Source: ABC News (Extract)
Posted: November 29, 2021

The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) will lobby the state government this week to give councils more power to prosecute the owners of dangerous dogs.

It comes as a Gold Coast woman spent four days in hospital after she and her pet were attacked by a dog while walking at Paradise Point on November 19.

Gold Coast City councillor Hermann Vorster said it was not an isolated incident.

“When you venture out of your home to enjoy a sunny day in the park it’s not the type of experience you’re expecting.

“You shouldn’t have to put up with it and something needs to be done urgently.

“We’ve been on to the state government about this issue for years and we haven’t been given the powers that we need.”

This year the Gold Coast City Council received 547 dog attack complaints between January 1 and October 11.

Councils limited by red tape 

A spokesperson for the city council’s Lifestyle and Community Committee said the Animal Management Act relating to cats and dogs prescribed two options that local governments can take when there was a dog attack.

Mr Voster said those options are to either have the dog declared as “menacing” or to have it destroyed.

“Now that can be deterrent enough for some people, but what’s lacking in the legislation is the ability for our local government to put in very severe, financial deterrents when people do the wrong thing,” he said.

Mr Vorster said the issue was brought to the LGAQ conference 18 months ago and a meeting had been secured with the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Mark Furner, for Wednesday.

“We really hope the minister is going to act on our suggestion,” Mr Voster said.

“There is a way of improving the situation and making sure people are not put at risk, or die.”  

He said the council was also seeking more powers to compel dog owners to register their pets.

“If you don’t know where dogs are you are not able to connect a dog to an owner and the enforcement of all sorts of rules becomes more difficult.”

No repercussion for bad behaviour

Animal behaviourist Nikki Logan said she supported the move to give councils the power to fine irresponsible dog owners.

“It makes people stop and think,” she said.

“If they don’t have the authority at the moment then there’s no repercussions, unless from unfortunately losing their dog.

The Gold Coast-based owner of Pesky Pooch said a threatened dog has four possible responses: fight, flight, avoidance or submission. 

“If I have any doubts on a dog I will use a muzzle,” she said.

“They don’t stop the dog from eating, drinking, breathing, doing anything other than being able to bite another dog.”

After 20 years as an animal behaviourist, Ms Logan said all dogs are capable of biting and all dogs can be educated and socialised. 

“I would rather work on a pit bull than a maltese any day,” she said.

“They’re much less likely to bite to be honest.

The GCCC said between January 1 and October 13 this year there had been 528 infringements issued for dogs not under effective control in a public place and 100 infringements for unregistered dogs.