The big threat to your dog – the ACT government

Paul Costigan 11 October 2017 8
wooden dog image.

Doggone it! When will the ACT government toughen laws on dangerous dogs?

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.

I have posted before on dogs, the wetlands in Dickson and how it is a free-range, off-leash dog park which could potentially lead to heavy repercussions.

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.

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8 Responses to The big threat to your dog – the ACT government
User777 User777 9:35 am 16 Oct 17

What about humans attacking dogs/animals?

Our aged neighbour has been using a Fox hunting whistle to call our family dog to him so he can attack her (throwing very large rocks weighing 250gms, stabbing dog with large/sharpened stakes) DURING the time we had Personal Protection Orders against this person in place which would see a normal person serving 3-5yrs for breaching the orders as well as possible animal cruelty charges.

DPP have now advised me they are dropping the charges because the person won’t be imprisoned (for breaching the PPOs) due to their age (80+). So rather than upset him further DPP are withdrawing the case in the hope this placates the accused.

I understand the issue of off leash dogs and do not condone any attacks to humans or other pets but when a human of age (who should know better) completely disregards various court orders/being on bail and continues to harass us and our dog (dog is contained in yard and cannot escape), to be charged with an offence only for the DPP to withdraw the case makes me wonder why all the vitriol against dog owners.

This person also made allegations of being bitten by our dog. The govt investigated and we were told that under the circumstances reported that the neighbour was in the wrong (hanging over the fence to stab/throw rocks at dog – another breach) and our dog was cleared of any wrong doing whatsoever.

We’ve owned pet for 5yrs, not a single complaint lodged against her. We’ve uncovered information that this same neighbour did the same thing to previous tenants animals showing a pattern of behaviour and yet. . . it seems everyone is very quick to point the finger at the animal whilst ignoring poor human behaviour.

Cerdig Cerdig 10:32 pm 15 Oct 17

There are laws on dangerous dogs.

carnardly carnardly 10:13 pm 14 Oct 17

the owner of the licking dog had his fine overturned in court. all’s well that ends well.

Speak to the owner of the dog if you’re concerned, but to call the police was complete overkill

JC JC 6:04 am 13 Oct 17

dungfungus said :

I wonder how many of our MLAs own dogs? I can guarantee that if a dog belonging to a person of influence and power is monstered by a bigger dog the wheels will start to turn.

And you would be complaining about there being a Nanny state.

Paul Costigan Paul Costigan 11:18 pm 12 Oct 17

I was sent this link to a story about how a council deals with dangerous dogs – and their owners.
If they can do this – why not the ACT Government?

Alan Timms Alan Timms 9:08 pm 11 Oct 17

You’re wasting your breath Paul. No one (MPs, local government and councils) cares what happens to your dog, my dog or anyone else’s dog. They don’t care whether you get attacked an go to hospital, they don’t care whether your pet gets killed. Unfortunately, the only way to protect your pet is with a weapon – if we could shoot offending dogs the authorities might actually do something to change the laws. Unless this ever comes to pass … this will continue to happen … (Nearly all these are from 2017)

Bajar Bajar 8:49 am 11 Oct 17

It’s a huge issue in Lyneham as well. There have been several near-attacks on the oval between Lyneham Primary and Brindabella, as well as several actual attacks on the path from the shops to Lyneham Wetlands. Response from the ACT government was signs. Which were used by dog owners to hang bags of dog waste from. The signs were removed. More willful ignorance from an arrogant government.

dungfungus dungfungus 8:02 am 11 Oct 17

I wonder how many of our MLAs own dogs? I can guarantee that if a dog belonging to a person of influence and power is monstered by a bigger dog the wheels will start to turn.

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