New data that shows the number of reported dog attacks in Canberra has increased by 422 per cent demonstrates why we need better laws to manage dangerous dogs, Shadow Minister for Urban Services Nicole Lawder said.
In 2017-18, 485 dog attacks were reported to Domestic Animal Services, according to government figures released this week. Five years ago, there were only 93 reported dog attack incidents in 2013-14.
In the calendar year to September 2, 154 dogs were seized after a dog attack. Of these, 78 were declared dangerous, or released on control orders or euthanised.
"This staggering increase in the number of dog attacks should cause concern for the government," Ms Lawder said.
"It explains why an increasing number of Canberrans are raising concerns about dog attacks.
"Canberrans and their pets continue to suffer as a consequence of the continued lack of effective dog management by the Labor-Greens government.
"Year after year the number of dog attacks increases, demonstrating why we need to deal seriously with the issue of poor dog management.
"We want Canberrans to feel safe when they walk their dogs around their suburb or at the park. They shouldn’t have to be fearful of being attacked.
"We need better laws to ensure dog attacks do not go unaccounted.
"I was pleased to present the first tranche of the Canberra Liberals proposed animal welfare laws to the Assembly this week.
"With our laws, dog rangers would be better placed to respond appropriately to each of these 485 dog attacks.
"I urge the government to review the Canberra Liberals’ proposed animal welfare closely," Ms Lawder concluded.
Interested Canberrans and stakeholders can provide feedback on Ms Lawder’s proposed laws at www.haveyoursay.net.au/dog-attacks/ or on the ACT Legislative Register.
Proposed animal welfare laws that will help protect domestic animals and their owners from dog attacks will be presented to the Assembly this week by Shadow Minister for Urban Services Nicole Lawder.
On Wednesday September 19, Ms Lawder will table an exposure draft of the Domestic Animals (Dangerous Dogs) Legislation Amendment Bill 2018.
This exposure draft is the first tranche of new animal welfare laws that will create clear and simple accountability measures after a dog attack.
The proposed laws require that:
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Urban Services Nicole Lawder:
"It is clear to me that dog attacks are both an animal welfare and public safety issue.
"Like me, most Canberrans love dogs. I’ve had my dog, Kenny, for 11 years and he’s definitely considered part of the family.
"Unfortunately, the sad reality is not all dog owners are responsible and not all dogs are safe.
"On average, there is one dog attack in Canberra every two days. We hear that the victims are usually pet owners or a family pet, like a cat or a dog. Often, smaller pets struggle to survive a dog attack.
"I have heard from many victims and witnesses to dog attacks who are concerned at how little is done after a dog attack. I have seen grief turn to anger when they learn that attacking dogs are let back into the community, and their owners are let off the hook.
"It’s not fair; we need better laws to protect our furry friends and Canberrans. I hope that this first tranche of new animal welfare laws will attract constructive feedback.
"We know that this is an important issue to many members of the community and so I’m keen to hear from everyone."
Submissions can be made via ACT Legislation Register from Wednesday September 19. Submissions close on October 12.
Interested Canberrans and stakeholders can also provide feedback at: www.haveyoursay.net.au/dog-attacks/
The Canberra Liberals will continue to pressure the government to take dangerous dogs off our streets after an ACT Supreme Court Justice questioned why ACT laws permit "residents of Canberra to be put at risk by aggressive dogs owned by others".
Despite dismissing the case of Canberra man who was savagely attacked by a dog at a public housing complex, Justice David Mossop questioned the government’s dangerous dog laws.
"Neither the difficulties of designing an appropriate legislative scheme, nor the importance of the respect for private property or the autonomy of dog owners, require a legislative regime which permits residents of Canberra to be put at risk by aggressive dogs owned by others," Justice Mossop said.
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Urban Services Nicole Lawder:
"It is disheartening to read about the run around dog attack victims receive from the government.
"As noted by the judge, the ACT government’s dangerous dog laws put innocent members of the community at risk.
The Canberra Liberals have repeatedly called on City Services Minister Meegan Fitzharris to take action on dangerous dogs.
"My colleague Alistair Coe introduced strong new laws surrounding dangerous dogs to the Assembly last year. These tough laws required dogs that cause serious injury or death to be seized during an investigation and destroyed if found to be a threat to the community.
"Unfortunately, Labor and the Greens chose to leave the community vulnerable to vicious dog attacks by watering down the laws introduced by the Opposition.
"The ACT government should take heed of Justice Mossop’s reprimand and introduce strong new laws to help keep the community safe from vicious dogs.
"The Canberra Liberals will continue to pressure the government to finally act on this issue. My door is always open if Minister Fitzharris would like to sit down and discuss how we can pass legislation together to ensure that dangerous dogs are taken off the streets."
Canberrans who are concerned about dog attacks in their community are encouraged to join the conversation about how we can make Canberra safer, Shadow Minister for Urban Services Nicole Lawder said.
On Saturday September 8, 2018, the Canberra Liberals will host numerous pop-up events across the city to discuss the pressing issue of dog attacks.
"Like me, most Canberrans are dog lovers, and have had a faithful furry friend in the family for years," Ms Lawder said.
"Unfortunately, not all dogs have responsible owners, and not all dogs are safe.
"On average, there is one dog attack in Canberra every two days, many of which have resulted in serious injury or death of a person or domestic animal.
"Most people are shocked to learn how little is done when a dog injures or kills a person or domestic animal.
"A number of these people have contacted the Canberra Liberals to voice their concern about dog attacks, worried that the government is not listening to them.
"They feel that the current laws fail to deal with dog attacks adequately.
"They think we need better laws to protect the community from dog attacks, and so do we.
"We are really interested to have a collaborative approach to how we can better respond to dangerous dog attacks.
"We want Canberrans to have an opportunity to share their thoughts about dog attacks, to know that what they say matters and can help to make our laws better.
"I hope that all interested Canberrans will drop by to one of our events and speak to our volunteers.
"But we don’t want anyone to miss out. People who can’t attend an event can share their thoughts online at www.haveyoursay.net.au/dog-attacks/," Ms Lawder concluded.
I am very concerned and saddened that a police officer is now in hospital due to a vicious dog attack.
Dogs that violently attack people, and other pets, are a threat to public safety. They should not be allowed on our streets and in the community. The government cannot continue to overlook these very serious incidents. It has a duty to ensure public safety. A way to do that is to ensure that Domestic Animal Services is appropriately staffed and guided by clear policies, not the current mishmash and inconsistent application of policies. Dog rangers have a very important role in keeping our community safe from vicious dogs, but the reality is, their ability to protect the public will be hindered without appropriate backing from the government.
Dogs that violently attack people, and other pets, are a threat to public safety. They should not be allowed on our streets and in the community.
The government cannot continue to overlook these very serious incidents. It has a duty to ensure public safety.
A way to do that is to ensure that Domestic Animal Services is appropriately staffed and guided by clear policies, not the current mishmash and inconsistent application of policies.
Dog rangers have a very important role in keeping our community safe from vicious dogs, but the reality is, their ability to protect the public will be hindered without appropriate backing from the government.