Let me bury my dogs!

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How would you feel if you came home and found that your dogs had been killed by your neighbour, accused of something you know they didn't do?

On Friday June 29th 2018, Claire Gore discovered that her three year old pure-bred Maremma dog and three five-month old puppies that were due to be sold had been killed, allegedly for "ravaging and killing sheep".  Despite repeated pleas, Moira Shire (near Shepparton) representative Bob I'Anson refused to provide any details of the killings or to give details on the location or condition of her dogs.  Claire is seeking the truth of the matter and above all, seeking to retrieve the bodies of her dogs.  She is forced to pursue her case with the council. 

Whilst Claire has to justify the need to retrieve the bodies of her dogs and find out the circumstances of their deaths through Freedom of Information, the farmer has no need to explain whether his firearms were discharged near a road, near houses, what livestock was threatened and whether the dogs were killed humanely or why there was no other recourse such as contacting Claire. The council, through their representative Bob I'Anson, has formed a protective shield around the farmer and refuses to provide information in relation to the dogs deaths.

The dogs have never been proven to have harmed animals in the area before.  An accusation of being a nuisance against cattle was filed in the past but after a polite conversation and observation, it was discovered that the dogs were doing nothing more than barking near the cattle.  Through observation it soon became apparent that the animals did in fact co-exist peacefully.  More recently this year, a false accusation was made that the dogs had killed chickens but despite repeated attempts by Claire to prove that that was impossible (dogs were penned at the time of the chickens' death) Moira Council representative at the time, returned none of Claire’s calls.

The Maremma breed of dogs are not as well known in Australia for their protective natures, but are known world-wide by animal experts as a very special breed that is highly protective of sheep.  They are described as "perfect bodyguards for a range of livestock like laying hens, though most well known as sheep guardians". 

The dogs have been found in the vicinity of dead sheep in the past but this is also during a period of high fox activity in the area.  The Maremmas have never been seen attacking or harming livestock.

The Moira Shire Council states on its website: "Dead domestic animals are removed by Council’s staff from roads only, not private property.  Removal of dead or near dead livestock is the responsibility of the owner."  It is unknown why Claire, as the owner of the animals, was not permitted to remove her own animals. It is unclear whether the dogs were taken by the ranger and killed at a later time.  It is unknown why the council in this instance has contradicted its own by-laws by possibly removing Claire’s dogs allegedly from her neighbour's property. 

Claire is a relatively new resident to the shire and actually knows who most likely killed her dogs because this person threatened to use his firearms in the past when there was a disagreement about her dogs on his property. The farmer who threatened to shoot her dogs is well known; owns large tracts of land that physically surrounds Claire’s property and has many relatives living near the vicinity of Claire’s property.  A number of years ago, the same person shot the pet dogs of newly arrived residents from New Zealand who had Huntaway dogs.  These dogs like the Maremma are not well-known in Australia but are a breed specially designed to work with sheep not against them.  The local farmer disliked them, just like he disliked the Maremmas.  Interestingly, Claire lives close to  the same property as the former New Zealander residents.

It is likely that the stock losses experienced by the farmer caused by foxes, were blamed on the dogs of the new residents housed close to the farmer's land. From the breed characteristics, it is likely that the Maremmas were barking at foxes and investigating their scent trails rather than involved in direct attacks at any livestock.  It is likely that rather than using less violent steps of negotiation and discussion, or even having the ranger involved in catching the animals, the farmer decided to resolve his problems through the use of firearms.  It is likely that driven by ignorance and prejudice, the farmer executed the dogs at the earliest opportune moment and used his influence with local council to support his activities.

It is also likely that the killings were not timed in any moment of "ravaging and killing" but carried out just before the farmer made plans to travel overseas as the killings took place at the precise time when the farmer left the country.

The farmer never contacted Claire to inform her about her dogs being on the loose.  He never provided her with the opportunity to come home and retrieve them.  Instead he likely shot them, most likely at a time convenient to him, prior to his overseas trip.  A full explanation has not been provided.  There is no evidence of stock damage caused by the Maremmas. The local council has supported the killings of the four dogs and has acted on behalf of the farmer against Claire.

Please sign this petition and support Claire’s request to have immediate access to her dogs and for a full explanation of why and how her dogs were killed.

* Quotation from Bondi Vet.  https://bondivet.com/dogs/maremma-sheepdog

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