The Canberra Liberals have presented an exposure draft of new animal welfare laws to the ACT Legislative Assembly with the aim of establishing “clear and simple accountability measures after a dog attack” in the ACT.
Shadow Minister for Urban Services Nicole Lawder says the Liberals believe better laws are required to protect humans and their pets.
“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,” Ms Lawder says.
The exposure draft of the Domestic Animals (Dangerous Dogs) Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 will propose laws that require: a registrar must investigate complaints of dog attacks that cause significant injury or death of a person or domestic animal; a dog that seriously injures or kills a domestic animal must be impounded during the course of an investigation; investigations are documented; complainants, dog owners and the Minister are advised of the outcome of an investigation within 14 days of completing an investigation; and that if a dog is not destroyed, the registrar must issue a control order and declare a dog dangerous.
The Independent Review into Management of Dogs in the ACT, which was delivered to the ACT Government in April and released publicly earlier this month, states the most effective way to reduce dog attacks is through prevention.
“Experts recognise that the majority of dog attacks could be prevented through responsible pet ownership and/or changes in human behaviour when interacting with dogs,” the review states.
“There is a well understood correlation between dogs who are not responsibly managed, cared for, or controlled and the instance of dog attacks.”
The review calls for a “sophisticated approach” in assessing and responding to attacking and harassing dogs and advises the ACT Government to not introduce breed-specific legislation.
“This approach should ensure discretion in decision making and consider a number of factors on a case-by-case basis. Considerations should include whether the dog was reasonably provoked (e.g. invasion of yards by other animals).
“Attacks to humans should be assessed based on the severity of injury and individual circumstance.”
In a response to the review, the ACT Government’s Transport Canberra and City Services Directorate states they will work towards developing the ‘Canberra model’ of dog management by working with and understanding the drivers of the Canberra community when it comes to pet ownership.
Of the review’s 34 measures, they agree with 22, agree in principal with six, and have noted six.
ACT Minister for City Services Chris Steel’s office was contacted for comment, but had not provided a response at the time of going to press.
Canberrans and stakeholders can provide feedback on the exposure draft until 12 October at haveyoursay.net.au/dog-attacks