Twelve new kennels for dangerous dogs at the Domestic Animal Services (DAS) shelter in Symonston will set the ACT Government back almost $840,000, but will provide a safer working environment for staff.
The new kennels will provide inbuilt heating and cooling and have a large outdoor area where the dogs can exercise. The kennel doors will be operated via a pulley system and sliding door to minimise staff interaction with the dogs.
The design also means staff can feed the dog, allow it to exercise and clean its kennel while remaining at a safe distance from the animal, City Services Minister Chris Steel said.
“The ACT Government consulted with appropriate stakeholders during the design process for the dangerous dog kennel project to ensure the design and specifications met animal welfare standards and requirements,” Mr Steel said.
Construction on the kennel is scheduled to begin in August.
Dog attacks in Canberra are a hot topic for debate after the opposition has repeatedly called for stronger dog attack laws following increasing instances of dog attacks and hospitalisations from attacks.
The Canberra Liberals want the legislation around dog attacks and bites expanded. At the moment, only attacks on humans above a certain severity are reported. The Liberals would like laws expanded to include dog-on-dog attacks.
A year ago, a couple in Flynn were walking their two dogs when they were attacked by two large hunting-type dogs which almost killed their pets. The vet told Shadow Minister for Urban Services Nicole Lawder it was the worst mauling they had seen, but the attacking dogs were still allowed to return home.
“I believe that the problem is that we are letting dangerous dogs – dogs who have already attacked – back into the community,” Ms Lawder said. “Too often, we hear that the dogs involved have previously been reported for other attacks.”
Director of Canberra Veterinary Emergency Services Tracy Hughes says she treats two to three dogs a week that have been injured in dog attacks.
“Dog attacks are not an uncommon thing,” Ms Hughes said.
“As an owner, it is completely traumatic. There are many different reasons for dog attacks. Some dog attacks even happen in their own household when there is jealousy over food.”
A dog mauled a therapy alpaca in March last year so badly that she had to be euthanised.
A dog also killed a woman in her late 40s in September 2017 before attacking police officers who tried to administer first aid after arriving on the scene.
Police attempted to provide first aid to the female victim when the dog then attacked them. The dog had been returned to the woman by authorities only months before after it had viciously attacked another person.
In April 2018, An Independent Review into Dog Management in the ACT outlined 34 recommendations to the Government in response to an increase in dog attacks.
The recommendations included the introduction of a separate category of registration for hunting dogs, and coloured collars to make them easily identifiable.
The Government agreed with 22 of the recommendations, agreed in principle for a further six and noted the remaining six.