Council collars puppy farmer

AN unregistered Tooradin puppy farmer has escaped a criminal conviction despite 115 charges being brought against him by the City of Casey.
Derul Van Hollis, and his business Demfield, pleaded guilty to the charges in the Dandenong Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.
Following a year-long investigation by the council, Mr Van Hollis’s business was found guilty of operating a domestic animal business without a permit, not complying with the code of practice for a domestic animal business, having an excessive number of dogs and a further 112 counts of having unregistered dogs on his property.
While Mr Van Hollis pled guilty to the charges, the magistrate did not convict him or award any penalties against him.
He was, however, placed on a good behaviour bond for 12 months.
Demfield was found guilty and convicted and ordered to pay $11,500 in fines and $6700 towards the council’s costs.
City of Casey Mayor Amanda Stapledon said the council was disappointed with the outcome of the ruling.
“The penalties don’t reflect the sentiment of the community,” she said.
Mr Van Hollis said he accepted the decision.
“I’m pleased I was vindicated of any animal cruelty charges,” he said.
“The court took away any charge of animal cruelty whatsoever, which is a relief,” he said.
“I love my dogs and have never been cruel to any animal in my life.”
Mr Van Hollis said he accepted that he had to be fined.
“The charges they had me on were that I didn’t pay my dogs’ registrations,” he said.
“That’s an offence so I accept that.
“But some of the other charges were ludicrous in respect to what I do.
“I’m happy with the decision.”
The court allowed Mr Van Hollis to keep his dogs.
An amendment to the Domestic Animals Act 1994 (Puppy Farm Enforcement and Other Matters) governing unregistered domestic animal businesses came into force on 1 January last year.
Cr Stapledon said the amendment has increased penalties for various offences under the act concerning non-compliant domestic animal businesses to ensure the punishment reflects the severity of the crime.
“In this instance, council moved quickly to prosecute Mr Van Hollis and his business under the Act for his alleged disregard of the regulations in relation to the keeping of these animals,” she said.
“Council is committed to the protection of our four-legged citizens and regularly investigates any breaches of the legislation to ensure owners treat animals with the care and respect they deserve.”