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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (28 March) . . Page.. 1030 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

The first case is an example of a persistent problem, where the complainant has phoned on numerous occasions over a long period about vicious roaming dogs. The department has basically ignored these complaints. In the meantime, the complainant is so intimidated by her neighbour's dogs that she has installed surveillance cameras around the house so that she can check whether the animals are on the loose before going outside.

The second case, however, is a most bizarre comparison where it appears that the department has taken a dog from a family's backyard after just one complaint. The dog has been impounded for the last two weeks at a cost of $12 a day to the owners and will not be released before the matter goes before the DPP, whenever that might be. The owners have not been informed or provided with details of the complaint. However, they do know that their children were with the dog when this alleged incident occurred and they are certain that the dog did not bite anyone.

The owners have approximately eight references from neighbours supporting their case but still the department will not budge over this one complaint. The owners have been told that this will be a case of going to court or putting the dog down. The owners of this dog in fact have to seek permission to visit their dog on weekends. There has been no mediation or any other steps in the process. The dog was immediately impounded after this one complaint and taken out of the backyard, headed for death row.

Can the minister explain the inconsistency in the management of these two cases? I will provide details because I know the minister will take the question on notice.

MR SMYTH: Mr Rugendyke has offered to provide details. I will get those details off him. The handling of dogs is a vexed issue. There are always two sides to a story and often my office gets complaints where, if you listen to one side, the other side are totally at fault; and you get a vice versa situation if you listen to the other side of the story. I think, in the main, Domestic Animal Services officers often exercise the wisdom of Solomon trying to work out the truth.

In regards to both cases, I will have to seek information from the officers involved. They have discretion in the way they act and they do so in accordance with the legislation. I will get the details off Mr Rugendyke and respond as quickly as I can.

MR RUGENDYKE: Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. Could the minister also provide details of the role of the DPP in respect of this matter? I would be interested to know what process there is for keeping dogs impounded while matters are being considered by the DPP.

MR SMYTH: Again, I will get further clarification on that. But a dog taken into custody under the act can be held until the matter is resolved, as it were, by the court. I will get the details of both cases for Mr Rugendyke.

Mr Humphries: Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the notice paper.

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