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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?