Page 4055 - Week 11 - Thursday, 21 September 2017

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I know that the RSPCA, a number of years ago, put out a fantastic book that reminds people about looking at the ways that their animals react to their surroundings. The whites of dogs’ eyes are not normally meant to be seen; it is a sign that they are afraid, worried or scared. When a dog is scared, they generally will bite, attack or defend in their head space. It is very important that we as pet owners look at how our animals are reacting in all circumstances and ensure that we keep them on tight leads and close to us when we are walking them and keep them away from circumstances that they are not used to being in.

Small children love animals; we see it all the time. It is a wonderful thing to have small children close to their pets. But dogs sometimes do not know how to manage a small child being in their face, pulling at their ears and their tail, climbing on their backs, kicking, biting and punching. A dog does not know how to respond to that and can, unfortunately, turn around and bite.

I encourage all Canberrans to remember that owning any sort of animal, particularly larger animals, is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. I commend the ACT government for the work that they are doing with this strategy to try to remind and support pet owners to look after their dogs. One of the great initiatives that we have been working very hard on is to see the building of the new dog park in Weston Creek, to allow people of that area to be able to take their dogs to an off-leash area and let them run and enjoy other animals’ company in a safe and protected environment for both the animal and the community. Dog parks around the ACT make it much easier for all of us to enjoy exercising our pets off lead in a safe environment.

I, too, would like to just take a moment to thank the staff at the domestic animal service, DAS, for all of their help over the past little while, both when I rescued my dog Ben and recently in trying to change the ownership and registration of our new dog, Charlie. The staff at DAS are incredible, caring, wonderful individuals who work very hard in what is often very difficult circumstances.

I know many members of the DAS staff, and I know some who have been involved in some of those awful dog attacks. The pressure and the toll it takes on those people must never be forgotten. I know it is difficult for the families in the dog attacks, but it is also difficult for the people who are there supporting, witnessing and having to do their jobs. We must always remain vigilant and remember the work that they do.

Thank you, Minister Fitzharris, for the work that you have done, and I thank the members of the TCCS and DAS areas for the support they give all pet owners, particularly me. I, too, would like to remind all Canberrans to love your animals, treat them well and remember that responsible pet ownership is the key to being a good pet owner. Thank you.

MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (10.28): I am in general agreement with this statement, and I think it is going in the right direction, but I am afraid that I cannot resist commenting on one bit that I totally do not understand. The statement says:

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