Footage of a man accused of kicking a dog at a protest in Melbourne has sparked outrage and will be investigated by the RSPCA.
The RSPCA has confirmed it is investigating the alleged assault of a dog at a protest in Melbourne this week.
Footage surfaced online of the animal allegedly being kicked by a man outside trade union CFMEU headquarters on Monday.
The individual was one of hundreds at the location protesting mandatory vaccinations for construction workers after a two-week industry shutdown was announced Sunday night.
The video, shared by Channel 7, showed a man with a dog in a verbal altercation with another man.
As the dog owner backed away, the other man appeared to kick his dog in its side.
The short clip sparked an angry reaction from thousands on social media, with many people bringing it to the attention of RSPCA Victoria.
By Monday afternoon, the organisation confirmed it had launched an investigation into the incident.
“RSPCA VIC is aware of social media reports of an incident that allegedly occurred at a CFMEU protest earlier today where an unidentified male allegedly appeared to kick a dog,” its tweet read.
Twitter users were also asked to submit relevant information to the organisation if they had any.
It confirmed on Tuesday the case had been escalated in priority and revealed several reports had been submitted.
“I can confirm we have received several reports around this incident, it is currently an open investigation and being treated as a priority,” an employee wrote in an update.
The dog did not appear to be injured following the alleged attack, with video showing it was able to continue walking as normal afterwards.
Its unclear what penalty the alleged perpetrator could face if he is found guilty of animal cruelty charges, but the maximum penalty for assaulting an animal is $45,435 or 12 months’ prison.
“Animal cruelty is never acceptable under any circumstances and RSPCA Victoria considers all cases of animal cruelty high priority,” RSPCA Victoria Chief Inspector Michael Stagg said.
“It was disturbing to see the footage which appeared to show intentional cruelty inflicted on a defenceless animal. I assure the Victorian community that RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate is investigating this allegedcase of cruelty with the intention of holding the perpetrator accountable to the full extent of the law.
“There is no excuse for any animal to be subjected to abuse and we want to send the strong message that we will continue to hold people to account for such behaviour.”
‘Extreme organisations’ to blame for protest
CFMEU boss John Setka said wild scenes outside the officers were the result of “extreme organisations” and not necessarily disgruntled union members.
“I think it’s been hijacked by a few of these extreme organisations,” Mr Setka told 3AW Radio
“There are some of our members out there … it’s not all construction workers. It’s a bit disappointing that sometimes you get extremists that sort of hijack events.”
Hundreds of people rallied in high-vis but few wore face masks, with some speaking about Covid-19 being a conspiracy.
The protest came after hundreds gathered in inner Melbourne on Saturday protesting the Covid lockdown, some violently clashing with police.
Angry protesters chanted “no more lockdown”, “sack Dan Andrews” and “we will not comply”.
Originally published as RSPCA Victoria announces investigation into alleged dog kicking at Melbourne protest