When Dogs Attack

Very recently you may have seen on Facebook, on TV or heard on the radio of a dog attack on Semaphore Beach.

Without going into too much detail, Mr Alan Timms’ posted a photo on Facebook of his very damaged (but thankfully recovering) dog after it was allegedly attacked by an off leash dog on March 19th.

But it didn’t happen at Semaphore Beach. It happened on Semaphore Park Beach, which is in Charles Sturt Council area, and they are following up the matter, and doing the best they can I am sure.

And no aspersions on Mr Timms, because if I had just gone through what he did, I am not sure I would be able to post the correct state of Australia, let alone beach.

He later reposted, with the exact location of Semaphore Park Beach, as below:

However, this didn’t stop a massive howl of protest from people directed at our Council, some of which was sent to me.

Well, I will tell you what I am going to do about it, because I already have – last year I instigated in Council a review into our Council’s policy of dog handling in public.

At the moment we have a policy that allows people to pretty much walk their dog/s anywhere on Council property (unless signposted otherwise) with their dog “off leash” as long as being under “effective control”.

Unfortunately, it appears “effective control” for some dog owners means “I will let my dog harass other dogs, people, other animals and generally do anything it wants and I can’t stop it”. Wrong.

It means your dog, when off leash, can be controlled by you so that it does not harass other dogs, animals or humans in the vicinity.

For reasons I cannot explain, the number of dog attacks are on the rise, almost all from people walking their dogs “off leash”. If your dog attacks another one on public property, it cannot, by definition, be under “effective control”.

This is from the Dog & Cat Management Board about dog handling in public:

– Your dog must be exercised on a leash of no more than two metres unless you are in a designated off-leash area.
– When in an approved off-leash area, your dog must be kept under “effective control”. I.e. responds to commands, comes when called, etc.
– Do not allow your dog to approach other dogs or people. Even well socialised dogs can attack with little provocation.
– Consider getting your dog desexed. Desexing has many health benefits, including reduced aggression.
– You should consider enrolling your dog in a recognised training program. This builds a strong bond between you and your dog, and ensures your dog responds well to commands when off-leash.
– It is a criminal offence to allow your dog to chase, harass or attack a person or other dog.

PAE is one of the few Councils that historically allows dogs to be walked “off leash” almost everywhere, whereas most Councils only allow dogs “off leash” in a small number of parks, especially dog parks.

This policy also allows people to walk their dogs “off leash” on our beaches during certain hours of the day.

Last year I thought it was time to review this policy as it had not been looked at, that I can recall, in my entire time on Council, and it deserves to be seriously reviewed. Previously it had just formed part of our Dog and Cat Management Plan but was not specifically reviewed as part of it.

Council released the following statement today:

Over the weekend we were made aware of a dog attack which occurred on a local beach. We appreciate the concern of residents, and advise that as this happened within the City of Charles Sturt their Community Safety Officers are investigating the incident further. 
We have recently been working on our 2017-2022 City of PAE Animal Management Plan which will be released for public consultation soon. We welcome you to have your say on a range of issues including leashes on beaches.
If you have any concerns relating to dogs within the City of PAE, please email customer.service@portenf.sa.gov.au or give us a call on 8405 6600. The City of PAE would like to take the opportunity to remind residents that Community Safety Officers actively patrol our beaches.

When it comes time for public consultation, please have your say on this.

I too, hope the owner of this dog is caught, and if found guilty, cops a hefty fine including a criminal conviction, and is banned from owning a dog; but the best cure for a dog attack is prevention.

My thoughts for now are with Mr Timms and his bluey.

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