The number of dog attacks in Canberra is on the rise
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The number of dog attacks in Canberra is on the rise

The number of dog attacks in Canberra appears on the rise with a fourfold increase in investigations in just five years.

Figures from annual reports show investigations increased from 85 in 2012-13 to 389 in the last financial year. Nearly 160 dogs were seized pending an investigation this year alone.

In 2017, 158 dogs were seized pending an investigation into an attack incident and 24 were declared dangerous dogs.

In 2017, 158 dogs were seized pending an investigation into an attack incident and 24 were declared dangerous dogs.

A domestic animals service spokesman said the spike in dog attack investigations had several contributing factors, including changes in how dog attacks were defined from 2014 and the introduction of a simplified reporting system in 2015.

Annual reports show Canberra rangers conducted:

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  • 85 attack investigations in 2012-13, issuing six dangerous dog licences and seizing some dogs;
  • 93 attack investigations in 2013-14, issuing eight dangerous dog licences and seizing some dogs;
  • 245 attack investigations in 2014-15, issuing 11 dangerous dog licences and seizing 116 dogs;
  • 360 attack investigations in 2015-16, issuing six dangerous dog licences and seizing 124 dogs, and
  • 389 attack investigations in 2016-17, issuing 14 dangerous dog licences.

The domestic animal service had impounded 848 dogs as of November 17 this year alone. Of that, 158 dogs were seized pending an investigation into an attack incident and 24 were declared dangerous dogs.

"Domestic animal services investigates all attack and harassment complaints and considers all of the circumstances leading up to and involved in an incident," the spokesman said last month.

"Where a ranger identifies an attack has occurred the attacking dog is seized whilst an investigation is undertaken.

"All attack incidents are investigated and dogs assessed to be dangerous or otherwise."

He said the severity of the incidents varied from harassment that caused no injury to aggressive biting.

The number excludes dogs that can't be found. The spokesman was unable to say how many this included.

Dog attacks reported in The Canberra Times this year:

The US embassy was linked to three separate dog attacks in the past 18 months, but investigations have been hampered by diplomatic considerations.

In addition to the statistics, The Canberra Times has been inundated with dozens of emails and phone calls about reports of dog attacks.

Han Nguyen reports on property for The Canberra Times. She joined the Times in 2017 after working as a breaking news reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald.

Emily Baker is a reporter for the Sunday Canberra Times. She previously reported on education for The Canberra Times.

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