A BELOVED dog at the centre of a stand-off between Mornington Peninsula Shire Council and its owner has died.
Mount Martha dog Bella became a symbol of the fight against bureaucracy in 2021 when owner David Ball was fined $248 for having a dog at large.
Ball said Bella, just out of surgery after the removal of a cyst on her left back leg and several infected teeth, may have passed him on her way out to the garden which – like the neighbours – has no front fence. A grass easement abuts the made road.
He said the shire “safety officer” – not described as a ranger or local laws officer – walked up and asked if Bella belonged to him. After confirming she did, Ball explained that the “old girl” had been groggy all night from the previous day’s operation, and he had not expected her to come outside in her weakened state.
Unmoved, the officer proceeded to issue a fine.
Annoyed at the pettiness of the fine – with the elderly Staffordshire just barely past the property boundary – Ball vowed to “go to jail” rather than pay the fine (“Fine, but groggy Bella in no mood to move” The News 10/5/21).
He said his then-14-year-old dog had been “nabbed by default” as the shire officer was in the dead-end street, possibly looking for another dog that had “rushed” a neighbour on Wednesday 21 April.
Ball, who was caring for his wife who had suffered a stroke, was not prepared to step back from the fight for justice and went public, eventually leading the council to drop its pursuit of the money.
At the time of the incident, Ball advised dog owners, especially in Mornington, “to be aware”.
“This is a convenient wage earner,” he said.
Last week Ball said he was grieving Bella’s passing but thankful for her company over many years.