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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (28 November) . . Page.. 4952 ..


address today, because we do care about the safety of Canberrans. It is a core responsibility of government to keep its citizens safe. So we are not looking the other way while dog attacks in Canberra skyrocket. We are not sitting back and doing nothing while dog attacks in Canberra skyrocket. We are looking at ways to reduce the number of dog attacks and to encourage responsible dog ownership but doing this in a way that does not penalise the vast majority of Canberrans, because the vast majority Canberrans are doing the right things.

They are responsible dog owners and we need to ensure that that continues. We need to specifically target those people who are doing the wrong thing, not adopt a broadbrush approach that reaches everyone. Those people already doing the right thing need to be rewarded and encouraged and that group of people doing the right thing needs to grow. The small group of people doing the wrong thing needs to decrease. It needs to diminish.

Less than two weeks ago we saw an article in the Canberra Times about a dog attack, where a Canberra woman said that she frantically tried to save her cavoodle as it was being mauled by a stray dog in Ngunnawal. She said, "I was the most traumatised I have ever been in my life." These are the types of phrases that I have heard over and over again from people who have been the subject of these dog attacks.

I would like to acknowledge the hard and difficult work of the staff at domestic animal services. I have said it before and I will say it again: it is a difficult job. Most of us would not want to do that job. It involves going to reports of dog attacks where you might find people or dogs with horrific injuries. You potentially have to deal with a vicious dog on the loose. It has to be managed. You have to deal with very upset people—the dog owners, witnesses, anyone nearby. It is a really tough job. They need legislative support to do their job well. They need the tools to do their job.

I am sure I am not exaggerating when I say that we all love our dogs. We want the best for our dogs and our other pets. That is why dealing with dog attacks properly and appropriately is so important. It is a safety and health issue for Canberra residents but it is also an animal welfare issue for those animals—especially dogs, but not only dogs—that are attacked and have horrific injuries. It is an animal welfare issue as well as a personal health and safety issue.

We have to be responsible and respectful of other people and their pets. That is why we are looking at this legislation today as one more step on the way to addressing the issue of dangerous dogs and to encourage responsible dog management. Removing registration fees for people who have completed approved training with their dog, removing barriers to relinquish dogs, and doubling the charge to keep a dangerous dog are ways that we can help, encourage and support Canberrans in the journey towards better dog management.

We have consulted widely on these changes, as well as other changes that we have proposed. We will continue to do that and we will continue to bring more legislation to this Assembly to ensure that Canberrans and their pets are safe when walking the streets. While the government appears to remain reluctant to address the growing issue of dangerous dogs, we are happy to bring forward this legislation today as yet


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