RSPCA successfully prosecutes repeat offenders
Two repeat animal cruelty offenders were today penalised a total of over $122,000 by the Melbourne Magistrates Court and were banned from keeping or selling any cats or kittens for ten years – sending a strong message to potential offenders that illegal behaviour involving animals will not be tolerated in Victoria.
RSPCA Victoria has today successfully prosecuted Kon and Liudmila Petropoulos for both running an illegal domestic animal business and for animal cruelty offences. Mr and Mrs Petropoulos have previously been prosecuted by RSPCA Victoria on numerous occasions for selling kittens illegally and for animal cruelty.
At the contested hearing finalised in court today, Magistrate Rodney Crisp found the couple guilty on all charges (48 in total), fined them a cumulative total of $22,000 and ordered the payment of $100,914 in costs to the RSPCA.
Additionally, Mr and Mrs Petropoulos were both given a disqualification order under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTAA), banning them from being the owner or person in charge of any cats (including kittens) for a period of 10 years. This was accompanied by a monitoring order for the same period of 10 years to monitor compliance with the banning order. In addition, both were also given a banning order under the Domestic Animals Act (DAA), banning them from keeping or selling any cats (including kittens) for a period of 10 years, and are prohibited from conducting or working in any domestic animal business for that period.
RSPCA Victoria’s Major Investigations Team Leader, Lisa Calleja, said this had been a complex investigation that had required significant investment of RSPCA Victoria resources over the past two years.
“This case demonstrates we will not be deterred from pursuing animal cruelty offenders, no matter the complexity of the investigation required or the resources we need to dedicate,” Ms Calleja said.
“The strong result from the court today goes to show that if people choose to illegally sell animals, or engage in animal cruelty, RSPCA will continue to pursue those offenders and ensure that they are held to account.”
The kittens involved in this case were seized from the property of the accused and were found to be suffering from a range of ailments, including upper respiratory infections, eye and nasal discharge, diarrhoea, conjunctivitis and ear infections. These conditions are associated with overcrowded and unhygienic conditions. In this case, failure to provide appropriate housing, husbandry and veterinary treatment directly led to the illnesses, pain and suffering of the kittens.
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 DAA, in that they were not complying with the mandatory Code of Practice.
Both Mr and Mrs Petropoulos have been charged with various cruelty offences under POCTAA relating to alleged breaches of animal welfare laws, including:
9(1)b – confinement of an animal where the confinement causes, or is likely to cause, unreasonable pain or suffering
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 has also been charged with breaching a banning order for operating an illegal domestic animal business, while Mrs Petropoulos has been further charged with breaching a banning order for working in an illegal domestic animal business.
Public urged to report animal cruelty concerns
Ms Calleja said RSPCA Victoria relies on public informants to provide tip-offs in these types of cases.
“We are grateful to those members of the public who came forward with valuable information relating to the offences before court today and I urge members of the public who may have information about any individuals selling animals in public places to contact RSPCA Victoria directly.”
The sale of animals in public places such as parks, roadsides and car parks is illegal. Dogs and cats must be sold from either a registered domestic animal business, from a private residence or sold at a place where an animal sale permit is in place.
All reports made to RSPCA Victoria’s Major Investigations Team must be lodged via www.rspcavic.org/tip-off or by calling 9224 2222.