PRESS RELEASE: State departments dodge illegal dog death investigation duty

Published by Alex Vince on

PRESS RELEASE: State departments dodge illegal dog death investigation duty

Warning: this document contains material and descriptions that may be distressing to some readers.

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Ted, the surviving brother of Tippy and Fay refuses to leave their final resting place.

Over 2 short days, the Coalition has been inundated with reports of suspicious dog deaths following the ingestion of 1080 poison, a chemical liberally used across the country to kill unwanted or unwelcome wildlife. Tippy and Fay are the latest innocent victims to have their lives violently taken from them after accidentally eating a 1080-laced bait. A petition demanding an urgent investigation into their deaths has attracted over 2000 signatures in only 2 days. Now, authorities are refusing to acknowledge, register or investigate their deaths.

As the only advocacy organisation in Australia that specifically works to support and seek justice for the victims of 1080 poison, the Coalition regularly receives reports of companion animal deaths. Often, victims are unable to locate the department or agency responsible for overseeing or investigating contraventions of its use. This means we are often the first and only port of call for these families in the first throes of grief after the loss of a beloved companion animal. 

“Shockingly, no central access point exists for the families of victims to report the loss of their loved ones following their death to 1080 poison. State government documents are unequivocal: Queensland Health are explicitly tasked with receiving and acting on these reports. The department has a legislated responsibility to oversee and investigate any suspicious non-target 1080 deaths, but they are passing the buck at every opportunity. We’ve been given no other option than to go over their heads, so we are directly requesting the Minister mobilise his Department and do what State law and the Queensland community expects them to do: their job”.

– Alex Vince, campaign co-ordinator

Original correspondence from Tippy and Fay's grieving family

A petition sponsored by the Coalition that calls on Queensland Health, the department tasked with taking and actioning reports of “non-target animal deaths” due to 1080 poison, has amassed over 2000 signatures in less than 2 days and an outpouring of public support for the heartbroken family. Official documentation published by the Queensland Government explicitly states:

“Our concern is simple: Australians and their beloved companion animals are being knowingly exposed to a chemical so infamous for its indiscriminacy and cruelty that almost every other country on Earth refuses to permit it past its borders. Our own government considers 1080 a chemical of national security concern. We’ve had over six decades of trial and error using 1080 poison: in that time scores of innocent animals like Tippy and Fay have had their lives tragically taken from them. Now the authorities expected to investigate their deaths are wiping their hands of responsibility. We don’t believe it’s acceptable and we won’t accept anything less than a robust and transparent investigation into Tippy and Fay’s tragic deaths”.

Tippy and Fay in their final resting place, Queensland 2020

The Coalition has attempted to report Tippy and Fay’s deaths to the Queensland Government, Queensland Health and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. All have denied responsibility for investigating the event that took the lives of two non-target animals less than a week ago. In a formal request tabled and received today, the Coalition has called for the  Minister of Health, Dr. Steven Miles, to treat the report with the urgency, transparency and professionalism with which it deserves and is codified in relevant State legislation. We have requested Tippy and Fay’s deaths be investigated by Queensland Health and for representatives of the department to be appropriately educated on the responsibilities the agency holds. 

“Since forming the Coalition three short years ago, we have amassed considerable experience in supporting victim families and campaigning for their justice. It is a strong indictment of the regulatory system that it has proven impossible for us to formally register Tippy and Fay’s deaths with the responsible authorities. If we get stonewalled after citing specific law clauses in State law and are redirected from one office to another, and then another, what chance do grieving families have to get their concerns or complaints heard? It’s unacceptable and we strongly urge the Minister to promptly rectify these glaring inconsistencies in his portfolio. We won’t stop fighting until Tippy and Fay’s family see the justice they so sorely deserve and those responsible for their deaths face the punishment State law says is their fate”.

There is precedence for investigations of this kind to be made. In January of 2017, a multi-agency response was launched following suspicious and suspected unlawful dog deaths in a suburb in the Gulf Country region of Queensland. Representatives of several agencies, including Queensland Health, coordinated an investigation into these allegations. It appears that in this instance, Queensland Health officials were aware of the departments responsibility to investigate suspicious events involving the fatal poisoning of non-target animals. Indeed, the subjects of this investigation were also companion canines. 

“We have followed the letter of the law and have been met with obfuscation and denial at every turn. It looks like the Queensland authorities are expecting to get away with shirking their duties and are abandoning grieving families to get lost in the regulatory process as they do. We have registered a formal complaint with the department so that the families who will inevitably face this trauma in the future will not be subjected to the added injustice of being denied the opportunity to have their loved ones deaths properly investigated. I have personally tabled an urgent request with Minister Miles to promptly launch an official departmental investigation into Tippy and Fay’s death. I am yet to hear back from the Minister or his office”.

Due diligence and adherence to State law has been followed in reporting Tippy and Fay’s deaths. The Coalition has contacted the Queensland Government, Queensland Health and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to ensure an investigation is promptly initiated. Each department has denied responsibility and has triaged our report, redirecting it from one department to another. 

1 Comment

Kathi · September 12, 2020 at 10:14 pm

Ban the shit!! It is a very cruel way for an animal to die. Perhaps the RSPCA should be looking at the QLD Govt for animal cruelty charges!!🤬 I grew up on a cattle property, my father who was the Aussie bushy would never use 1080 as it is a very cruel and in humane.
I know it’s asking a lot for a Govt to have heart.

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