Dog owner fights to get Bruiser off dangerous list after scuffle with police

Dog owner fights to get Bruiser off dangerous list after scuffle with police

December 12, 2021

A man involved in a scuffle with two off-duty police officers is fighting for his pet to be taken off a Victorian council’s dangerous dog list, arguing Bruiser the Staffordshire cross was instinctively protecting her owners when she attacked.

Bruiser bit both officers after her owner Simon Jack and his cousin Bryce Dunn crashed their car into a fence in Traralgon, 160 kilometres east of Melbourne, in the early hours of New Year’s Day 2019.

Bruiser the Staffordshire-cross.

The two off-duty police, a man and a woman, emerged from their homes and attempted to prevent Mr Jack and Mr Dunn from driving the car away.

A fracas broke out, resulting in Mr Dunn punching the male officer in the back of the head and knocking him to the kerb.

Bruiser ran at the officer and lunged at his face, biting him on the shoulder then chest. The black and white Staffordshire-cross later bit the female officer on the arm, after police called to the scene used capsicum spray to restrain the dog.

La Trobe City Council declared Bruiser a dangerous dog on the basis she caused serious injury to a person by biting or attacking them.

Dogs deemed dangerous must wear a collar identifying them as a dangerous dog and be muzzled, on a leash and handled by an adult over 18 when in public. Their owners must also place a special warning sign at the entrance to their home.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard Mr Dunn punched the policeman while he pinned Mr Jack face-down on the ground, allegedly because he thought Mr Jack wanted to drive away. The dog owner told the policeman to “f— off” and tried to break his hold.

The policeman backed away after Bruiser bit his shoulder, yet Mr Dunn and Bruiser continued to move towards him.

The officer asked Mr Dunn to call off the dog and identified himself as a police officer for a second time, to which Mr Dunn responded: “I don’t care who you are, you c—. What are you going to do about it?”

Noticing Bruiser acting aggressively towards him and the policewoman as she called for back-up, the policeman kicked at the dog.

A preliminary police brief said Mr Dunn and Mr Jack were drunk and/or drug-affected at the time.

As the on-duty police arrested Mr Jack, Bruiser jumped at the off-duty policeman again, tearing his shirt.

Police used capsicum spray to deter Bruiser, but she ran at the off-duty policewoman and bit her on the arm while she helped hold Mr Jack on the ground. Mr Dunn had fled the scene.

The off-duty policeman’s injuries included a wound on his left shoulder, a bruised face, impaired vision and a fractured hand.

Bruiser’s size and weight is unclear. However, a purebred female Staffordshire bull terrier normally weighs up to 15 kilograms.

A council cannot place a dog on its dangerous list for attacking someone if the incident occurred while its owner or someone known to it was under attack, which lawyers representing Mr Jack argued was what occurred.

They said the incident unfolded as a rapid succession of events and Mr Jack was under attack at all points.

However, lawyers for La Trobe City Council said the off-duty police were engaged in “lawful bodily contact” as they were arresting Mr Jack and Mr Dunn, and it did not constitute an attack.

In her preliminary findings, VCAT senior member Anna Dea said it was possible to conclude that Bruiser reacted in a protective manner because she observed Mr Jack being pulled from the car and restrained.

That would justify most of Bruiser’s attacks, Ms Dea said, but not the one in which she injured the policeman’s hand because Mr Dunn had been given the chance to call her off.

“Even if I were to assume Mr Bryce Dunn was a person known to Bruiser … there are no facts presently before me to indicate he was being attacked by Officer A,” Ms Dea said.

Mr Jack must decide by January 14 whether he intends to continue with his case.

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