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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 10 April 2018) . . Page.. 1150 ..

Canberrans are well aware of the dangers posed by dangerous dogs and are, in many cases, leading the debate in these areas. But while we can impose all the fines and penalties we want, education is our most important tool to change behaviour. Raising community awareness is critical to our success in stopping future dog attacks. I am pleased that the ACT government is making public education a priority in this issue.

The paws for thought program that has been rolled out by the ACT government promotes responsible pet ownership and a culture change through education. So far the campaign has held a number of community information stalls across Canberra with more to follow this year in conjunction with other education strategies.

Paws for thought deals with the essentials of dog ownership—getting your dog de-sexed, microchipped and registered—while informing people about the requirements of having a dog in public. There are many places where you can let your dog off leash in our city, including our great dog parks. For my constituents in Yerrabi, you can most definitely find one in Casey and another in Forde. But it is important to keep your dog restrained when required as well.

The Domestic Animals Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 will also make minor changes to align the dangerous dog and racing greyhound amendments passed by the Legislative Assembly late last year. The bill will ensure that the principles of responsible pet ownership and public safety that were introduced through the dangerous dog amendments equally apply to the new greyhound provisions that are set to take effect on 30 April 2018.

The government committed to review the legislation in the recently released ACT animal welfare and management strategy to ensure that it is best practice and up to date. These amendments show that we have acted to strengthen the management of dangerous dogs to protect Canberra residents. I thank the minister for bringing forward these amendments and ask all members to support their introduction.

MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra) (11.31): I rise today to support this bill. Mr Assistant Speaker, a dog can be a man’s, or indeed a woman’s, best friend. They become part of our families and they enrich our lives, as you well know. It has now even been proven that dogs are able to read human emotions, and we know that they help our emotional and physical wellbeing, too. So there are plenty of reasons why dog owners feel such a special connection with their canine buddies.

Introducing a dog into your life is not a decision that should be taken lightly, however. It can be a resource-intensive step to take, as our pets need a lot of love and attention, and we need to be responsible in all of our dealings with them. Sadly, the story does not always end happily. Some dog breeds are known to exhibit more aggressive behaviour, but we know that some dogs in a certain environment might surprise us with their behaviour. We do know that irresponsible pet ownership can lead to any dog having a violent or aggressive disposition.

This government knows that dangerous dogs can pose a real risk to the safety of our community, and we are committed to ensuring that we have the necessary tools to

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