Dog attacks: More than 1000 reports in Mandurah over five years

There have been more than 1000 dog attacks in Mandurah over the past five years, but the city has stood by its philosophy that education for owners is more effective than punishment. 

Attacks in the City of Mandurah have increased from 223 reports in 2013/14 to 273 in 2017/18 – the highest number in the last five years.

There have been 307 infringements given to dog owners by the city since 2013/2014 but only five people have been summoned to appear in court.

In comparison, 34 people had been summoned to appear in court by the Shire of Murray in the same time period, with 189 reported attacks in the last three years. 

City of Mandurah chief executive Mark Newman said the statistics reflected the city’s stance on education over punishment.

“These statistics are a positive reflection that we are putting in practice our philosophy that educating dog owners is more effective in preventing dog attacks than punishing dog owners,” he said. 

“We think that a simplistic ‘get tough on crime’ approach with mandatory punishments and court appearances for all dog attacks would not be something our community would support.”

These statistics are a positive reflection that we are putting in practice our philosophy that educating dog owners is more effective in preventing dog attacks than punishing dog owners.

City of Mandurah chief Mark Newman

Mr Newman said every dog attack was different and varied in seriousness.

He said a number of factors were considered when deciding on a penalty including the severity, the dog’s offending history, the victim’s willingness to appear in court, substantial evidence and whether a magistrate order to euthanise was required. 

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Mr Newman said it was a priority for the victim to have their vet bills paid. “Although the payment of vet bills is a civil arrangement between the parties, we at times consider their ability to pay vet bills before we impose penalties as we don’t want to see the victim left out of pocket while we receive our fines,” he said. 

Mr Newman said only 11 dogs had attacked more than once in the past five years. 

City of Mandurah manager of statutory services Brendan Ingle said rangers were encouraging the community to report dog wanderings, to help reduce attacks.

“We’ve gone back through stats and the majority of dog attacks are when dogs have left their own property,” he said. “If we had been able to get in there early and speak to the person, it could have been avoided.”

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