A Victorian couple have been banned from owning cats or kittens for a decade and ordered to repay the more than $140,000 (US$89,000) it cost the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) to investigate and prosecute them for animal cruelty.
Kon and Liudmila Petropoulos were caught selling kittens from their car boot after they’d already been banned from selling domestic animals.
It’s illegal for animals in Victoria to be sold in public places.
On top of that the cats and kittens they were selling were quite sick.
Nine kittens were seized from the couple because they were not being cared for and treated properly.
The pair was previously sentenced in Melbourne Magistrates Court to fines and costs of more than $120,000 (US$76,000), but they challenged that and were given a harsher penalty by County Court Judge Anne Hassan on Sep. 8.
Judge Hassan said the fact they appealed an overwhelming prosecution case without contesting a lot of the evidence indicated a complete lack of contrition and remorse for their offending.
Kon Petropolous was ordered to pay a $27,000 (US$17,000) fine while Liudmila was separately fined $25,000 (US$16,000).
Each was also ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid community work and undergo supervision, including monitoring.
The Ballarat couple have been banned from breeding, rearing, buying or selling cats or kittens, as well as owning cats or kittens, for a decade.
They must also surrender any they currently have within 14 days.
RSPCA chief inspector Michael Stagg said it was a great result.
“When members of the public buy animals in public places, what it means is they’re not able to inspect the conditions that those animals have been bred or kept in and they’re not able to see whether or not there’s any cruelty occurring,” Mr. Stagg told AAP.
“That’s what this couple have been caught doing on a number of occasions.”
They were also both ordered to pay $144,287 (US$92,000) to cover the costs of the prosecution.
Kon Petropoulos challenged the amount, saying he and his wife had spent $55,000 (US$35,000) on a barrister defending their case.
“I would say that is maybe a benchmark or a closer amount to what it should be or what it costs,” Mr. Petropoulos said.
But Mr. Stagg said it’s important the inspectorate can recoup costs, largely paid for by public donations.
Last financial year just $2.3 million (US$1.47 million) of the $9 million (US$5.75 million) it cost to run the inspectorate came from government funds, with the remainder covered by public donations and bequests in wills.