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Woman hopes for miracle to save her innocent dog from being euthanized based on his appearance

Dhicon_thumb By DogHeirs Team | May 31, 2013 | Comments (19)

Kerser has only a few days to live after being judged a Pit Bull

Kerser was just 8 months old when he moved with his mom Jade Applebee to their new home in Mount Waverley, Australia, last December. But just a few days of arriving, Kerser was sentenced to be destroyed.

When Jade let her two dogs outside into her new fenced yard, she was unaware that the planks of the fence were rotten. Kerser and her other dog escaped and ended up in the neighbors' backyard.

Her neighbors called Animal Rescue, who took the dogs to the local RSPCA in Monash County. Kerser was immediately seized by the Monash City Council and judged to be a Pit Bull. As he was unregistered, which is required in Victoria by law, the Monash Council sentenced him to be put down in accordance with the state's breed specific laws. 

Australia's state of Victoria restricts Pit Bull terriers through Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). Pit Bulls need to be specially registered and their owners must adhere to strict rules or their dogs face euthanasia.

Jade immediately appealed this decision with Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in an effort to save Kerser's life. She said her reason for not registering Kerser earlier was that she had just moved into her new home two days prior to Kerser escaping. Apparently, she had requested the paperwork in order to register Kerser and received it the day before Kerser was seized.

Kerser is a victim of BSL in AustraliaJade also maintains that Kerser is not a Pit bull mix. When she purchased Kerser from a friend in April 2012, she believed him to be an American Staffordshire Terrier cross and not an American Pit Bull terrier as the Council alleges.

During the civil tribunal held earlier this month (May), the Monash Council heard from Lynne Harwood, an international dog judge, who was called as an expert witness. Harwood has experience judging American Pit Bull terriers in competitions in the United States. She told the Council that Kerser's muzzle was not broad enough or his skull large enough be be considered a Pit Bull. She also said that his overall body type and head did not fit the pit bull standard outlined in Victoria's BSL legislation.

When Harwood later viewed Kerser in person, she said that the council's animal officers had been mistaken in their measurements of Kerser.

But Harwood's qualifications came under question by a member of the Monash Council, according to Monash Weekly. The council member pointed out that Harwood did not hold a degree in animal science and was a gift shop proprietor. During the questioning, Harwood stated that she did not have an opinion regarding BSL and had appeared as an expert witness in several other cases. 

Regarding the question of Kerser's measurements, the Bless the Bully blog reported that:

Although the tape measurements indicated that Kerser was not a pit bull, the animal management officer simply stated that the dog can have "flaws," and the measurements don’t necessarily mean the dog is not a "pit bull."

At the end of the two day hearing, the Council's decision was upheld. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal deputy president Heather Lambrick said, "The overall impression of Kerser is one of compliance. He may not be a perfect example of a pit bull. However, such a dog probably does not exist."

Jade wanted to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, but on Wednesday, her request was rejected. Kerser is scheduled to be destroyed Monday June 3, 2013. Jade will get to spend 1 hour with him before he is put down.

Details to note about Victoria government's BSL legislation:

  • DNA is inadmissible as evidence.
  • A dog is determined to be a Pit Bull based on visual identification, i.e. the shape of the dog (the size and shape of his/her head, width of shoulders).
  • If a dog is deemed a Pit Bull, his/her behavioral history has no bearing on sparing a dog from euthanasia.
  • The Restricted Breed Dog laws are not municipal council laws but rather state law. The State Government introduced the Restricted Breed Dog laws in 2011. Local councils are not able to affect change of the law but must uphold the state law.
  • A number of local council politicians oppose the BSL. Monash Mayor Micaela Drieberg is quoted as saying, "The government brought in these laws with the best of intentions, but the laws are not working. We’re keen to see the state government refine the laws to address the issues that are coming up." Many are urging the state government to amend the legislation, especially following a recent Supreme Court decision that found the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in error when evaluating two other dogs as pit bulls.


What you can do to support Kerser:

Kerser is a victim of BSL in Australia



Update June 3, 2013:

According to the Free Kerser Facebook page, Jade's hopes for a miracle came true, "Kerser has a stay of execution. He is not being euthanized today."

Although Kerser will not be destroyed today, his fate is still unknown. The stay of execution is valid for 14 days. 

Woman hopes for miracle to save her innocent dog from being euthanized based on his appearance
Jade and Kerser during their visit today.


December 9, 2013

Jade has won a Supreme Court appeal which could possibly save Kerser's life. Kerser has now spent over a year with Monash Council after being seized from Jade in December of last year. Since then, Jade has been fighting in court to win Kerser's freedom and save his life.

Kerser was given a last-minute reprieve in June when Jade indicated she would be appealing the Supreme Court judge's decision. She went to the Supreme Court's common law division, judicial review and appeals list.

The case was heard before Justice Michael Croucher, who overturned the decision by Supreme Court associate judge Rita Zammit. Justice Croucher's decision will allow Jade to have Kerser's case heard again before the tribunal.

The judge called into question the tribunal's deputy president's use of her "overall impression" to determine Kerser was a dangerous breed.

The Age Victoria reported that Justice Croucher said, "In truth, her conclusion [the deputy president] – whether it be described as being based on her own observation or an impression – could be no more than speculation. The tribunal's ability to inform itself in any way it sees fit does not extend to engaging in guesswork."

The judge has ordered the tribunal hear Kerser's case again.

On Tuesday, Jade posted on the Free Kerser Facebook - "I have just won my appeal...!!!! Now we must go back to VCAT to win Kerser's freedom."

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View more articles in: Advocacy and Animal Welfare

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Comments on this Article

What a lousy legal group in the city where Jade lives. Even if the dog is shown not to be a pit bull, one of the government workers can just mix up words to still get the dog killed. That is not a dog friendly city. The officials there are worse than any real pit bull can be.
I suredo not want to own a dog in the town in this article. They can put a dog to death on just what they assume. No proof or facts are necessary. Just whatever they wish to say is good enough. They have lousy people entrusted with authority there.
Hey, dont forget what cause the whole story! It began with lack of responsability from the owner. They love their dogs (I hope) but probably they have no common sense. If you let your dog out in the yard, especially in a new one, unsuperviced and afterward wiines about "rotten planks". And they lie about the breed. Everyone can se what the the dog heriditet comes from. There you have the problem Australia, the people. Not the dog itself. (sorry for the gramma and spelling)
EVERYBODY CONTACT HER LOCAL COUNCIL HERE AND TELL THEM WHAT YOU THINK: http://www.monash.vic.gov.au/contact/request-service.htm
From: https://www.facebook.com/FreeKerser (posted) 04/Dec/2013 “Today marks the 1 year anniversary of your seizure and impoundment. During which time I have on 3 separate occasions... I can not begin to acknowledge all the hurt and anguish I have endured over the last 365 days. So many thoughts race through my mind as to what the future will hold for us; and as I lay sleeplessly awake tonight I can't help from thinking that I miss you even more than ever now I hope the future is bright and that you may live a long and happy life running around the backyard, giving goofy smiles and entertaining me with your crazy personality. I love you Kerser xo”
What's the update on this story? I really hope Kerser get to stay with his mom. Just look at that last picture, he looks happy and playful. I hope people can stop judging any dogs by its appearance or breed.
What is the latest update....14days stay period is over...Hope Kerser is going back home....
Common sense prevails. This is good news. Now is the time to keep the pressure on until her dog is released back to her. This was just an accident due to unforeseen circumstances, not irresponsible negligence.
Even if he is a pit bull, that is no reason to put him "down"! There are so many wonderful stories of pit bulls that are true blessings to people if they are allowed to be themselves. The only reason a pit bull would be vicious is if HUMANS taught it to be. I believe they should put their efforts towards catching the REAL criminals and punishing them. Maybe not "putting them down" but close ...
Has anybody an update re Kerser? I believe he was to be euthanized today!! I have sent numerous emails to both Victorian premier and mayor of Monash council without response. Also I did read somewhere that a protest rally was organized at one of the premiers engagements. I am hopeful that some good has come of all the support for this dog. These ridiculous one size fits all rules have to change.
I liked this article because we all need to stick up for these poor dogs that are being euthanized because of the way they look or their breed. It's disgusting!!
Any law that carries a sentence of death and does not allow for leniency in unforeseen human error is a trap for the innocent. Did the dog hurt anything? no. Was this human error due to unfamiliar surroundings? yes. Was the woman given any leniency to register her dogs being new to the area? no. Could this situation be solved without any danger to the public without killing the dog, like a muzzle order and a fixed fence? yes it's been done before. These laws need to be amended immediately to protect the innocent. Mercy !
Really sad, makes you remember how racism divided us. It's all in "a look"
Really sad, makes you remember how racism divided us. It's all in "a look"
Petition signed. Dear Lord, please stop murdering these poor dogs. We have a Staffie (we had two until January, when our boy left us for the Rainbow Bridge), neither would hurt a fly!! There is no such thing as a bad dog. This is classic "judging a book by its cover".
No. Put that dog on a plane.
These dog laws in Australia are getting ridiculous. Save this lovely dog from death. They have had expert opinion. And the woman needs to be given a chance having just moved into the area. What have we become. So fixated with ridiculous laws that common sense and decency are foreign. If this dog is non violent that is all that should matter. No matter what breed, it is the way they are brought up that determines their actions and not breed. I have seen peaceful, loving pitbulls and other dangerous breeds the same.
They request and expert witness, then when her view doesn't agree with theirs, they suddenly say she doesn't know what she's talking about. Sounds like legislative crap to me. Take the L out and you're left with a bunch of BS. And if one is not an Australian citizen....does the letter still have to be polite? ;-)
Petition signed! Let's show them the power of online community, dog supporters of the world!!! When she saw a set of parent "pitbulls" and their two puppies playing in an open yard across from the schoolyard supervised by their owners, one of the pre-K teachers with whom I used to work almost had a heart attack. Luckily, I was there to tell her the differences, "Those are Boxers!!!" The BSL is a pathetic excuse for the ignoramus to exert power over the innocents. It is so typical of a knee jerk reaction: "You look therefore you are." I doubt they are capable of differentiating a pencil from a pen.
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