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Dog Owners Still Aren’t Listening

By Rupert Truscott-Hughes on April 13, 2012 in Other

Image: Peter Byrne

Are my pleas to dog owners being drowned out by the incessant barking of their poorly trained mutts or has everyone just stopped listening to me?

After penning a piece last month about some pet owners losing the plot and others being downright rude, a number of incidents have come to light that further reinforce some of my points, particularly in relation to keeping dogs on the leash in public areas.

Now I hate to kick the dead dog (so to speak) by spouting on about a similar topic for the second consecutive month, but maybe that’s just what needs to be done.

You see, in the last month, both local councils, Randwick and Waverley, have issued media releases relating to fines issued as a result of dog attacks.

Randwick City Council issued four fines to the owners of two dogs involved in an incident in Centennial Park on February 12 that left veteran Australian journalist Peter Harvey in hospital. The fines totalled $1540, though I imagine if Mr Harvey moved forward with civil proceedings the owners of the untethered mutts would be up in for a much greater amount.

Waverley Council’s release related to their prosecution of a dog owner for an offence under the Companion Animals Act 1998 that took place in October last year. At the time, the owner’s dog rushed at and bit a woman passing by in the street. The attack was unprovoked and occurred because the owner had not kept his dog under appropriate control. He was fined $1000 and the mutt must now be muzzled at all times when outside the owner’s residential premises.

Furthermore, while I rarely read the Courier these days as I’m not in the market for any more property (five houses is more than enough, particularly with a property bubble that will surely soon burst), when I walked through Clovelly recently I couldn’t help but notice the soggy cover of the Southern Courier staring at me from behind saturated plastic on the roadside where its diligent deliverers had dispensed of it. It was actually defending dog owners who had been fined for not taking proper responsibility for their pooches. Has this publication lost its mind? Has it no care for public safety (clearly not as I nearly slipped on the seven copies of the Wentworth strewn across the path into my Bondi apartment – a block of three mind you – and nearly broke my neck)?

More recently, in Clovelly two hounds (admittedly American Stafforshire Terriers) were not properly tethered and mauled not only the beloved pet of NRL chief David Gallop (a man known for his harsh stance against wild animals), they also took a chuck out of a lady’s hand who tried to help. It took more than three people to get the dogs off the poor pet they were savaging and needless to say it was traumatic for all involved.

So, if you’re an irresponsible dog owner and you cop a fine, cop it on the chin. There are plenty of off-leash areas where you can let your dogs run free. And if you feel the need to own a breed of dog that is known to be dangerous, you are an idiot and you should probably be kept on a leash yourself. And maybe it is high time that the councils took a real stand against dangerous breeds. Or shall we wait until a baby gets its face bitten off before making this decision?


  1. There is no such thing as a dangerous breed and if u think that u don’t understand dogs. Yes there are strong powerful breeds that can
    become dangerous through the fault of irresponsible and downright stupid owners . Dogs in there natural state are not aggressive it’s just that people that make them that way .

    Posted by: Matt | April 23, 2012, 9:43 AM |

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  2. It was ever thus.

    George Harrison in the late 60’s lamented in ‘I Me Me Mine’ and it seems today we have reached a zenith in self centred-ness. Like tattoos, dogs are like bleached teeth, everybody’s got them and wants to show them off. Boring!

    Posted by: GreggE | April 23, 2012, 10:00 AM |

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    • I have an old dog and she has never attacked anyone. For some people a dog is a lifeline – people living alone or without children. My little dog was attacked once by a ferocious mutt in the park and when I asked the owner to put a muzzle on it, she gave me the finger and the evil eye, saying ‘she is only a pup’!! I agree that dogs who attack have to be fined, but for those who don’t have a dog, I can feel there is a strong dislike and even hatred for dogs. Its sad.

      Posted by: Lyn | April 23, 2012, 10:45 AM |

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  3. As a parent of a toddler I’m very wary of unleashed dogs, we often go to the local parks and there are always owners letting their dogs roam free apparently oblivious of the potential risk it poses to young children running around the park land. I also get fed up of irresponsible dog owners leaving dog mess around. I was in Barraculf park the other day and within 5 seconds my son ran into one. Don’t get me wrong I’m not an anti-dog person and my son loves seeing the dogs in the park but there needs to be more consideration of others using these communal areas by their owners.

    Posted by: Bondimum | April 23, 2012, 10:09 AM |

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  4. Hey Rupe,

    Hope you’ll accept a smacked wrist from a mere Limey reader.

    Your reference to the altercation of David Gallop’s pet, and the further assault on the lady who tried to help, mentions an “American Stafforshire (sic) Terrier”.
    What I think you’re referring to a BRITISH Staffordshire Bull Terrier, known back in the UK as a pitbull.

    Back in the unenlightened Home Country, the pitbull is regarded as a dangerous animal and must be muzzled and on a leash when away from it”s home. It may interest your readers to know that, once it snaps its jaws on to a flailing limb of man or beast, it cannot unlock them until it loses its anger (or is literally throttled if you have a mind to try !)

    Keep ’em coming. Good stuff.

    Posted by: Bruce Hutton ('Nunky". UK. | April 23, 2012, 5:07 PM |

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    • If you’re going to express a view, then it helps to have at least some knowledge of the topic.

      An American Staffordshire Bull Terrier is not a British Staffordshire Bull Terrier which in turn is not a Pit Bull. Each are separate breeds, although the origin of each breed is similar. Like humans, a dog’s behaviour is largely a product of its upbringing, in particular its socialisation with people and other dogs. Any breed of dog is dangerous in the wrong hands.

      Unfortunately, bull terriers are often selected by irresponsible dog owners because of their tough appearance and strength. As such, the dogs are often treated in a way which can lead them to be aggressive. This is problem particularly in the UK. It is not a problem with the breed, it is a problem with the owners.

      So, the “unenlightened Home Country” should put more effort into dealing with its developing underclass and disenfranchised youth, rather than pit bulls. It’s clear to me which is the more “dangerous animal.”

      Posted by: Stuart | April 23, 2012, 6:07 PM |

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  5. Despite assumptions that Pearl is an evil old dog hater, nothing could be further from the truth. My pride and joy at the moment is Kerry the cat, but I regularly walk and tend to my friends’ dogs whilst they are on holiday. SO, may I make a suggestion to all those Yummy Daddies who want to look like a tough-man type via an ugly, vicious-looking dog (ie: stockbrokers, chartered accountants, bankers, lawyers) – get a BRITISH BULLDOG! They are so cuddly and gentle but ugly enough to fool your peers who are really more interested in the ASX website on their iPhone than what you actually have on the end of your leash. If that fails, get a ferrett. Those sharp teeth will ward off nasty people from the other side of Anzac Pde.

    Posted by: Pearlie | April 25, 2012, 10:07 PM |

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