2 August 2021

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

| Lottie Twyford
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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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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.

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.

Robyn Croucher3:04 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.

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.

Hopefully Pauly’s sister can keep communications open to let the public know how they can help. The dogs that I have seen with homeless people have all been very placid. They are great companions and extremely important for people like Pauly. Bruiser certainly does not look like a vicious dog and the early suggestion that he may be put down is totally uncalled for and very cruel.

Lottie can you please do a follow up to keep readers of Riotact updated.

‘she alleges Bruiser was deliberately provoked into attacking a passer-by ‘
A little more info on the attack would be helpful. I mean was it a bit of a loud bark, or was there a bite that may have caused injury, or perhaps some wayward scratches.

Capital Retro3:07 pm 30 Jul 21

It’s a big dog and when it barks it sounds menacing, otherwise it is very placid. I think I witnessed this “attack” (there were third parties involved) and it was inside the Erindale Centre where the regular homeless and their dogs are not allowed.

The problem will be DAS as they will take at least 12 months to conclude their investigation.

It’s all on FB on various threads on the Canberra Notice Board group.

A couple own a greyhound and it was allegedly attacked by Bruiser. In trying to get the attacking dog off, the owner was bitten. Other people with legitimate support dogs have been charged and menaced previously. it may be a good ‘people’ dog, but it appears to be questionable with other dogs.

The dog is rarely on a lead and entire. If those two things were addressed he’d have a greater chance of keeping him.

Nikkita West6:19 pm 30 Jul 21

So it was most likely not an intentional to bite the person? Doesn’t sound like it was that aggressive if the person still decided to go near it. I don’t think bruiser is aggressive towards other dogs, thats speculation that could lead to a dog loosing their life. “Charged” do you mean because one dog goes up to another dog? People who don’t want to socialise their dog don’t have to take it out in public. Paul can walk him off lead because he is a good dog, I have witnessed him approaching other dogs and interacting with them with nil issue at all and that is multiple times. He also goes back to Paul when called. Dogs only have a short life so it would be disappointing if DAS take a considerable amount of time to make a decision. However, DAS have returned and not even seized dogs for a lot worse then what has been mentioned here, so hopefully Bruiser gets to go back to Paul soon.

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