Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 13 Hansard (1 November) . .
Since the Labor-Greens government has refused to take the concerns of the Canberra community seriously, the Canberra Liberals, through Steve Doszpot, have taken the first steps in closing the gaping holes in our legislation that allow dangerous dogs to remain on our streets. This bill toughens up the law to protect the public from dangerous dogs. It provides a clearer distinction on the handling of complaints about dog attacks and harassment by other dogs.
The spectrum of harassment, injury, serious injury and death of a person is addressed in section 53A to 53C of our proposed legislation. In each case the Registrar of Domestic Animal Services is given clear instructions to investigate complaints and to give written notice of decisions to the complaint, the keeper of the dog and, importantly, to neighbours as well.
The bill is about action. A dog must be seized and impounded during an investigation into complaints of injury, serious injury or death of a person. It must be seized. It must be impounded. In cases where it is found that a dog has attacked, causing serious injury or death, the registrar must destroy the dog.
For lower levels of injury to a person the registrar may destroy the dog or, if not, must issue a control order to the keeper of the dog. The registrar must also declare the dog to be dangerous. Applications for a dangerous dog licence will require the payment of a significant annual fee by the licence holder.
The registrar may also issue control orders in the case of harassment. Control orders can include secure fencing, fence inspections, training courses for the dog and keeper and any other conditions as the registrar considers appropriate. Exceptions to these actions are clearly prescribed in the legislation.
Comparable direction is given to the registrar for handling complaints about dog attacks causing serious injury or the death of an animal. Under this bill, a dog that causes the death of another dog must be destroyed.
The bill I present today is well constructed and a genuine attempt to stop dangerous dogs being released back into the community. This legislation has sound administration principles to ensure that justice is served. The owners of dangerous dogs need to be held accountable for the behaviour of their animals. These laws have become necessary due to the lack of action by the government under the present act and the consequent flouting of the law by an irresponsible minority of dog owners.
At its core this legislation is about rebalancing justice when it comes to dangerous dogs in the territory. We cannot continue to have a situation where dangerous dogs are allowed to roam our streets. We cannot have a situation where we have dogs in our community that have caused serious injury or have killed other dogs yet are released back into our neighbourhood. This legislation will change that.
Ownership laws must put safety first. They must put our community first. The time has come to put an end to the ACT's apparent policy of tolerance towards dangerous dogs. For too long we have had laws in the territory that have been geared in favour of
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