Recommendations by an independent panel of experts on how to manage dog attacks reflect proposed new animal welfare laws that I will present to the Assembly tomorrow, Shadow Minister for Urban Services Nicole Lawder said.
The Independent Review into Management of Dogs in the ACT acknowledges community concern about dog attacks and that the number of dog attacks and hospital presentations are increasing.
The panel acknowledged the important role that pet owners play in the management of dogs.
The report said victims should be informed about the outcomes of an investigation, that data be collected and stored more effectively and that dog rangers be given the power to seize dogs that pose a risk to the public safety.
“While I find it odd that the government would suppress this report for almost half year without reason, I welcome this review and hope the government will take it into consideration when it scrutinises my proposed laws,” Ms Lawder said.
“The laws that I will present tomorrow will create clear accountability measures which address recommendations raised in the review.
“Many victims of dog attacks have complained they aren’t informed about the status of an investigation into a dog attack. The Opposition has previously raised this issue with the government on behalf of constituents, but the government didn’t seem to think it mattered.
“Under my proposed laws, Domestic Animal Services will be required to inform the victim, dog owner and responsible Minister of the outcome of the investigation within 14 days of its completion. The registrar will also be required to collect data and document an investigation.
“Our laws also address the conditions under which a dog is seized; tightening them to require that a dog that seriously injures or kills a domestic animal must be impounded during the course of an investigation.
“The report urged that dogs should not be seized for minor incidents. Our laws make provisions for this by distinguishing between domestic and non-domestic animals. This means that a dog that innocently kills or injures a non-domestic animal will not be captured by the legislation,” Ms Lawder concluded.
Submissions on my proposed legislation open on Wednesday September 19 and close on October 12 via the ACT Legislation Register. Interested Canberrans and stakeholders can also provide feedback at www.haveyoursay.net.au/dog-attacks/
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.