Dog collar attracts a $600 fine

DOG lover Gavin Price collapsed in court yesterday after receiving a $600 fine for using electric collars on his pets.

The 33-year-old former cameraman and now carer for his disabled wife, pleaded guilty to two charges of using the anti-bark collars and one charge of owning them.

An RSPCA inspector charged Price on October 27 last year.

Once the sentence was handed down, Price of Duffy Street, Tweed Heads, collapsed in the courtroom of Tweed Heads Local Court.

He was subsequently helped by relatives and friends out of the courtroom into the foyer.

After taking medication he was able to leave the court and an ambulance was not needed.

Earlier, his solicitor Bronwynne Luff said Price had been suffering from a condition since the charges were laid.

"He is very upset, he would never intend any cruelty to an animal," she said.

Price claimed he had spoken to a Tweed Shire ranger in 2002 who had suggested using the electric collars and Ms Luff also tendered two issues of the Tweed Mail which featured advertisements for the sale of the electric collars.

The collars use a watch-size battery which delivers a shock to the animal after it barks. Miss Luff said he had bought one from a Queensland pet store and another from overseas via the internet.

She also said that a District Court case in 1998 had allowed for authorised use of the devices upon the advice of a veterinarian.

Ms Luff said Price had since received information suggesting that the Australia Federal Police used the collars in NSW.

Magistrate Mr Jeff Linden said that surely Price would have known the collars were illegal if he couldn't buy them in NSW.

He also said that there were other options such as citronellabased products.

Mr Linden also made mention of an article in the Daily News on Saturday and he questioned the independence of some people quoted in the story.

He said he understood that Price had not acted with malevolence but that the law was clear.

Mr Linden ordered $600 of fines and court costs to be paid within 28 days and a $1 fine for the ownership of the collars.

After the case, RSPCA Inspector Alistair Hills said he thought the sentence was appropriate.

Last week the Daily News reported that Price faced fines up to $16,500 for the charges.

In that report a leading Gold Coast distributor of the collar suggested that Price was being used by the RSPCA as a scapegoat to bolster public support.

The Pet Industry Association of Australia said the NSW government is reviewing whether to lift a ban on the collars and allow their legal use in NSW.

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