I refer to the article “Council to develop a zero tolerance approach to dog attacks” (Chronicle p33 May 5) which stated that Council will develop a Responsible Pet Ownership Policy.
I see the problem as one of a failure to publicise the legal responsibility of owners.
For example: owners must prevent dogs from escaping from their property; a dog that is in a public place must be under the effective control of some competent person by means of an adequate chain, cord or leash; and, children under 16 must not walk dogs without adult supervision.
These are not council regulations, they are NSW Laws, from The Companion Animals Act 1998 No 87.
The article states: “The most likely place for a dog attack to occur on the Central Coast is on a public road or footpath”.
So, who are the offenders here?
They are people who allow their dogs to be in their front yards without a gate, unleashed, that have access to the street.
They are people who walk their dogs off-leash.
These are the source of many of the attacks, I found.
Up to now, people have not known the law because no one has told them.
Just publicising this will reduce attacks.
I worked on the Central Coast for over nine years as a canine behavioural therapist, working with over 500 dogs and their owners.
I found nearly everyone was unaware of most of The Companion Animals Act.
I was shocked at how many dogs were traumatised (owners too) by being attacked by dogs whose owners either ignored the law or didn’t know it.
The dog I was then dealing with had often become fear-aggressive because of the experience.
That dog, according to its owner, was “never the same after that” and “aggressive since the attack” etc.
Its like a virus passing from one dog to another, and now you have potentially more attacks in the community.
Council is in an ideal place to educate owners on their responsibilities.
What better place to start than to inform owners of the state laws that apply, especially the parts about securing the dog in the property and not walking them off-leash in public areas like roads and footpaths?
They have a database with all owners’ contact details, they could give out the information when the dog is registered.
People need to know.
Email, May 11
John Blackhawk, Umina Beach