A Canberra homeless man has been left traumatised and unable to sleep after his dog was impounded by Domestic Animal Services (DAS).
Pauly New and his dog, Bruiser, have become a popular local fixture at Erindale Shopping Centre if the outpouring of community support on Facebook following the impounding is anything to go by.
According to Pauly, the pair are closer than anyone else in the world. Since he got Bruiser six-and-a-half years ago, they haven’t spent a night apart from one another, and he says it was his dog who rescued him and not the other way around.
“I was suicidal and he brought me out of that horrible period,” says Pauly.
“Being without him has been really hard and it’s bringing back a lot of the dark thoughts from back then.”
Pauly’s sister, Melissa McCormack, says recent events have left her brother completely traumatised and she alleges Bruiser was deliberately provoked into attacking a passer-by on Monday, 26 July.
But she says since the incident Pauly has received incredible “overwhelming support from the community” after Facebook posts were widely circulated to call attention to his situation.
A Facebook campaign quickly gathered steam, with locals encouraged to email DAS to try to stop the animal being put down. Online comments have been critical of the situation, with one user slamming it as “absolutely disgusting”, and many others sharing their stories about meeting Pauly and the yarns they have often shared with him.
Ammie Barrett, who runs Homeless Care Packs, says she and many members of the local community are distraught about Pauly’s dog having been taken away and impounded.
She has got to know Pauly during the past few months and says he and Bruiser have pretty much become a constant fixture in the Erindale area. Many people have signed Pauly’s petition book at Erindale Shopping Centre to help him get back Bruiser.
Around 300 people have signed their name and given their phone number to show their support on the petition.
Melissa says Pauly has been homeless for around 10 years, and that he and his family were unaware they should have had Bruiser registered as a support animal.
“Bruiser is his best mate,” chokes Melissa. “He’s is pretty much everything to him and it’s hard for me to put it into words.
“Pauly has had Bruiser since he was a pup, and he is really and truly a well looked-after dog.”
Since Bruiser was impounded, Melissa says Pauly has not been sleeping.
Pauly suffers from a complex range of mental health issues, including ADHD and he suffered greatly after his mum developed early onset dementia. Melissa says Pauly’s mental health situation makes him unable to live as most people do.
“He’s actually lucky to hold onto a wallet, and while I previously got him ACT Housing, it didn’t work well for him,” she says.
“Every time ACT Housing would come around to check on him and the house, he’d be out and about and sometimes he struggled to do things such as keeping on the electricity on.”
An ACT Government spokesperson said that while they understand it to be a stressful situation for everyone involved, their primary concern is to ensure the public safety of the Canberra community.
The spokesperson confirmed that reports of an attack involving the dog are currently under investigation, which they hope to complete within the next week. As part of this, a behavioural assessment of the dog will also be completed.
They said the ACT Government will be unable to provide further comment until the investigation is finalised.
Pauly was allowed to spend a bit of time with Bruiser on Wednesday, 28 July, and he hopes the investigation will be completed quickly because he is struggling to sleep and get by without his best mate.
A spokesperson for ACT Policing said the matter is solely with Domestic Animal Services.