Two days after a woman in Melbourne was fined in Australia for ignoring COVID-19 stay-at-home order and venturing out to feed her pet horse, police have relented and withdrawn the charges.
The woman, Karen Evans, who resides in Ferntree Gully, left home to feed her pet horse Lily on another property some 13 kilometers away. But with strict restrictions in place in Victoria state of Australia, she was issued a postal fine of A$1,652. Police have collected fines from 119 individuals for breaching OCVID-19 lockdown order on July 12.
Evans told police that she had no one else to feed her horse but she was issued the fine anyway. "So, he's just like well you do understand I have to fine you. I said this is ridiculous you can't fine me for caregiving just because she's not a human being. I was angry, I was very angry," she told 7NEWS.
Under the restrictions, people can leave home only for work, essential shopping, exercise or medical care. However, on July 12, Victoria police said it did not intend to proceed with the fine as she had a legitimate reason. "Victoria Police is aware of a recent media report on a woman who was allegedly fined for breaching the stage three stay-at-home directions on her way home from feeding her horse," a Victoria Police spokesperson said.
Police also confirmed that Evans didn't receive any fine as it was to reach by mail and she wouldn't be issued one. "Based on the circumstances, Victoria Police does not intend to proceed with the matter," the police added.
Victoria Police Clear Confusion
The confusion emerged due to the lack of clarification on what was allowed and what not during Melbourne's second lockdown. But police have since reassured citizens that feeding livestock or pets will not attract any fines. The website of Victoria's Department of Health has since been updated allowing people to leave home to tend to pets and livestock which are not located at the residency.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Victoria also reassured the citizens and pet owners that they should continue to go out and feed their pets despite the Stage 3 restrictions in place due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Failing to do so will instead attract hefty fines under the law.
"Our RSPCA inspectors are encountering many people who are unsure about whether they are able to travel to feed their animals or take them to a vet – we want to remind everybody that they are still able to provide proper care for their animals during this time," said RSPCA Victoria's Head of Inspectorate, Terry Ness.
The same rules apply to even those who feed pets and livestock for payment. "People who agist their horses must also continue to visit and check on them regularly to provide proper care, and people who own or operate agistment facilities must continue to treat and care for the animals on the property and maintain the facility," Ness added.
On July 12, Victoria reported 273 new cases of COVID-19. It is the worst affected state in Australia, which is witnessing a second wave of the virus.