By Renee Bogatko, Image Credit – Jaromir Chalabala/123rf.com
Owners of dangerous dogs face greater fines and penalties, under new laws which have passed in the ACT Assembly.
The Government put forward a suite of amendments to crack down on irresponsible dog ownership, in support of the late Steve Doszpot’s bill.
The tougher reforms include a mandatory rule that a dangerous dog is destroyed if it attacks and kills or causes serious injury to a person, unless there’s special mitigating circumstances.
Licence fees for owners of dangerous dogs will also increase from $186.50 to $750, to ensure owners are serious about putting protections in place.
Irresponsible owners who can’t control their dog also face ownership bans and they’ll also be obligated to provide their details to victims in the event of an attack, or face tough penalties.
A ‘public safety test’ will be introduced to ensure apprehended dogs aren’t returned to owners before proper investigations are carried out.
If there is a risk to public safety, a dog can be destroyed, even if it hasn’t attacked.
“That’s an important preventative measure and I think it’s really important we have measures in place through our legislation and enforcement which aren’t just about responding to an attack,” City Services Minister Meegan Fitzharris said.
“We know the vast majority of dog owners love their pets and abide by the rules. However, there are some people that aren’t doing the right thing and they are putting people at risk.”
The Canberra Liberals said while they’re pleased to see Steve Doszpot’s bill pass in the Assembly, they’re disappointed the Government watered down some of the measures.
“In the Canberra Liberals bill, a dog must be seized and impounded during an investigation into complaints of injury, serious injury or death of a person. In cases where it is found that a dog has attacked, causing the serious injury or death of a person, the Registrar must destroy the dog,” Opposition Leader, Alistair Coe, said.
“The Government’s amendments provide too much discretionary power to the Registrar. For example, the Registrar may choose to approve a license for a dog even if it is known to pose an unacceptable risk to the safety of the public. This is a major point of difference between our bill and the Government’s amendments.”
But Mr Coe did acknowledge, the bill is a step forward.
The changes follow a series of dog attacks in the capital, including the recent case involving a woman who was killed by her dog at her Watson home in October.
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