Mercury, Tasmania, MATT SMITH | April 22, 2013
DOG owners have been put on notice with the State Government warning tough new laws on dangerous dogs are on the cards.
The call comes as the first new amendment to the Criminal Code, that makes a person who does not take appropriate precautions to control a dog liable for up to 21 years in prison, heads to the Upper House.
The new amendment places a dog in the same category as anything that could put a life in danger including weapons.
Attorney-General Brian Wightman said the amendment contained within the Crimes (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill included extending the definition of anything that could endanger human life to animals.
“Therefore, the duty to take precautions and due care in the management of anything which can endanger human life now includes the management of dogs,” Mr Wightman said.
He said the new law would bolster existing provisions under Tasmania’s Dog Control Act 2000 for dangerous dogs.
“I sincerely hope we never have to see this clause of the Criminal Code used in Tasmania, but I believe it needs to be there to send the message to owners of such dogs that it is their responsibility to control them at all times, and a failure to do so which causes harm to another person will be punishable as a criminal offence.”
Mr Wightman said yesterday a fatal mauling on a Victorian four year-old, Ayen Chol in 2011, had convinced him that tougher penalties were needed for owners of dangerous dogs who failed to control their pets.
“It is a difficult lesson … to learn when a little girl loses her life in such a dreadful circumstance,” he said.
Mr Wightman said he was also struck by an article in theMercury in August last year that quoted Royal Hobart Hospital head plastic surgeon Frank Kimble saying his team responded to two or three major dog bite injuries each year.
“The article reported that these injuries required extensive surgery and often led to disfigurement,” he said.
“As a dog owner myself, I accept that the vast majority of dog owners are responsible and law-abiding carers of their pets, but as Attorney-General, I want to ensure that the safety of our community is reinforced with tough penalties that may help avoid a tragic dog attack.”