Couple fined over animal cruelty charges

(Rebecca Hosking) 216931_02

Ash Bolt

A former Geelong businessman and his wife have been ordered to pay more than $120,000 after being found guilty of 48 animal cruelty charges in the Melbourne Magistrates Court.

Kon and Liudmila Petropoulos were last week found guilty after RSPCA Victoria prosecuted the couple with running an illegal domestic animal business.

At the contested hearing finalised on Thursday, May 12, Magistrate Rodney Crisp found the couple guilty of all 48 charges, fined them $22,000 and ordered them to pay $100,914 in costs to the RSPCA.

The couple was also banned from owning any cats for the next 10 years.

RSPCA Victoria major investigations team leader Lisa Calleja said it had been a complex investigation that required significant investment of RSPCA Victoria resources over the past two years.

“This case demonstrates we will not be deterred from pursuing animal cruelty offenders, no matter the complexity of the investigation required or the resources we need to dedicate,” she said.

“The strong result from the court [last week] goes to show that if people choose to illegally sell animals, or engage in animal cruelty, RSPCA will continue to pursue those offenders and ensure that they are held to account.”

The couple had previously been prosecuted for animal cruelty and operating an illegal domestic animal business in March 2020 and just four months later, RSPCA Victoria executed two warrants at their Ballarat home following public tip-offs the business was still operating.

The major investigations team seized nine kittens, which were found to be suffering from illnesses including upper respiratory infections, eye and nasal discharge, diarrhoea, conjunctivitis and ear infections,

RSPCA said the couple had failed to provide appropriate housing, husbandry and veterinary treatment, which led to the illnesses, pain and suffering of the kittens.

“We are grateful to those members of the public who came forward with valuable information … and I urge members of the public who may have information about any individuals selling animals in public places to contact RSPCA Victoria directly,” Ms Calleja said.

The sale of animals in public places such as parks, roadsides and car parks is illegal.

Dogs and cats must be sold from either a registered domestic animal business, from a private residence or sold at a place where an animal sale permit is in place.

All reports made to RSPCA Victoria must be lodged at or by calling 9224 2222.