Page 4762 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 1 November 2017

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In 2016 there was public pressure mounted to deal with dangerous dogs and dog attacks, with calls to set up an independent inquiry. The directorate refused an independent review but convened a working group to advise on improvements that could be made. Despite being told that this group would provide feedback, no information has ever been made publicly available.

On 17 January this year, after the media reported a man losing part of his hand in a dog attack, Mr Doszpot called on the Canberra community to share with him their experiences or concerns about dangerous dogs. His office was inundated with horrifying messages. Graham from Dunlop reported the killing of a small dog and the mauling of its owner. In Wanniassa, Bob reported his small dog survived an attack from an unleashed dog. Two dogs escaped from a yard in Kambah and attacked Jenny’s dog when she was with her two small children.

Mr Doszpot has been actively challenging the government on the handling of dangerous dog cases throughout this year. Unfortunately, none of Mr Doszpot’s calls for action has been supported by the Labor Party or the Greens to date.

These stories are shocking. Canberrans are being forced to watch hopelessly as their beloved pets are mauled. People are frightened to leave their homes or to allow their children to play in their own backyards, and residents are justifiably concerned for the safety of themselves and their family.

The highly publicised Toscan case is yet another example of how the legislation is not fit for purpose. We need a change. Peter Toscan was taking his small dog, Buzz, for a walk around Amaroo when three large dogs mauled Buzz without provocation. Mr Toscan recounted the horrific encounter:

… one of the dogs lunged at Buzz taking him in his jaws dragging him away … as he gave out a small yelp. The other two dogs immediately joined in the fray, ripping and tearing at him. I immediately dropped on top of the dogs, screaming and punching at them in an attempt to break their hold.

When the dogs were finally dragged away Buzz was left lifeless on the ground ripped open from his chin to his chest, skin and flesh from his neck missing. I was unashamedly sitting on the path sobbing in anguish having let my mate down … not knowing how I was going to break the news to [his wife] …

At the time, the attacking dogs were under the supervision of two dog walkers. The police fined each dog walker $350 and the dogs were sent home. The owner was not fined. The dogs were not declared dangerous. In most other states or territories those dogs would at least have been declared dangerous and have had significant restrictions placed on them. They would probably have been put down. Instead, in the ACT they are sent home without restriction.

Last week a woman from Watson lost her life after being attacked by a dog in her own home—her own dog. The dog was known to authorities after previous attacks and investigation. How did the government respond? Unfortunately, there was very little by way of government action.

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