RSPCA Victoria is thrilled the Victorian County Court has found repeat animal cruelty offenders, Kon Petropoulos and his wife Liudmila Petropoulos guilty again, sending a strong message to illegal domestic animal businesses.
Mr and Mrs Petropoulos were accused by RSPCA Victoria of running an illegal domestic animal business and were faced with 47 charges including counts of animal cruelty under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTAA) and other charges under Domestic Animals Act (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
- Did sell, offer for sale, purchase, drive or convey the animal which appeared to be unfit because of weakness, emaciation, injury or disease to be sold, purchased, driven or conveyed
- Did advertise an animal for sale or giving away where the advertisement did not contain the source number and the unique microchip number
Today, the County Court found the couple guilty of all 47 charges. Mr and Mrs Petropoulos are now both required to attend the Ballarat Law Courts in person for sentencing on Friday 25 August 9:30am.
RSPCA Victoria’s Chief Inspector, Michael Stagg, said the Court’s decision sends a strong message to those considering illegal animal breeding and rearing.
“This outcome shows illegal breeding and rearing of animals, and animal cruelty will not be tolerated by the RSPCA, the community or by the courts,” Mr Stagg said.
“The Judge’s ruling in this case will hopefully put an end to this long standing and cruel business.
“RSPCA is determined to stamp out illegal breeding and rearing of animals and we are pleased the comprehensive investigative work by our inspectorate has been validated in court again.
“We call on all Victorians with information about animal cruelty, or those concerned about suspicious animal sales to make a report to the RSPCA, and for people to remain vigilant when it comes to buying a pet.”
Those looking to become dog or cat owners should check the RSPCA Smart Buyers Guides online with tips for identifying scams and ‘red flags’ when buying a pet 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.
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 rspcavic.org/tip-off-form/ immediately.
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 (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 of animal cruelty in total in May 2022, and fined a total of $122,000 by the Melbourne Magistrates Court and were banned from keeping or selling any cats of kittens for 10 years.