Community refuses to give up hope after local homeless man’s dog impounded

Lottie Twyford 2 August 2021 159
Pauly New and his dog, Bruiser

Homeless man Pauly New and his “best mate” Bruiser at Erindale Shopping Centre, where he usually hangs out. Photo: Melissa McCormack.

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.


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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.


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“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.


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159 Responses to Community refuses to give up hope after local homeless man’s dog impounded
Tee Mannn Tee Mannn 1:39 pm 03 Aug 21

You all need to stop being emotional, and start applying some logic to this situation. It’s not one law for one dog owner and the rest must comply with another. If the dog had bitten a small child, whether provoked or otherwise, a majority of you lot would be up in arms as to why DAS hadn’t taken action to prevent it. Like any other authority, DAS have to deal with the circumstances presented according to law. Cause and result people, get real. The vast majority of the comments here are, like mine, from people who will never know both sides of the full story.

    Brianna Brianna 7:10 pm 03 Aug 21

    Thank you! This has been an over emotional situation and so many people jumping on the band wagon demanding the dog be given back. Very few people, myself included, know the entire situation. This needs to be investigated thoroughly by DAS and then a decision needs to be make. Until then, it is irrelevant how many signatures are on a petition, it’s not going to matter.

Lisa Woods Lisa Woods 8:50 pm 02 Aug 21

This is appalling give him back his best mate he is a very kind and gentle dog everyone I've seen Patting him or talking to Paul has had no issues

Sunny Jay Sunny Jay 3:47 pm 02 Aug 21

The dog needs to be under control at all times in public places where interaction with others can occur. On a leash is the best method. Simple!

Stephen Roberts Stephen Roberts 10:15 am 02 Aug 21

Give him back his dog, bruiser is no threat something very strange must of happened or whoever rang DAS may have an agenda

Serina Reid Serina Reid 11:12 am 01 Aug 21

Oh give the 🐕 Dog back wtf

Robyn Croucher Robyn Croucher 3:04 am 01 Aug 21

My four children and I were with Pauly and Bruiser on Friday 23rd of July.
It is easy to tell that Bruiser has not been mistreated by Pauly. I commented on how well he looks after Bruiser. Pauly’s spirits lifted as he spoke about how much Bruiser means to him. “He is my Baby, I would do anything, for him.” Pauly would have spoken about Bruiser all night if we had the time.
Bruiser is extremely! gentle with my four children, no other dog has ever been this gentle. There was absolute, kindness in Bruisers his eyes. The emotional and physical damage of keeping these two apart is going to be horrific. Let this gentle pair be, together. Bruiser is a kind dog that was provoked into a natural protecting instinct, which every dog has, especially when they Love somebody as much as Bruiser Loves Pauly.

planet42 planet42 11:43 pm 31 Jul 21

Bruiser should obviously go back to his owner. I offer to pay the registration for Bruiser on behalf of Pauly. RiotAct, you have my email, contact me if I can assist, thankyou.

Amanda Panayotou Amanda Panayotou 9:05 pm 31 Jul 21

Very lovely bloke and Bruiser is an amazing gentle dog that is always up for pats from my kids and I. I wish we could do more for them both.

Suzanne Jane Hoitink Suzanne Jane Hoitink 7:15 pm 31 Jul 21

This is so wrong. He needs to be with his mate.

Maddy Rowe Maddy Rowe 2:21 pm 31 Jul 21

My Kelpie and I had a real good chat and hung out with them both on a couple of occasions. Never ever had an issue whatsoever and even before that, always polite and would say hi without making you feel uncomfortable. This is absolutely heartbreaking. Anyone have links to the petition or advice where to send a supporting email ?

    Nada Krstin Nada Krstin 12:06 am 01 Aug 21

    Maddy Rowe link to petition is somewhere in this email thread - sorry not tech savvy to find/paste to you 🙁

    Pauly/Bruiser could do with all extra support

Patricia Cook Patricia Cook 11:33 am 31 Jul 21

Give him back Bruiser and if that is a problem, ask that he has him on a leash if that at least keeps him alive. This is very cruel.

Graham Hamilton Graham Hamilton 9:58 am 31 Jul 21

My wife works at woolies and I’ve seen this dog and owner many times and he and dog always friendly however they position themselves where every person walking into centre have to get very close and dog is never restrained so this was bound to happen eventually I hope he gets dog back though

    Bernadette Bryant Bernadette Bryant 3:25 pm 02 Aug 21

    I disagree! It is the other side of the story. I am very afraid of dogs! This dog was unrestrained and people don't seem to care about the people that this is troublesome for! Having said that, I was at Erindale the other day when the dog was impounded. As I went to pass I got a very big fright as the dog came towards me! Immediately, Paul grabbed the dog and was very reassuring to me which I greatly appreciated. However, unrestrained dogs cause problems for some people and owners (ironically not Paul) don't seem to care for the distress of people!

Eva Baguley Eva Baguley 9:16 am 31 Jul 21

We know Paul and Bruiser from when they were around Chisholm shops. My heart goes out to him.

Kristie Kearns Kristie Kearns 9:11 am 31 Jul 21

My little girl always pats Bruiser when we are walking past. I have nothing but good experiences with this dog.

Stephen Jones Stephen Jones 8:27 am 31 Jul 21

Steven James ....homeless?? Really!!

Lesley Barber Lesley Barber 8:04 am 31 Jul 21

I have chatted with Paul and patted his dog, this dog is completely harmless! And Paul looks after him absolutely beautifully. If it attacked someone, I can only assume it was provoked. Give him the dog back!

Billie McAlpine Billie McAlpine 6:51 am 31 Jul 21

I have seen and interacted with Bruiser and Paul and never witnessed anything but kindness. Pls let him have his dog back.

Judy Phillips Judy Phillips 3:40 am 31 Jul 21

The dog is harmless. I have stroked him many times

Mandy Jade Ross Mandy Jade Ross 1:08 am 31 Jul 21

This guy is one of the most genuine blokes out there along with his dog!

Sherbz Herbs Sherbz Herbs 12:58 am 31 Jul 21

This is so sad. GIVE HIM HIS DOG BACK. Paul and Bruiser are just the best. My son at age 8, we went to aldi tuggeranong once he wanted to buy him so biscuits. Which we did and my son gave them to him. My son was proud of himself for helping someone out. All the nasty comments need to be deleted.

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