Tighten bad dog law: MP

Newcastle Herald;  BY DAMON CRONSHAW; 06 Jun, 2012

CHECK LEAD: Vicious dogs.

DANGEROUS dog laws should be toughened so councils have more power to protect the public, Charlestown MP Andrew Cornwell says.

Mr Cornwell, a veterinarian, chairs the state government’s Companion Animals Taskforce, which will begin considering dangerous dog laws in about six weeks.

The Newcastle Herald reported recently about a savage dog attack on Mirrabooka’s Natalie Southam, 19.

Two American Staffordshire terriers jumped two two-metre fences and attacked Ms Southam on Friday, May 11, leaving her with wounds to her ear, back of the neck and arms that needed 19 stitches.

Lake Macquarie City Council said it did not have enough evidence to declare the dogs as dangerous, despite repeated complaints.

Animal welfare groups say some councils are more willing to declare dogs as dangerous than others, despite concerns about legal challenges.

When a dog is declared dangerous it must be kept in a secure enclosure.

The Companion Animals Act states a council officer can declare a dog dangerous “on the officer’s own initiative or on the written application of a police officer or any other person”.

But Mr Cornwell said problems emerged when such declarations were challenged in court.

He said a judgment in the Court of Appeal last April showed the system was “potentially flawed” and changes were needed.

The case involved Tyra Kuehne, 4, being mauled to death by one or more of five pig-hunting dogs in Warren, about 120 kilometres from Dubbo in July 2006.

The Court of Appeal overturned an earlier decision in the NSW District Court to award damages against Warren Shire Council for failing to declare the dogs as dangerous.

Mr Cornwell said laws needed to be changed to “a system where council rangers have more certainty that an action will be watertight”.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Tighten bad dog law: MP

  1. Christine Tindall

    Laws should be a lot more strict for owners of unregistered dangerous dogs. My daughter’s 2 Pug Dogs were killed in their own backyard by 3 Staffordshire Terriors who jumped the back fence on 14 may 2013, it has been devasting. The Maitland City Council has find the owner $500.00 for each dog and told my daughter that is all they can do. My daughter has been left with a massive vet bill. The Council had been to the owners property 4 times about these dogs, who had attacked and killed before. The attack was so great that the Ranger had to take Stress Leave. If the Rangers had more power to seize these dogs earlier this would not have happened. The laws need to be changed to make these owners more responsible and so the Councils do no have to spend the ratepayers money on lengthy court costs. The laws should be strictor on these people owning dogs not just give 5 years from owning a dog, maybe a lifetime ban should be imposed as this lady definitely was not a responsible dog owner and not fair for my daughter who was.

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