RSPCA collars owner

By KEN SAPWELL

A TWEED Heads pet owner faces fines of up to $16,500 after using two electric dog collars which he legally purchased from a Gold Coast pet shop.

Former television cameraman Gavin Price says he fitted the collars on the advice of a Tweed council ranger and had no idea they were illegal in NSW until he received a visit from an RSPCA inspector.

Mr Price, a self-proclaimed animal lover, says he was shocked when the inspector issued him with a summons to appear in Tweed Heads Court on three charges relating to the collars.

"There was no warning or caution - he just told me he was going to cite me and he read me my legal rights," said a devastated Mr Price yesterday.

"I bought two of the collars after seeing an advertisement for them in a local newspaper and I just assumed they were okay to use.

"There is nothing on the RSPCA's web site about the collars and I feel the organisation is being overly heavy handed given all the circumstances. I feel as if they are trying to make an example out of me."

Mr Price, who owns two dogs and two cats, says he obtained three of his animals from the RSPCA pound because he hates the idea of pets being put down.

"Unfortunately the dogs were barking a bit and a neighbour complained and I got a visit from a ranger who told me I would be fined if they didn't stop," Mr Price said.

"He told me I should use the electric collars and advised me against the citronella collars which he said were useless."

He said the RSPCA inspector visited him after the neighbour lodged another complaint and discovered the collars on his two dogs.

The inspector said yesterday that it was an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to sell, use or possess the battery-powered dog collars in NSW, although they were perfectly legal in Queensland.

He said the RSPCA had no choice but to summonse the man on two counts of use and one of possession, with each offence carrying a maximum $5,500 fine and or six months jail.

The inspector said he had also notified Tweed council that the collars were illegal in NSW.

The collars work by first emitting a warning 'buzz' when a dog barks, followed by a small electric shock if the dog doesn't stop.

The inspector said the RSPCA had found that use of the collars appeared to be more common in border towns like Tweed Heads.



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