Page 1206 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 29 March 2017

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real-world problems faced by many people in our suburbs every day. The Canberra Times has now also reflected the deep community concerns. On 6 February 2017 it had an article headed “Wake up call is overdue for capital dog owners”. Of course last weekend the Sunday Canberra Times hit home in an editorial headed “Action on dog attacks needed”. It said:

The horrific attack on an elderly dog in Gungahlin is another reminder that the territory has a serious problem with pet ownership and the laws that exist around dangerous dogs.

What will it take before both lawmakers and pet owners take appropriate action to stop the disturbingly regular occurrences of dogs attacking people and other canines?

There might not be an easy solution to be found but it’s an issue that we as a territory need to tackle.

(Time expired.)

MS FITZHARRIS (Yerrabi—Minister for Health, Minister for Transport and City Services and Minister for Higher Education, Training and Research) (11.28): I thank Mr Doszpot for bringing this motion before the Assembly today, and acknowledge the presence in the gallery of the Toscans and the other gentleman whom Mr Doszpot welcomed. I certainly acknowledge the seriousness of the matters before us today.

This is a serious matter for our territory. Animal issues in the ACT are the subject of considerable community debate, specifically, today, dangerous dogs and how we can best manage them. I am pleased today to have the opportunity to highlight the government’s commitment to animal welfare in Canberra, and focus on some of the work we are doing in this space that relates to dogs, to domestic pets, and to the welfare of other wildlife and livestock.

I would like to make very clear that dog attack issues are serious, complex and distressing, whether a dog is attacking another dog or attacking a person. With so many Canberra families owning dogs, attacks are one issue many people will have an opinion on and an experience with. As I indicated yesterday and during the previous sittings when we passed legislation to enact further changes to our domestic animal legislation, and as I indicated in my ministerial statement last year, animal welfare is a priority for me as the Minister for Transport and City Services.

I will talk more broadly to the draft animal welfare and management strategy that was released today, which I have foreshadowed for some time but, in the first instance, I want to address some of the specifics of the motion today.

Mr Doszpot has highlighted some statistics from 2015-16 that relate to people treated for dog attacks in our hospitals, and the injuries for which they were treated. These are, of course, a cause of concern, but it is difficult to draw specific inference as to where or under what circumstances these incidents took place. They might be related to an incident in someone’s home by their own beloved pet or they could relate to an incident in a public area. Indeed, given the regional nature of our hospitals, they may

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