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Possum beater on video not convicted

By 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. 

What’s Your opinion?


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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.

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