Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 10 April 2018) . . Page.. 1149 ..
and holding them responsible for their dogs’ actions. Not to do so would risk public safety and animal welfare.
We are making sure that it is not just the owner of the dog who is now responsible for its actions. If you are caring for or keeping a dog for someone else, you will be responsible for its actions. This bill allows for control orders on people who are not the registered owner but who are in possession of the dog. This will allow for the dog to be controlled but also allow for the registered owner to keep the dog safe while working to ensure compliance with a control order.
Control orders are one of the most important tools in regulating dangerous dogs. They let us prescribe to the owner, or carer, the conditions the dog can be kept in and the conditions that must be met for it to interact with the surrounding environment. Control orders can require extra fencing to stop a dog jumping over, a muzzle when the dog is in public, or even a requirement for the dog to be contained on a property, as well as many other measures that dangerous dog owners must comply with.
Owners of dangerous dogs are required to hold a special licence that is granted by a request in writing to the registrar. This licence requires an annual fee to help maintain the system of dangerous dog management. This helps our rangers to proactively patrol our communities and to make compliance checks on dangerous dogs. People who are negligent owners of dangerous dogs and who breach control orders risk their dog being taken away for good. We cannot allow public safety to be jeopardized by lax ownership.
Also included in these changes are a definition of breeding, covering insemination of dogs and the weaning of pups, to close loopholes that may be exploited by unscrupulous breeders and illegal puppy farms. Puppy farms, or factories as they are also known, can be an incredibly cruel exercise: dogs used as breeding machines to create puppies for profit; dogs often kept in confined spaces restricted to breeding and not being able to play or go outside. This leads to poor social and behavioural outcomes for the dogs and their puppies. This can of course have flow-on effects later in life, contributing to dog attacks.
To help support better social outcomes for these dogs and their puppies, these amendments will also allow for dogs to be impounded in animal rescue facilities instead of just the pound. While the pound does great work, it can at times be full or not suitable. These animal rescue facilities can help improve the social and behavioural outcomes of puppies by giving them space to play and socialise with other animals while taking the burden off the pound.
I have had many constituents write to me or come to me at street stalls to talk about dog attacks. Many ask me, “What do I do if I witness a dog attack?” I say to them, and to anyone who is watching today, that if a dog attack is in progress, call ACT police. Dog attacks can be life threatening and emergency services are best placed to deal with life threatening situations. If, for whatever reason, it is no longer urgent, contact domestic animal services through Access Canberra. The best way for the government to manage dangerous dogs is through public reporting to get descriptions of dangerous dogs and to identify hotspots.