There are 80 declared menacing and dangerous dogs across the Mid Coast and MidCoast Council says while the vast majority of dog owners comply with the regulations of the Companion Animals Act, recent mandatory checks of households where these animals are located has found a number of breaches.
Council's rangers have been attending the residences of the declared menacing and dangerous dogs recently to make sure all owners are complying with regulations that include appropriate fencing, a muzzle if the dog is in public, ensuring the dog is always on a lead in public and that the dog has an appropriate collar that identifies its nature.
There have been 169 dog attacks in the last 12 months and as far as MidCoast Council is concerned it is 169 too many.
"These regulations are in place primarily for the safety of the public, but compliance also ensures the safety of the dog owner as well as the safety of the dog and that's just as important," MidCoast Council's Bruce Moore said.
"Everyone expects to be able to walk, run, ride and play in their neighbourhood without fear of being attacked by a dog, and there are very clear rules that are in place to ensure this is the case.
"We don't make decisions lightly, these dogs pose a genuine risk to our community if proper due diligence isn't taken by the owners."
For a dog to be declared menacing or dangerous there are a range of incidents that could have occurred, for some it could be a series of events, for others it may be the severity of the single incident, Bruce explained.
"That means these dogs have shown a history of aggressive behaviour or a one-off attack that warrants classification and each escalation of the dog's status is determined by a panel, with an appropriate appeal process for the dog's owner.
"Dangerous dogs are the highest level of classification and without appropriate measures in place, there would be more dog attacks in our community."
The fine for not complying with the regulations set out in Section 51 of the Companions Animals Act is $1720, but council's rangers have been trying to work with dog owners to help them comply, with a warning system in place, rather than an on-the-spot fine.
In some instances, the owners of the dogs have decided that the ongoing costs associated with keeping a dangerous animal are too much for them, and the dogs have been surrendered, Bruce said.
"In these cases, it is explained to the dog owners that under the Companion Animals Act, these dogs cannot be rehomed because of their history of aggression and related incidents and therefore, unfortunately, they need to be put to sleep."
Bruce said council would continue working with the community to ensure responsible pet ownership is maintained, through the ongoing compliance checks as well as educating the community about the importance of registering and microchipping their animals and reporting any incidents of aggression to Council Rangers.
"The community comes first and we know most pet owners do the right thing, but we need to ensure all pet owners are on board."
For further information on responsible pet ownership, head to council's website https://www.midcoast.nsw.gov.au/Recreation/Pets-Animals
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