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Possum beater on video not convicted

Tammy Ven Dange 26 February 2015 48

Baby possum cared for by RSPCA ACT

I am outraged by the results of one of our most recent animal cruelty cases. As published in The Canberra Times today, Lyons resident Domaneco Zizi escaped conviction after attacking a possum with a pole and eventually killing it.

In this case, our RSPCA ACT inspectors received actual video footage of the attack.

Furthermore, although we were unable to locate the body, Mr. Zizi confessed to killing the possum in the inspector interview and later pleaded guilty in court.

Despite this evidence, the magistrate said that while the incident was “unpleasant,” the court had seen no evidence of harm or injury caused to the possum.

I have no idea what further evidence our inspectors would have had to collect to result in a conviction. RSPCA ACT spends a ridiculous amount of time and money responding to complaints, investigating matters and preparing documents to be submitted to court to prosecute. We do not prosecute every valid complaint, we only prosecute those that we feel we can win and that would be in the public interest to do so.

I would personally like to ask the magistrate if her decision would have been different had the possum been a dog or a cat instead.

The Animal Welfare Act does not discriminate. It does not say that a person over the age of 80 is exempt from being a criminal. It does not say that the value of one animal life is higher than another. And regardless of whether or not people like possums as much as puppies, all animals deserve a humane death – not one that involves a lure, an absolute beating and then a final blow.

All of us at RSPCA ACT feel completely defeated by this case. The magistrate’s decision signals to every other person that despite being a protected species, the life of a possum doesn’t matter. If you want to use them as piñatas, apparently we can’t stop you!

I can only hope that the Canberra community is as outraged as we are.

Tammy Ven Dange is CEO of RSPCA ACT. 


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Possum beater on video not convicted
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OneWorld 10:21 pm 13 Mar 15

I feel so ashamed to be part of the human race sometimes Firstly, to all those people who commented saying ” wildlife come in and cause damage to our homes” well what about all the trees and such that the wildlife lived in that got ripped up to build your house? Why is it all right for us to destroy their homes but they can’t damage ours? They were there first. We humans are in plague proportions. Secondly, if that possum was a person you would all be saying “he can’t do that, that’s assault”. I invite the magistrate to come see me and I shall beat her with a pole and we’ll see what harm it does not cause her!. A good proportion of the human race needs to stop being so self centered and narcissistic, we humans don’t own this planet, we share it with all life!!!

Queanbeyanite 9:13 pm 05 Mar 15

He should have put up a Powerful Owl nesting box.

GardeningGirl 10:00 pm 02 Mar 15

Mysteryman said :

Tammy Ven Dange said :

Mysteryman said :

I don’t think the video shows cruelty. I think it shows stupidity. The animal involved was fine, as the magistrate noted.

The possum was actually killed by this man, and he admitted it during the inspector’s interview. What makes you think he was “fine?”

“Magistrate Beth Campbell described the incident as “unpleasant conduct”, but said the court had seen no evidence of harm or injury caused to the possum.”

That’s what. There is no mention anywhere in the Canberra Times article of the possum being killed.

MonarchRepublic said :

Let us not forget, per the Canberra Times article:

“The ACT Magistrates Court heard on Wednesday that Mr Zizi had previously fed the possum in his backyard, but then attacked it with a pole when it attempted to enter the roof cavity of his Woden home by crawling along a power cable.”

So he fed the possum, encouraging it into his backyard, then cracked the Sh!ts when it naturally decided to check out his roof?? No excuse.

I’m outraged but I found this story confusing. The implication in the Canberra Times was that the possum might have managed to get away. The video won’t play (has it been removed now?) so I can’t see that. Thank you for providing a more detailed explanation here.

If it was the actions of a doddery old man panicking at the perceived threat to his property and the animal got away then I might see leniency as appropriate.

But it reads as if the man was initially encouraging the possum’s presence on his property, and the judge chose to see the attack as unpleasant rather than harmful?

There just seems so much wrong with this.

Lolliegoth 8:21 pm 02 Mar 15

Alexandra Craig said :

Maya123 said :

Mixed feelings about this. I don’t like the possum being hit, but they are in plague proportions and can do a lot of damage. Is it correct that the possum was getting in the man’s house ceiling cavity? I’ve seen the ceiling damage a possum has done when after wetting a spot on the ceiling, eventually it fell through that spot, where it then panicked, ran up the highest point and sh** all over it. The highest point was a projector, and I was called to deal with a sh** on and in projector.

Yeah, but if there’s a possum problem – you call someone to remove it from your ceiling and you call someone else to block up all the holes in your ceiling. Like you said, they’re in plague like proportions so surely it’s easier to solve the problem up front by sorting the ceiling out rather than murdering every possum that turns up at your house. No cruelty involved by having the possum humanely removed either.

Affirmative Action Man said :

I’m not outraged at all. I think the magistrate demonstrated common sense & I’m sure lots of people will agree with him.

So – agree if you have Possums in the roof you can have them removed. I have five crawling over my roof and don’t get sleep.I don’t agree with what he did but try sleeping when you have possums running all over the roof, down the trees, destroying the gardens. When I am tired in the morning and crash my car due to lack of sleep I am to blame? How about you actually learn when and why they can be removed – then live with them. I am sure if you have to clean their feaces and urine daily you may have a different opinion.

Hamlet201 7:58 pm 02 Mar 15

Maya123 said :

Mixed feelings about this. I don’t like the possum being hit, but they are in plague proportions and can do a lot of damage. Is it correct that the possum was getting in the man’s house ceiling cavity? I’ve seen the ceiling damage a possum has done when after wetting a spot on the ceiling, eventually it fell through that spot, where it then panicked, ran up the highest point and sh** all over it. The highest point was a projector, and I was called to deal with a sh** on and in projector.

That is NO excuse for torturing it – there are professional ways of dealing with that type of thing

rubaiyat 4:27 am 01 Mar 15

I have a lot more respect for the people who have to do the the often unpleasant duties of Animal Welfare than I do the chair squatting asshats in the ACT’s legal system.

I got to see them at “work” recently when my teenage son was up for a minor traffic offence (which he should have just paid the fine, it was his fault). You want to just scream at this lot with their late arrivals at court, foot dragging, all the time in the world delays and adjournments to another date, “Get on with and just make a decision!”

The root cause of this is, they can’t be sacked and are paid by the hour. And they have been carrying on like this since forever.

knuckles 10:13 pm 28 Feb 15

Tammy Ven Dange said :

As I have said earlier, it doesn’t matter if someone prefers puppies over possums – no animal deserves to die that way.

What about poisoning? Is it OK to poison a possum?

I can legally buy rat/mice poison at the local shops and kill as many of them as I want to, even native species.
They are also small furry creatures.

I don’t really see the difference between killing rats/mice who are causing damage to your house and a possum who is doing the same thing.

mr_wowtrousers 12:40 pm 28 Feb 15

Tammy Ven Dange said :

Basically, the Magistrate wanted a vet report on the body as proof. We couldn’t provide it . . .

Yeah, courts generally like to see stuff like that. Not that I condone or agree with his actions, as they have been described, but if we are going to head down the road of “Well, we saw X, so that person should be convicted” with no further evidence, then that is a very dark place to tread.

Pragmatix 4:23 am 28 Feb 15

Tammy Ven Dange said :

Basically, the Magistrate wanted a vet report on the body as proof. We couldn’t provide it because the man had already put it in the bin, and it was already taken away to the tip. Despite this admission on record, the magistrate ignored the evidence. She also ignored his guilty plea because of his “age” and the lack of a criminal past.

As I have said earlier, it doesn’t matter if someone prefers puppies over possums – no animal deserves to die that way.

Agreed.

Tooks 5:43 pm 27 Feb 15

Tammy Ven Dange said :

Basically, the Magistrate wanted a vet report on the body as proof. We couldn’t provide it because the man had already put it in the bin, and it was already taken away to the tip. Despite this admission on record, the magistrate ignored the evidence. She also ignored his guilty plea because of his “age” and the lack of a criminal past.

As I have said earlier, it doesn’t matter if someone prefers puppies over possums – no animal deserves to die that way.

She didn’t ignore his guilty plea – he pleaded guilty. As for his admissions, perhaps they weren’t admissible for some reason. And if we were talking about a really large rat rather than a cute possum, how much outrage would that cause in the community?

Tammy Ven Dange 5:03 pm 27 Feb 15

Basically, the Magistrate wanted a vet report on the body as proof. We couldn’t provide it because the man had already put it in the bin, and it was already taken away to the tip. Despite this admission on record, the magistrate ignored the evidence. She also ignored his guilty plea because of his “age” and the lack of a criminal past.

As I have said earlier, it doesn’t matter if someone prefers puppies over possums – no animal deserves to die that way.

information 4:41 pm 27 Feb 15

Acton said :

We all have a right to live in our house without it being damaged by wildlife.

Do we also have a right to have houses not damaged by bushfire? It is called the environment we live in and we must design our houses to cope with the environment and not expect the environment to change.

Acton said :

Possums in houses are vermin just like rats and mice and homeowners should be allowed to prevent their entry or remove them

Sure, everyone should prevent entry to their house by possums. This just means maintaining your house to ensure their are no points of entry (which a house should not have). Anyone with a possum in their roof just needs to get it out and remove the point of entry. You can remove animals indefinitely, however, if you leave a hole there it or another will come back.

Acton said :

strategic move and a compromise policy would be to allow home owners to trap and relocate possums to bushland.

This sounds like a good move on paper, but equates to death by starvation for the possum. Possums are territorial, so if you move a possum out of its home range it will be chased off by the owners of the territory you put it in. Unless by pure luck it stumbles upon a recently vacated territory, it will starve to death. This is why possum catchers must legally release the caught possum within a set distance of where it was retrieved from.

Its quite simple, the offenders actions were intolerable and excusing them just makes their actions acceptable. Rather then just letting them off, the magistrate should have assigned some level of community service to support RSPCA or animals/wildlife in general. This could easily take into account peoples points about situation while maintaining both the law and reinforcing expectations about accountability for ones actions.

MonarchRepublic 4:13 pm 27 Feb 15

Let us not forget, per the Canberra Times article:

“The ACT Magistrates Court heard on Wednesday that Mr Zizi had previously fed the possum in his backyard, but then attacked it with a pole when it attempted to enter the roof cavity of his Woden home by crawling along a power cable.”

So he fed the possum, encouraging it into his backyard, then cracked the Sh!ts when it naturally decided to check out his roof?? No excuse.

MERC600 3:09 pm 27 Feb 15

Tammy Ven Dange said :

Mysteryman said :

I don’t think the video shows cruelty. I think it shows stupidity. The animal involved was fine, as the magistrate noted.

The possum was actually killed by this man, and he admitted it during the inspector’s interview. What makes you think he was “fine?”

I wonder why the Magistrate did not accept the animal was killed as per your Inspector report to you. Were photos taken to present to the court ?

Mysteryman 2:50 pm 27 Feb 15

Alexandra Craig said :

Grimm said :

Alexandra Craig said :

La_Tour_Maubourg said :

Solidarity said :

No outrage here.

I don’t think he murders cats and dogs for fun. He’s an old man protecting his crops and his house. I bet he used the word bastard a lot.

He’s from a generation where you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, and that does have a lot to do with the sentencing. It’s all about context. My Oma used to pluck chickens in the backyard, as that was what was done – Going to convict her too?

Domaneco’s seen a lot more of life and lived through some experiences that you lot would never be able to cope with. Have some respect for the way the world was before judging him for his actions.

Agree 100%. No outrage whatsoever. Possum would’ve been a repeat offender and the perfect opportunity arose to arrest it from entering the roof cavity. Typical old European generation thing to do.

No. Call a possum removal service. It’s not that hard.

You are missing the point entirely.
I’d be surprised if he knew there was such thing as a “Possum removal service”. He is from a generation where this was the done thing. You didn’t just call somebody else to solve your problems. Where animal cruelty was REAL malicious animal cruelty, whereas today apparently even hunting constitutes animal cruelty to a lot of people.

Like I said before, I don’t care what your previous experiences were or even what was the “done thing” – that doesn’t make it acceptable. Some people are from a culture where beating their wives is the “done thing”, does that make it okay to do? No, of course not. Why are we so flippant when it comes to animal cruelty? As I said earlier, if it was your cat that got into his roof or your dog that escaped and ripped through his garden, and he took the same measures as he did with the possum would you have the same view of ‘oh but that’s what his generation did’?

The real issue here is differing definitions of animal cruelty. You want everyone to accept your definition of animal cruelty, but they don’t. The magistrate clearly doesn’t, either, since she witnessed the same video as you and decided there was no evidence of animal cruelty.

Nobody is suggestion that cruelty is ok. What they are saying is that the video doesn’t depict what they would consider to be cruelty. Are you or the RSPCA somehow better qualified to decide for everyone else what’s cruel and what’s not? I’d suggest no.

Steven Bailey 2:44 pm 27 Feb 15

aussie2 said :

Our experience of the ACAT and Magistrates Court to date leaves me speechless! You can all complain on RIOT ACT but unless you harness all your complaints and make it an election issue, BAU-business as usual. I am ex Neighborhood watch and now run a Residents Association. I am prepared to sponsor a move to bring the wider community together, but only IF YOU COME ON BOARD. I choose my battles carefully. Up to you now. If you have had experience of failure for the courts to do the right thing, let me know through this site with some contact details.

I would be happy to come on board with you. You can contact me via email (sjbailey7 AT gmail.com). Animal cruelty will be an issue in the 2016 election.

Acton 1:58 pm 27 Feb 15

Of course animal cruelty should never be tolerated and penalties should be severe. But this is not a simple black and white issue. We have to use common sense.
We all have a right to live in our house without it being damaged by wildlife.
Possums belong in trees, not in our roof cavities, where they create noise, damage, stench and filth.
Possums in houses are vermin just like rats and mice and homeowners should be allowed to prevent their entry or remove them, just like we can do with rats and mice.
If the RSPCA wants to discourage further animal cruelty cases towards possums my suggestion is that a more strategic move and a compromise policy would be to allow home owners to trap and relocate possums to bushland.
Trapped possums could even be brought to the RSPCA to organise their release in appropriate areas.
Yes, professional possum removers are available but they are expensive and unnecessary if you can do it yourself. We all have tight budgets and most people have better things to spend money on.
I know trapping and removing is only a temporary measure before another possum moves into the territory, but it is a common-sense alternative to people bludgeoning the poor creatures to death and the RSPCA then pursuing expensive court cases and using up valuable funds.
A common sense solution is always preferable to animal cruelty, court cases, public shaming and community members abusing each another, so I hope the RSPCA can give this suggestion some consideration.

chewy14 1:38 pm 27 Feb 15

Alexandra Craig said :

Grimm said :

Alexandra Craig said :

La_Tour_Maubourg said :

Solidarity said :

No outrage here.

I don’t think he murders cats and dogs for fun. He’s an old man protecting his crops and his house. I bet he used the word bastard a lot.

He’s from a generation where you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, and that does have a lot to do with the sentencing. It’s all about context. My Oma used to pluck chickens in the backyard, as that was what was done – Going to convict her too?

Domaneco’s seen a lot more of life and lived through some experiences that you lot would never be able to cope with. Have some respect for the way the world was before judging him for his actions.

Agree 100%. No outrage whatsoever. Possum would’ve been a repeat offender and the perfect opportunity arose to arrest it from entering the roof cavity. Typical old European generation thing to do.

No. Call a possum removal service. It’s not that hard.

You are missing the point entirely.
I’d be surprised if he knew there was such thing as a “Possum removal service”. He is from a generation where this was the done thing. You didn’t just call somebody else to solve your problems. Where animal cruelty was REAL malicious animal cruelty, whereas today apparently even hunting constitutes animal cruelty to a lot of people.

Like I said before, I don’t care what your previous experiences were or even what was the “done thing” – that doesn’t make it acceptable. Some people are from a culture where beating their wives is the “done thing”, does that make it okay to do? No, of course not. Why are we so flippant when it comes to animal cruelty? As I said earlier, if it was your cat that got into his roof or your dog that escaped and ripped through his garden, and he took the same measures as he did with the possum would you have the same view of ‘oh but that’s what his generation did’?

I fully agree with this.

But I would also ask, what would you like to have happened to this man as punishment?

We have daily violent assaults of humans in this town where the offender gets let off or gets multiple chances to reform their criminal ways. In the grand scheme of judicial stupidity, this is at the lower level.

Alexandra Craig 12:36 pm 27 Feb 15

Grimm said :

Alexandra Craig said :

La_Tour_Maubourg said :

Solidarity said :

No outrage here.

I don’t think he murders cats and dogs for fun. He’s an old man protecting his crops and his house. I bet he used the word bastard a lot.

He’s from a generation where you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, and that does have a lot to do with the sentencing. It’s all about context. My Oma used to pluck chickens in the backyard, as that was what was done – Going to convict her too?

Domaneco’s seen a lot more of life and lived through some experiences that you lot would never be able to cope with. Have some respect for the way the world was before judging him for his actions.

Agree 100%. No outrage whatsoever. Possum would’ve been a repeat offender and the perfect opportunity arose to arrest it from entering the roof cavity. Typical old European generation thing to do.

No. Call a possum removal service. It’s not that hard.

You are missing the point entirely.
I’d be surprised if he knew there was such thing as a “Possum removal service”. He is from a generation where this was the done thing. You didn’t just call somebody else to solve your problems. Where animal cruelty was REAL malicious animal cruelty, whereas today apparently even hunting constitutes animal cruelty to a lot of people.

Like I said before, I don’t care what your previous experiences were or even what was the “done thing” – that doesn’t make it acceptable. Some people are from a culture where beating their wives is the “done thing”, does that make it okay to do? No, of course not. Why are we so flippant when it comes to animal cruelty? As I said earlier, if it was your cat that got into his roof or your dog that escaped and ripped through his garden, and he took the same measures as he did with the possum would you have the same view of ‘oh but that’s what his generation did’?

Mysteryman 12:20 pm 27 Feb 15

Grimm said :

Alexandra Craig said :

La_Tour_Maubourg said :

Solidarity said :

No outrage here.

I don’t think he murders cats and dogs for fun. He’s an old man protecting his crops and his house. I bet he used the word bastard a lot.

He’s from a generation where you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, and that does have a lot to do with the sentencing. It’s all about context. My Oma used to pluck chickens in the backyard, as that was what was done – Going to convict her too?

Domaneco’s seen a lot more of life and lived through some experiences that you lot would never be able to cope with. Have some respect for the way the world was before judging him for his actions.

Agree 100%. No outrage whatsoever. Possum would’ve been a repeat offender and the perfect opportunity arose to arrest it from entering the roof cavity. Typical old European generation thing to do.

No. Call a possum removal service. It’s not that hard.

You are missing the point entirely.
I’d be surprised if he knew there was such thing as a “Possum removal service”. He is from a generation where this was the done thing. You didn’t just call somebody else to solve your problems. Where animal cruelty was REAL malicious animal cruelty, whereas today apparently even hunting constitutes animal cruelty to a lot of people.

Completely agree.

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