cruel and squalid business” and showed a complete lack of contrition and remorse.

“The public must be protected from unscrupulous operators that care only for profit,” Judge Hassan said.

RSPCA Victoria’s Chief Inspector, Michael Stagg, said today’s sentence should serve as a strong deterrent to those considering or currently engaged in illegal animal breeding, rearing or selling.

“The decision by the court today should be a stark warning to those considering or involved in the illegal breeding, rearing or selling of animals,” Mr Stagg said.

“RSPCA is determined to stamp out these illegal businesses, and our message to anyone considering it is simple – it’s not worth it.

“I’m incredibly proud of the work our Inspectors have done in this case, and it’s very satisfying to see this outcome.

“I’d also like to extend our thanks to members of the community who came forward with information about illegal animal breeding and rearing in this case – demonstrating that this type of animal cruelty won’t be tolerated by the RSPCA, the community, or by the courts.

“We urge all Victorians to remain vigilant when buying a pet to ensure they’re not contributing to this type of animal cruelty, and to report any suspicious animal sales to RSPCA.”

Anyone with concerns for the welfare of an animal or suspicious animal sales is encouraged to contact RSPCA Victoria on 03 9224 2222 or submit a report at immediately.

In 2020, Mr and Mrs Petropoulos were accused by RSPCA Victoria of running an illegal domestic animal business and faced 47 charges including counts of animal cruelty under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTAA) and other charges under the Domestic Animals Act 1994 (DAA). The charges included but weren’t limited to:

  • Unreasonably failing to provide veterinary or other appropriate attention or treatment to animals,
  • Loading, crowding or confining animals where the loading, crowding or confinement caused or was likely to cause pain or suffering
  • Selling, offering for sale, purchasing, driving or conveying an animal which appeared to be unfit because of weakness, emaciation, injury or disease to be sold, purchased, driven or conveyed
  • Advertising an animal for sale or giving away where the advertisement did not contain the source number and the unique microchip number

The RSPCA Smart Buyers Guides contains tips for identifying scams and ‘red flags’ for prospective dog or cat owners, including:

  • Red Flag: buying a pet over the internet without meeting them first, you could inadvertently be supporting an intensive breeding facility or poor breeding practices, or you could fall victim to a scam.
  • Red Flag: puppies or kittens advertised as ‘six-weeks old’ – always wait until puppies and kittens are at least eight weeks old before bringing them home so they are sufficiently weaned, and their immune systems are developed.
  • Red Flag: delivery being arranged – reputable breeders will want to meet you and find out more about you, and you should want to meet them, see the animal in person first – along with its parents where possible.

Previous animal convictions

Previously prosecuted by RSPCA Victoria in March 2020, Kon and Liudmila Petropoulos were charged with operating an illegal domestic animal business, failing to comply with the Code of Practice, failing to comply with the lawful direction of an authorised officer and improper confinement of ten cats.

As a result, they were each prohibited from conducting or working in a domestic animal business for 18 months, placed on an adjourned undertaking to be of good behaviour for a period of 18 months and fined $750 and $500 respectively.

In July 2020, after a public appeal for information, RSPCA Victoria again executed two warrants at Mr and Mrs Petropoulos’ property in Ballarat after receiving information from several members of the public who lodged official reports with RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate.

The reports claimed the couple was allegedly breaching a court-ordered ban by continuing to operate an illegal domestic animal business. RSPCA Victoria’s Major Investigations Team seized nine kittens at the property due to further alleged breaches of the Domestic Animals Act 1994 (DAA), in that they were not complying with the mandatory Code of Practice.

Both Mr and Mrs Petropoulos were charged with various cruelty offences under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTAA) relating to alleged breaches of animal welfare laws, including:

  • POCTAA 9(1)b – confinement of an animal where the confinement causes, or is likely to cause, unreasonable pain or suffering
  • POCTAA 9(1)i – failure to provide veterinary or other appropriate attention or treatment for an animal.

Mr Petropoulos was further charged with offences under the DAA, including failure to comply with the mandatory Code of Practice, sale of animals in a public place and offences relating to the advertising of animals for sale.

Mr Petropoulos was also charged with breaching a banning order for operating an illegal domestic animal business, while Mrs Petropoulos was further charged with breaching a banning order for working in an illegal domestic animal business.

Mr and Mrs Petropoulos were found guilty of 48 charges combined of animal cruelty in May 2022, fined a total of $122,000 by the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, and were banned from keeping or selling any cats or kittens for 10 years.

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