On Wednesday, in a major win for the RSPCA and anti puppy-farm activists Oscar’s Law, the Peace family of Victoria were convicted of criminal charges relating to animal cruelty.
In 2013, the RSPCA raided the house of John, Dean and Phyllis Peace.
235 dogs were found in their Pyramid Hill farm in northwest Victoria, including spaniels, poodles and many other breeds living in their own excrement and “too terrified to be near humans” according to Allie Jalbert of the RSPCA.
The initial case saw the Peace family handed down 240 charges of animal cruelty, with further criminal charges to follow after another 100 dogs were seized from the farm in January.
Pet shops that sold the family’s dogs have also been convicted of criminal charges. The owner of a Richmond shop was fined $8000 and made to pay $45,000 to the City of Yarra after being found guilty of dozens of charges under the Domestic Animal Act and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Bendigo magistrate David Faram said that the farm had “spiralled completely out of control, leaving animals in very traumatic circumstances.”
“Certainly the damage was of a magnitude and severity that is one of the worst cases that we’ve seen in Victoria” Jalbert shared in a statement.
The severity of the case was not lost on anyone, even the family’s lawyer, Jason Gullaci, who lambasted his own clients.
“There was deterioration and the business got beyond them. They should have realised that and shut it down. For whatever reason, they didn’t.”
The RSPCA has requested an order that will prevent the family from owning dogs for ten years, but the family has asked the magistrate to be allowed to keep one as a pet and two working dogs for the farm.
Debra Tranter, founder of Oscar’s Law said in response that it was “a real insult to everyone who worked on this case and to every pet owner in Victoria”.
“Certainly they haven’t shown remorse in our view.”
The magistrate indicated that no jail terms will be issued, with the family expected to face hefty fines. The sentence will be handed down next month.