Press Council censures The Age for Lost Dogs Home report, ruling it was misleading and unfair

The Age has been censured by the Australian Press Council headlined “It’s concrete pens and barking dogs”, ruling the Fairfax Media masthead failed to take reasonable steps to avoid a misleading and unfair report.


According to the Press Council’s ruling, the article said a dog at the Lost Dogs Home ‘Dino’ was treated for problems with impulse control and kept in a cage for five months with little exercise until “he was filmed for [a] video. Then he was killed”.

The article gave descriptions of the stays, medications and fates of six other dogs.

The Lost Dogs Home said the article failed to note Dino’s long stay was partly due to untreatable aggression and to pancreatitis which had led to his hospitalisation and then euthanasia after an expert assessment.

The Home said it informed The Age about these matters in a telephone discussion the day prior to the story’s publication.

The Home also said the article failed to note Dino was walked twice daily and had 45 minutes in a dog-run every day.

The complainant said the reporting about the six other dogs was also inaccurate and unfair because the information – taken from notes on pens and screen grabs from the Home’s computers – was incomplete and these were not official records.

The Home said if The Age had requested this information it would have provided official medical histories on the dogs and also argued statements in a video were also wrong.

The organisation also raised concerns around audio of a staff member which was used in the video having been recorded without permission.

It said the recording when combined with other incorrect claims was unfair to the staff member and not justified in the public interest.

The Age defended the article saying the Lost Dogs’ Home never mentioned Dino’s pancreatitis, his hospitalisation or that this had inhibited his adoption.

It also defended the reporting about the six other dogs which was taken from the Home’s computers or whiteboards and constituted the home’s own records but said they had not implied these were full histories of each dog in the article.

In defence of the video, The Age said it did not actually say hat hundreds of dogs were fed sedatives and anti-depressants and if this was implied, it was accurate as a figure “over time”.

It said the video was short and all of the claims and responses were explained in more detail in the print article.

The Age also said the audio recording was in the public interest and the substance of it had been put to the complainant for comment.


In its ruling, the Press Council noted the “conflicting accounts of whether the publication was informed about Dino’s pancreatitis” and after “weighing the material on both sides”, the Council considered it “more likely than not that this was communicated”.

As the article inferred that Dino was euthanised for no valid reason, the Council considered it “inaccurate and unfair not to include specific reference to Dino’s aggression and pancreatitis”.

As to the other six dogs, the Council considered it “would have been reasonable for the publication to have sought their medical histories before the article was published and included material from these” in order “to provide a fair and balanced report”.

The Council concluded that in not doing so, the publication failed to take reasonable steps to avoid a misleading and unfair report of the dogs’ treatment.


While the Council considered “it may have been unfair to make and use the recording without consent”, it was their view “there was a sufficient public interest to justify doing so”.



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