Action on dog attacks needed
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Action on dog attacks needed

The horrific attack on an elderly dog in Gungahlin is another reminder that the territory has a serious problem with pet ownership and the laws that exist around dangerous dogs.

What will it take before both lawmakers and pet owners take appropriate action to stop the disturbingly regular occurrences of dogs attacking people and other canines?

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There might not be an easy solution to be found but it's an issue that we as a territory need to tackle.

Pet owners need to take responsibility for registering their dogs, their dogs' behaviour and knowing where they are at all times.

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But the ACT government also needs to ensure that appropriate legislation is in place and that deterrents are strong enough to force a change of behaviour.

The harrowing story the Toscans have shared about the attack on their dog is certainly confronting and was upsetting to all who witnessed it. But imagine if instead of a dog the victim was a young child?

That is why this is not an issue to be taken lightly and the opposition is taking the right step in pushing for action in the ACT Legislative Assembly.

Laws are not the silver bullet but they are part of what could be the solution for the city.

Transport Canberra and City Services statistics show there are about 120,000 registered and unregistered dogs in Canberra.

The department has investigated 360 attacks in the past year and has seized 124 dogs.

Local authorities conducted 245 dog attack investigations in 2014-15 and of these 153 attacks left people in need of hospital treatment. Yet only 43 infringement notices were issued to dog owners.

Transport Canberra and City Services has implemented a working group, including members of the community who have been affected by a dog attack incident, and new operational procedures are being drafted to improve how Domestic Animal Services responds to and manages dog attacks.

This is commendable. But the community is likely to be as astounded as the Toscans that the three dogs responsible for the death of their pet were returned to their owners and not deemed dangerous.

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