A woman convicted of assaulting a council ranger who came to take away her “menacing” dog insists the animal was harmless – and that so is she.
The woman was found guilty of assault and obstruction at Wollongong Local Court on Friday, after multiple police and an animal control officer gave evidence of seeing her repeatedly hit a female ranger tasked with removing the dog.
Magistrate Michael Stoddart rejected the woman’s claims that it was her teenage daughter alone who escalated the family’s response to one of violence, when rangers came to remove the dog from a Koonawarra address in December, 2015.
The magistrate found the woman joined in the assault, repeatedly hitting the ranger to the head as she and a co-worker struggled to subdue the large, strong dog.
“I’m also satisfied that by her actions – standing in front of the gate with others, trying to take hold of the dog while it was on catch poles … she was guilty of obstructing [the officers],” he said.
“It was a very emotional day for all concerned and all this really could have been avoided.
“It wasn’t [the rangers’] decision. Someone else had made a decision.
“And when you think about it, it’s not an easy job for those officers."
The court heard the rangers were distressed in the aftermath, stopping to comfort one another once the dog had been contained. Both took time off work as a result of the clash and one had yet to return to work.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, immediately lodged an appeal. Outside court, she told the Mercury her family had repeatedly let the dog run free to avoid it being captured by rangers.
She claimed the dog, a Bull Arab cross Bull Mastiff, was falsely accused of killing a neighbour’s pets.
“He didn’t bite anyone,” she said. “He was protective of the home.”
“I had one neighbour complain a lot because he didn’t like the barking and the protectiveness of my dog.
“He had gotten out one day and gone into my neighbour’s front yard.
“I was there that day and saw the whole thing and my dog hadn’t come out with blood or anything like that.”
“I had a three-year-old [child] at the time and she used to crawl out of bed and go out the back and he‘d be licking her and playing with her and he was a lovely dog.”
A police officer gave evidence that the dog tried to bite him during the December visit. The animal became severely distressed, at one point losing consciousness and wetting itself. It was later euthenised.
The woman has also pleaded guilty to stealing the laptop of a Legal Aid solicitor, during an appearance at Port Kembla court. She will return to court on July 21, for sentencing.