Some issues just do not go away, like an animal that sinks its teeth into an object and does not let go. Speaking of which, the fact that dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs are on the streets of Canberra definitely falls under the unshakable issues category – a hot topic indeed.
Recently, we heard yet another report in the media of an attack by dogs. In this case, a dog owner had left her dog in the backyard to go shopping only to return to find that her much-loved pet had been attacked and killed by the neighbour’s dogs.
There are so many things wrong with how the ACT government handled this situation – and other cases like it in recent times.
The government seems to be taking the softly-softly approach in situations where the danger to people and other animals has become obvious.
The main point I make is that this situation has been allowed to evolve by the ACT government.
Are they prepared to take responsibility when yet another person gets hurt and/or another animal is mauled – and the aggrieved person decides to sue the government?
A quick tangent to make a point: In the case of the use of mobile phones while driving, the law has been made very clear – don’t touch that phone. The police have a hell of a job catching the silly people who still do it. This point was made very clear with the release of this excellent small movie – definitely worth watching.
What does this issue have in common with dog attacks? – Denial. Those who use/touch their phone while driving, deny that they are doing it or worse still acknowledge that they are doing it but that they are more than capable of driving and using the phone. The levels of denial are beyond belief – but sadly very common.
Talk to any of the dog owners who have nuisance dogs – or worse, potentially dangerous dogs – and you will hear a logic of denial along the lines of ‘it is now accepted by society that we have pet dogs and everyone should just adjust to their existence – and besides, my dog would never do such a thing’.
For instance, recently a couple were confronted by a large dog and had to quickly take action to remove their own small dog from the incoming monster who looked ready to attack. The response from the larger-dog owner: “you should have lifted your dog out of the way sooner and then there would not have been a problem”.
A couple of us have observed one dog owner with three small dogs, who strolls around the wetlands paying little attention to where her three ‘babies’ are wandering. The trouble is we know of another dog owner with three very aggressive ‘bull-terrier’ like dogs that also wander free while their owner is busy on the phone, texting or whatever. We dread the day when these two owners – or more to the point, their dogs – meet up.
The issue is, we are faced with the reality that dangerous dogs exist in neighbourhoods. Here in Dickson, dogs are allowed to roam free on the wetlands – being designated as an off-leash area – that means it is a non-fenced free-range dog park any time of the day.
The situation with the wetlands is a case study of the lax approach by this government.
Given the regularity of these incidents across Canberra and the high-profile coverage they receive in various media portals, one would expect that the ACT government would have identified this issue long ago and taken very serious steps to have dogs removed from neighbourhoods and public spaces once they have been judged to be dangerous.
At the moment, the ACT government – the Minister and probably the chief bureaucrats – have positioned themselves in the situation of being possibly viewed as ‘Willfully Blind’ (read: intentionally ignorant of the situation to avoid any liability), in that they are allowing a clearly dangerous situation to continue.
Dogs are part of our society, and for non-dog owners, this is okay, as long as the decision to own a dog does not interfere with everyone else’s. More to the point of the recent incident, the many dangerous dogs in Canberra are not just a danger to people – but also potentially dangerous to everyone else’s pets.
Ultimately because the government has refused to bring change to the legislation, it remains that in Canberra, anyone’s pet is in serious danger as result of this ‘Willful Blindness’ the ACT government seems to be practising.
It seems the real danger here to your much-loved pet is actually the inaction of the ACT government.
Do you think the ACT government should toughen laws on potentially dangerous dogs? What are your thoughts on having off-leash public areas? Let us know by commenting below.