New dog laws could mean long jail sentences

WA News ; Aleisha Orr; Aug 15 2012

Dog owners could face 10 years’ jail if their dog kills a person under proposed amendments to the Dog Act.

Local government minister John Castrilli introduced amendments to the act in Parliament last night.

The changes would mean that dog owners could face up to 10 years’ jail if their pet kills someone or puts a person’s life in danger.

The laws would also ban the sale, purchase, breeding and advertising of restricted breeds including American pit bulls.

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Mr Castrilli told Radio 6PR that all restricted breeds, would have to be sterilised within 30 days of the legislation being passed as law in Parliament.

If the amendments are accepted, local governments would also have the power to declare a dog “dangerous”.

These dogs would then be subject to the conditions of restricted breeds such as being muzzled at all times.

“We’ve put the dangerous dogs and restricted breeds into one category,” Mr Castrilli said.

“When outside they have to be muzzled at all times and wear distinctive collars, there’s a whole range of things they’ve got to adhere to when it’s a dangerous dog.”

Opposition spokesperson on local government John Hyde said he had concerns about the amendments.

He said Victoria had similar legislation to what was proposed for Western Australia and there was no proof that the laws had made an impact.

“The evidence from Victoria with similar legislation is that it hasn’t decreased serious attacks by dogs and breeds colloquially seen as dangerous,” Mr Hyde said.

“We need the government to provide the evidence that this legislation will lead to less attacks by dangerous dogs.”

He also expressed concern that those in the dog breeding sector had not been consulted.

“We need to know that these levels of fines will work as a deterrent and encourage owners to act responsibly.”

RSPCA spokesman Tim Mayne told WAtoday.com.au that the organisation supported any upgrading to laws which promoted responsible pet ownership.

He said the amendments went part of the way to doing this.

Mr Mayne predicted that many dog breeders would be unhappy about the changes in laws covering restricted breeds.

He said the laws were in response to a small percentage of dog owners doing the wrong thing and meant the other 90 per cent would be punished.

The new laws would also make microchipping of new dogs mandatory.

Original here

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Filed under Breed specific legislation, Dangerous dogs, WA

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