A boy savagely mauled by two dogs who played tug-of-war with his body at a government housing property in 2010 has lost a case against the ACT government over the attack.
A judge found on Friday while the woman living in the house would "clearly be liable" for Jack Hartigan's injuries, the government was not.
But there had been no point in the boy taking action against the woman, because it was unlikely she'd be able to pay, the court had heard.
It means for now Jack will not be compensated for his injuries.
Justice Hilary Penfold was prompted to suggest that the cost of licensing dangerous dogs could include a contribution to an insurance scheme that could offer compensation for people injured in attacks.
She said this was an alternative to the current approach that indicated the legislature, or the community, may not have an appetite for imposing limits on keeping dangerous dogs sufficient to prevent attacks.
The real problem for the community seems to be that ACT laws allow people to keep dangerous dogs at their homes, the judge said.
She noted the relatively insignificant penalties for breaching requirements of dangerous dog licence conditions. There were also limited instances in which the government could destroy a dog.
Jack was six-years-old in October 2010 when he visited the Roe Street home in Griffith during a play date with a school friend.
The boy, his friend and two adults had waited at the door while the woman had put the dogs - two barking American Pit Bull Terriers - outside.
But once the group were inside the dogs had come storming into the living room through a door that had been opened into the kitchen.
In shocking detail the boy described what had happened.
One dog grabbed his head and the other grabbed his leg, he said.
"It was basically a game of tug-o-war between the dogs.
"And it really hurt, from all the pain of them stretching me. And then the one on my leg let go and went onto my face."
He suffered horrific injuries and had to have 17 medical procedures, including one that involved grafting skin onto his head. He lost 13 teeth, and the attack had caused him a lazy eye.
Because there was no point in suing the woman, Jack, through his parents Patrick Hartigan and Joanna Mangan filed civil action against the ACT Commissioner for Social Housing in 2015. They said the government owed the boy a duty of care and had breached it.
The court heard the government had received repeated complaints from neighbours about the two dogs in the years before the attack.
The dogs had even been impounded a couple of times.
But in a 59 page judgment published on Friday, Justice Penfold said she could not find the government as public housing lessor owed Jack a duty of care to protect him from the risk of attack by a dangerous dog.
A fundamental problem was that the government could not control the risk posed by dangerous dogs on the properties it leased, she said.
"In the end, so long as it remains within the law for a public housing tenant to keep a dangerous dog within the premises concerned, there is little that [the government] can do to ensure visitors ... are not at risk of encountering such a dog," she said.
"It would be impossible for the defendant to eliminate the risk."
She entered judgment for the government with costs.