Monday, 17 December 2018
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Dog gone: SAT orders Kelmscott couple to remove family pet

They also complained the dog had defecated on the complex’s common areas.

Drexel remained in the unit and in May the strata council decided to take the issue to the SAT, who can enforce strata bylaws.

Ms Gehring pleaded with the tribunal to exercise its discretion and not order the removal of the dog because it was an ‘assistance dog’ for her partner who was suffering mental health issues and it had now, “become part of our family and well-being of my partner since January 2018”.

During the hearing Mr Oddy gave evidence that he suffered from depression and acknowledged issues also with anger management for which he is receiving treatment.

He said he had owned dogs in the past and felt that they had helped him with his mental health difficulties but conceded he knew about the bylaws but ignored them.

“I just thought, stuff it!” he told the tribunal.

He said he thought about the dog all the time and knowing the dog will be there when he gets home helped him.

The couple produced a letter from clinical psychologist Bill Douglas confirming the dog had a “significantly positive” effect on the management of his Mr Oddy’s mood and mental state.

“In my opinion this dog constitutes an ‘assistance animal’ and if it was removed would have an adverse effect on his mental health,” the letter read.

The tribunal accepted that the opinions in the report were genuinely held but it lost weight because the couple did no call the doctor to give evidence.

The couple told the tribunal it had planned to enrol Drexel in ‘assistance dog training’ but that had not happened yet.

Ms Gehring said Drexel was such a massive benefit to Mr Oddy that if it could not remain at the unit, she would sell it and they would move and live elsewhere.

The strata council challenged the claim that Drexel was an ‘assistance dog’ and claimed that he was “merely a family pet, albeit a much loved one”.

The council also called on eight of the complex’s residents to give evidence of the dog’s barking while no one was home at the couple’s unit.

The couple disputed that Drexel barked as much as the residents claimed and he was receiving obedience training to stop it.

Ms Gehring also proposed several steps to stop the dog from barking including a barking collar, taking Drexel to ‘doggie day care’, and giving assurances that there would always be somebody at home when the dog was there.

Ultimately though the couple’s arguments weren’t enough to convince the tribunal that the dog was an assistance dog and that they could stop it from barking.

“The view of the tribunal, albeit with some sympathy to Mr Oddy given his personal circumstance, is that, in this instance, the right of the other occupants of the complex to reasonable quiet enjoyment of their lots and the common property in the complex takes precedence over his right to own a dog and his desire to keep it at Unit 14,” it said.

The couple were ordered to remove the dog from the premises within 28 days.

Hamish Hastie is a Fairfax Media business reporter writing from the WAtoday offices in Perth. He was raised in Armadale in Perth’s south east and covered the area for four years at the Examiner Newspaper before a stretch writing for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA’s business magazines.


The Bark Box

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