Canberra dog attacks rise, causing Opposition to call for stronger laws



Updated

October 12, 2018 06:44:15

Dog attacks have spiked in Canberra, jumping 25 per cent in the past financial year alone.

Between July 2017 and June this year, the ACT Government’s Transport Canberra and City Services (TCCS) received 485 attack reports, or about nine every week.

Key points

  • Dog attacks in Canberra rose almost 25 per cent in 12 months, to nearly five hundred
  • Government attributes spike to more reporting, stronger laws
  • Opposition wants even tougher legislation, specifically for dog-on-animal attacks

More than a third of those attacks (177) were on either a person or both a person and an animal.

The number of dogs seized rose even faster, from 145 in 2016-17 to 213 last financial year — an increase of almost half.

About 190 of those dogs were returned, while 22 were euthanised.

A TCSS spokesman said a rise in dog attack reports is “generally” attributed to more awareness about the need to report attacks.

He pointed to legislative amendments introduced in late 2017, which mandated a keeper or carer of a dog involved in an attack on a person or other animal to give the affected person their name, address and contact details.

If a person or animal is seriously injured, the carer of the attacking dog must also advise TCCS of the attack within five days.

The spokesman also pointed to animal rangers now having power to seize and home-impound dogs on conditions during minor investigations as a reason for the rising trend.

“This provides a means to ensure public safety is maintained while an investigation is undertaken, without requiring a dog to be impounded at the DAS (Domestic Animal Services) facility,” he said.

But the Opposition’s urban services spokeswoman, Nicole Lawder, said the spike showed a need for even stronger laws.

“The sad fact is that a very small minority of people who are not responsible are making life difficult for the majority,” she said.

“We need to improve the legislation in a way that doesn’t create an onerous burden on the vast majority of well-behaved and responsible dog lovers.”

Opposition says laws passed in honour of late politician not enough

The changes the TCCS spokesman referred to were tougher dangerous dog laws passed last November, when the Legislative Assembly took the unusual step of passing an Opposition bill in honour of late MLA and advocate for the issue, Steve Doszpot.

Under that bill — which passed only with Government amendments — officials could decide to euthanase a dog before it attacks, if it is believed to pose an unacceptable and irreversible risk to the public.

At the time, Ms Lawder said it was a step in the right direction but called for more action, including mandating animal rangers to investigate and make declarations when a dog attacks a pet, not just when it attacks a human as the law currently stands.

Ms Lawder questioned why a report into Domestic Animal Services, commissioned by the Government last year, had not been released or clearly and transparently implemented.

“Given that the Government’s had it since April, my question [that] remains [is] why hasn’t more been done to ensure that the public is safe,” she said.

Month Attack on animal Attack on person Attack on person & animal Attacks reported Dogs seized
July 2017 18 9 6 33 15
August 2017 18 11 1 30 25
September 2017 19 7 3 29 20
October 2017 24 17 1 42 21
November 2017 25 18 10 53 19
December 2017 25 18 10 53 19
January 2018 25 6 5 36 20
February 2018 30 12 8 50 17
March 2018 23 8 5 36 22
April 2018 33 15 6 54 6
May 2018 21 15 5 41 11
June 2018 N/A N/A N/A 46 22
Total 485 213

Topics:

dog,

animal-attacks,

human-interest,

canberra-2600,

act,

australia

First posted

October 12, 2018 06:09:37



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