Pet bans, jail time for irresponsible dog owners under new government crackdown

PETER MICKELBUROUGH; HERALD SUN JULY 08, 2013 12:00

EXCLUSIVE: OWNERS of dogs that attack people will be barred from keeping canines for up to a decade under tough new laws proposed by the Napthine Government.

And those caught breaching such a ban will face jail or a hefty fine.

“The community has told us loud and clear that dog attacks and irresponsible dog owners should not be tolerated,” Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said.

“Currently people found guilty of having animals that have attacked could continue to keep dogs.

“The proposed amendment will reflect the community’s expectation that there must be serious consequences and penalties for people who fail to control their animals.”

Should owners of dogs that attack face 10-year pet bans? Vote now and have your say below

Dog attack survivor Mr Tat has backed the move to ban owners.

Mr Tat was mauled by a pack of dogs for 15 minutes in a fearsome attack in Carlton in April, which was caught on film.

“In my case, I was attacked by four dogs. The owner let them play around on the street and near a park where a lot of children play,” Mr Tat said in a statement translated by his son James.

James Tat said his father supported the State Government’s proposal to increase penalties to irresponsible dog owners and to ban dangerous dogs from the streets.

The crackdown on irresponsible dog owners comes as new data obtained by the Herald Sun reveals dog attack victims with serious bite wounds have doubled in the past decade.

At the same time, police are charging dramatically fewer owners.

Almost 5000 people have been admitted to Victoria’s 38 biggest hospitals with dog bite injuries in the past decade, while another 16,600 were treated for less serious bite wounds in emergency departments, according to data from the Monash University’s Injury Surveillance Unit.

Dog bite admissions have risen from 329 in 2002-03 to 760 in 2011-12.

And children are paying the price, with more than one in four dog attack victims aged nine or younger, with the 0 to five-year-olds facing the greatest risk.


RECENT ATTACKS

2013

JUNE: A WOMAN in her 40s was left with an almost severed finger after being mauled by three dogs in Boronia. Another woman was also bitten by the dogs which were seen earlier menacing a girl.

MAY: A DOG sparked chaotic scenes when it viciously attacked another dog in the hands of its owner at a women’s football match at Lalor.

APRIL: FOUR dogs attacked 52-year-old Mr Tat as he went to move his car near his flat in Drummond St, Carlton. The frenzied 15-minute attack was captured on video.

MARCH: A DOG owner whose Staffordshire bull terrier killed a cat was convicted and fined $6603 in the Dandenong Magistrate’s Court.

FEBRUARY: A REAL estate agent Laura Scott, 27, was left traumatised and suffering serious infections in both legs after being was attacked by a dog while inspecting a property in Heidelberg West.

JANUARY: SHOP owner Bryan Stertern-Gill, 69, suffered cuts to his left arm and both legs, scratches to his chest and haematomas in his left arm and right leg after being attacked by a dog at the rear of his shop. He needed surgery on his right leg after the wounds became infected and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress.

2012

DECEMBER: A 92-year-old Ormond woman Nina McCormack was hospitalised for 10 days after being savagely bitten by a dog in a park.

NOVEMBER: CAROLINE Springs cancer survivor Jacqui Loughlin, 61, was left traumatised after one of her dogs was killed and another injured in an attack by a roaming german shepherd. PIC IN LEADER

OCTOBER: A 74-year-old Reservoir woman attacked and bitten by two dogs while sweeping her driveway. When police arrived the dogs then tried to attack them.

OCTOBER: A VICIOUS dog attack left elderly Altona Meadows resident Willy Saunders, 89, too frightened to walk her dog. Ms Saunders was bitten repeatedly on the hand as she tried to free her shitsu-cross Bobby when he was set upon by two other dogs.

SEPTEMBER: CHRISTINA Moyle received 100 stitches when a suspected pit bull cross pounced without warning and tore into her face when she and her and her husband, Wayne, were visiting friends who owned the dog.

SEPTEMBER: A CHILD was rushed to the Royal Children’s Hospital after being mauled to the upper body injuries set upon by the terrier-cross in Charles St, Kew.

AUGUST: MATHEW Camilleri, 30, whose two unregistered rottweilers attacked two people in a frenzied 20-minute mauling was fined a record $21,000 with costs. Mark Gillatt had to have a metal plate in his arm and his wife, Kylie, suffered puncture wounds from more than 20 bites after the attack in Cragieburn.

AUGUST: TWO roaming dogs left a 10-year-old girl traumatised when they attacked her shitzu-maltese cross while she was walking it in Norlane.

AUGUST: THREE dogs attacked and killed a guide dog in Ivanhoe.

JULY: LAZOR Josevski, 58, of St Albans, was fined $11,000 for the fatal attack by his pitbull-mastiff on four-year-old Ayen Chol, including $4000 for Ayen’s death, $6000 for attacking two other members of the Chol family and $1000 for having an unregistered dog.


Despite the increasing toll of dog attacks, police data shows 38 charges were laid against owners for attacks on people in 2011-12, compared with 130 in 2002-03.

Under changes to the Domestic Animals Act to be introduced to State Parliament later this year, the courts will have the ability to ban a person from owning or being in control of dogs for up to 10 years if they have been found guilty of having dogs that have attacked.

If they break that ban, they face up to two years in jail or a $34,600 penalty.

The new laws are the toughest since restricted dog breeds were introduced after the death of Ayen Chol, 4, who was fatally mauled at her St Albans home by an unregistered pit bull in August 2011.

The State Government then also granted police and local government officers power to immediately euthanase dogs acting dangerously and on the loose.

It has since increased penalties for owners of dogs proven to have attacked a person.

Nina McCormack, 92, was hospitalised this year after being attacked by a dog at Ormond.

Original plus more information, graphs and data here 

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Filed under Breed specific legislation, Dangerous dogs

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