Minister asks Mandurah community for feedback on dog attack legislation

The local government minister has asked the community for their opinion on dog ownership legislation, after statistics revealed more than 1000 Mandurah attacks have been reported in the past five years.

The Mandurah Mail highlighted the prevalence of the issue, after attacks in the City of Mandurah had increased from 223 reports in 2013/14 to 273 in 2017/18 – the highest number in the last five years.

But the city stood by its philosophy that education for owners is more effective than punishment. 

In August, the state government announced it would begin phase one of a “major review” into the Local Government Act 1995, in an attempt to “modernise” and “reduce red tape”.

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Local Government Minister David Templeman told the Mail the “ambitious legislative reform” would impact dog ownership laws and seek to stop puppy farming – a state government commitment. 

Mr Templeman said a review of the Dog Act 1976 was also planned for 2019.

“I am keen to hear the views of the community on ways the act can be improved,” he said.  

“Key legislative reform in these areas will strengthen the capacity of local government in Western Australia, to deliver for their community.”

I am keen to hear the views of the community on ways the act can be improved.

Local Government Minister David Templeman

RSPCA WA chief executive officer Ben Cave said dog attacks were a “serious human and animal welfare problem” which required “effective long-term solutions”.

But he said the organisation did not agree dogs should be declared dangerous on the basis of their breed or appearance.

“The RSPCA does not believe that breed-specific legislation is in any way effective in preventing or reducing dog attacks or in protecting the public from dangerous dogs,” he said.

“Each individual dog should be assessed based on their behaviour."

Dogs should be trained from an early age to be socialised with children and other animals.

RSPCA WA chief executive officer Ben Cave

Mr Cave said dog owners could do a handful of things to prevent or minimise the risk of dog attacks. 

“Owners should register, microchip and ID tag their pets to ensure lost dogs are off the streets and reunited with their owners as quickly as possible,” he said. 

“By law, all dogs in WA must be microchipped once they are three-months-old.

“Also, desexing commonly reduces behaviour problems, such as roaming and aggression in males.

“In females, desexing may reduce risk of fights relating to mating behaviour.”

Mr Cave said dogs should be “appropriately restrained” when out in public and kept an eye on by their owner.

“Dogs should be trained from an early age to be socialised with children and other animals, and should have sufficient enrichment when left alone,” he said.

“If you have children, teach them to safely and happily be around dogs.”

Do you have an opinion on dog attack legislation?

Email a letter to editor.mandurahmail@fairfaxmedia.com.au.