Baa battle: $130K court fight to keep pet sheep

Baa humbug: Vu Ho with his beloved pet sheep Baa.

A Springvale man hopes a $130,000 court battle with his local council will let him keep his beloved pet sheep Baa on his suburban property.

Vu Ho says the Greater Dandenong City Council has no right to fine him and order the removal of Baa from his Springvale property.

The electrician was fined $220 in February last year and ordered to remove his pet of 11 years under a council law against keeping livestock on land under half a hectare.

Mr Ho’s solicitor Don Gibson told the Victorian Supreme Court on Thursday the council’s animal laws were unclear, contradictory and at odds with the municipality’s planning scheme.

While the council says its law classifies sheep as livestock, the animal could in fact be classed as a pet under the planning scheme, Mr Gibson said.

“One says (keeping a sheep) is a total prohibition, but the other says you can do it,” he said.

“The law by the council should be re-drafted. It’s invalid.”

Barrister Nick Tweedie, for the council, argued there were no contradictions between the laws and the planning scheme, saying the council’s animal ownership policies were clear when read correctly.

“There are no differences, and no conflicts,” he said.

Speaking outside court, Mr Ho said the combined cost from his and the council’s legal teams had blown out to $130,000, but the fight was worth it, because losing Baa was unthinkable.

“That’s a big problem, it’s (like) a member of your family — you will not accept it. I will do whatever I can to protect her,” he said.

“My sheep has nowhere to go, because I’m poor. I’ve got no farm or whatever, just a house and my workshop.”

The case is continuing before Justice Cameron Macaulay.


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