Case Snapshot
Case ID: 19225
Classification: Unlawful Trapping/Hunting
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Wednesday, Feb 1, 2012

Disposition: Alleged

Alleged: Peter Avraam

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

Authorities raided a Rockbank property Wednesday morning where they suspect animals, including dogs and goats, were illegally slaughtered and sold for human consumption.

A 26-member joint task-force including Caroline Springs police, Police Search and Rescue, Melton detectives, RSPCA, the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE), Prime Safe and Melton Council arrived at the property about 7.30am.

As exclusively reported in the Melton Weekly, they found dozens of animals including goats, chickens, dogs, reptiles, horses, pigs, and an emu.

They also found a number of goat carcasses hanging on butcher's hooks and butchering equipment including saws, blow torches and knives.

Police seized around $200,000 of stolen machinery and cars from the premises, illegal firearms, ammunition and cannabis plants from a mobile home on the property.

The raid was organized after police received a statement from a witness who said they saw a dog being butchered and a blowtorch used to remove its hair before the carcass was hung on a hook.

It was also alleged a man who lives on the large property sold dog meat to around 100 customers for between $100-350.

The witness said the dogs were found through public notices that advertised the animals as free to a good home.

In a separate statement, another witness claimed they saw a man receive a bag of pork at the property. They said the man admitted to buying the meat on a weekly basis at a ''cheap price''.

No dog meat was found on the premises.

PrimeSafe, the Statutory Authority regulating the safety of meat, poultry and seafood across Victoria, scoured the property and inspected carcasses and equipment and seized and destroyed quantities of meat from a freezer.

PrimeSafe is yet to confirm the origin of the meat, but Chief Executive Brian Casey said the information obtained by its operations and licensing managers during the inspection is subject to further investigation.

The RSPCA checked around 30 dogs on the property, mostly caged and some chained to trees.

Several notices will be issued under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986.

An RSPCA spokeswomen said while most of the dogs scored ''good body condition'' ratings, poor animal husbandry practices existed.

''Dirty cages, with a huge build of feces and urine, with dirty water or lack of [was witnessed].'' the spokeswoman said.

A dog that was too tall for its cramped cage was moved to a larger shed following RSPCA advice.

An emaciated goat was put down and taken away for postmortem.

The RSPCA spokeswoman said other goats were in poor condition and lameness was a concern due to possible foot rot, abscesses or overgrown hooves.

Two restricted breed dogs were also found on the property.

A Melton Council spokesman said the owner has been issued with notices of declaration for the restricted breed dogs.

A 41-year-old Rockbank man has been charged and bailed on criminal offenses in relation to the raid.

Case Updates

An animal rights advocate courageously intervened last night to save a dog caged in squalor in Melbourne's west, after authorities failed to seize more than 20 dogs from a man whose property was raided on reports that he was slaughtering them for human consumption.

Debra Tranter, the founder of Oscar's Law campaign against puppy farms, last night drove to the Rockbank property and managed to wrangle one of the dogs from the owner, Peter Avraam, who has been charged with offences relating to handling stolen goods and drugs.

The female dog had been kept in a cage so small she could hardly stand, had a wound on her back and was so starved her spine and ribcage showed clearly through her skin.

Twenty-three dogs remain at the Leakes Road property, according to RSPCA reports, because even after authorities seized allegedly stolen goods, shotguns, drugs and animal meat on Wednesday, they left most of the animals. No dog meat was found on the premises in the raid.

''[The dogs] were licking my fingers through the wire,'' Ms Tranter said. ''It is the most evil place I have ever been.''

The state government passed laws last year which strengthened the penalties against animal abuse. But Ms Tranter said she had pleaded since March to police, Melton Shire Council, and the RSPCA to investigate, and it was only late last year she found a policewoman who would investigate.

Authorities have confirmed that they received reports from multiple and reliable sources that dogs were being illegally slaughtered for meat.

One witness told police they had seen a dog butchered and a blowtorch used to remove its hair before its carcass was hung on a hook.

The witness said dogs were found through ''free to good home'' advertisements. The RSPCA was told of the allegations last year, but left 24 dogs in Avraam's custody, with about 10 sheep and 100 goats.

Two restricted-breed pit bulls were seized by the council.

Ms Tranter said she spent yesterday asking the RSPCA to rescue the dogs but to no avail. A source close to the investigation said the number of agencies involved and difficulties in determining the jurisdiction of the allegations had delayed the raids.

RSPCA senior inspector Daniel Bode confirmed they had received complaints over the past year ''that we have attended to each time and we have investigated. We have worked with the owner on small little issues but nothing that warrants any offences under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.''

He said after this week's raids, which were attended at the request of police, the RSPCA had issued a directive asking Avraam to improve the dogs' housing conditions and provide clean water.

He said the RSPCA was investigating whether charges would now be laid and it was ''possible'' the animals would be seized if Avraam did not comply. ''We are now working with the owner to ensure animal welfare is made number one priority.''

A senior investigator at the Department of Sustainability and Environment, Samantha Moore, said Avraam had no wildlife licence.

All wildlife on the property, including 45 exotic animals, had been seized except for one emu. ''We haven't actually seized it yet given that they are not easy to catch,'' she said.

More charges are expected to be laid over acquisition of wildlife and unregistered dogs.

The chief executive of the state government authority responsible for meat safety, PrimeSafe, Brian Casey, said they found no evidence of dogs being killed on the property.

Avraam, 41, of Rockbank, was bailed after being charged with cultivation of cannabis, handling of stolen goods and ammunition offenses. He is understood to have told police he was an animal lover.
Source: - Feb 3, 2012
Update posted on Feb 2, 2012 - 9:57PM 


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