A BULLSBROOK woman, who the City of Swan found had 79 adult dogs on her property in September last year, has lost her application seeking costs against the city in the State Administrative Tribunal.
Back in January 2020 the city granted the Bullsbrook woman development approval allowing up to 20 dogs to be kept on the property and requiring the construction of fencing to contain the dogs.
A city officer inspected the Bullsbrook property on September 19, 2022 and found 79 adult dogs, as well as 30 to 40 puppies there.
The next day the city directed the woman to reduce the number of dogs to 20 and secure the fencing to contain all dogs within 60 days.
Failing that she would be committing an offence and liable to a penalty not exceeding $200,000 and a further daily penalty of $25,000 for each day the offence continued.
City officers seized and impounded most of the adult dogs on October 12 and seven days later the woman started proceedings in the tribunal seeking a review of the city’s decision to give the direction.
On 21 November 2022 the city withdrew the direction and advised the woman accordingly.
The number of dogs kept on the property was disputed by the woman, which the tribunal said was not relevant to her costs application.
In support of her application the woman said she had 60 days to comply with the direction (and therefore a legitimate expectation that in accordance with the direction she could reduce the number of dogs).
But within that 60-day period the city entered the property and frustrated the practical utility of any review proceeding by seizing the dogs.
Consequently, the city did not act in good faith because it should have known that its actions would subvert her right of review in the tribunal.
On August 29 this year, when making its decision about the application for costs, the tribunal said taking into account the city’s role under the Dog Act 1976 and the big number of dogs found at the woman’s property the city’s decision to seize and impound the dogs was not unreasonable.
The tribunal said as the city had withdrawn its direction there was no hearing or decision on the substantive application and for a number of reasons concluded the cost application should be dismissed and that each party should pay their own costs.
In conclusion the tribunal member said the costs claimed appeared excessive, particularly as the case was limited to a review of the direction and the matter had not been listed for a final hearing.