Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 October 2018) . . Page.. 4129 ..
announced the government would consider a range of legal amendments, and extra staff were promised at domestic animal services. Where are we at now? What is the current record of the government? Are they now going to make sure our parks and streets are safe, that we and our pets are safe from attack?
On 3 July just this year a female police officer was seriously injured after being viciously attacked by a dog while doing her job. She suffered a bite to the hip, calf and hand, the latter causing nerve and tendon damage. She was admitted to hospital and had surgery. The dog was seized after the attack. As I have heard too many times, it turns out that the dog had previously caused multiple injuries after an attack on a person at the same premises less than a month earlier. And apparently the dog was not registered. The question arises: why was action not taken against the dog and its owner on 18 June? Could the serious attack on the police officer have been prevented by earlier action? This is a common pattern. A dog seized after a serious attack, it is later revealed, had previously been involved in other attacks.
I asked a question of the minister on 19 September 2018 in relation to a dog attack on Mr Daniel Meyers in Spence in 2016. Mr Meyers suffered severe injuries, including the loss of a finger, part of his hand, and nerve damage. Surprisingly, or perhaps not surprisingly, it turns out that the two dogs that attacked Mr Meyers had come to the attention of DAS previously. The dogs were not registered, and the owner had previously been issued a warning notice. One of the dogs was put down four months later, and the second dog was held by DAS for 514 days. Again, questions arise. Why was action not taken against the dogs and their owner on the earlier occasion? Of course, we now know that the dog which killed someone in Watson had also previously come to the attention of DAS on a number of occasions.
Are the government trying to solve this public health and safety issue? No, they are not. This year they have sat on a review into the management of dogs in the ACT for nearly six months. On 17 September they released their independent expert review report, which they had received in April. Perhaps I am suspicious, but I think the report was only released publicly because the Canberra Liberals were presenting the exposure draft of this bill. The government did not want to be caught out and look like they were sitting on their hands. The Maxwell review, as it is known, contains 33 recommendations. This review, together with wide public consultation, forms part of the input that I have used, that the Canberra Liberals have used, to form this bill before the Assembly today. It seems that we have to do the government’s job for them.
If you are attacked by a dog, what does the government expect you to do? If you look at the website you will find the following:
If you are attacked
If you, or your dog, are attacked by another dog, immediately phone Domestic Animal Services—
via the Access Canberra contact centre. And it gives the phone number. Whilst DAS do a great job under difficult circumstances, the problem here is that 11 per cent of urgent calls to domestic animal services about dog attacks drop out. And 62 per