A dog's breakfast: Almost 600 dog attacks in Mandurah in two years, but zero prosecutions

A dog's breakfast: Almost 600 dog attacks in Mandurah in two years, but zero prosecutions

There have been almost 600 reported dog attacks in Mandurah over the last two years - but the City has not prosecuted a single offending pet owner.

The Mandurah Mail reported in September 2018 there had been 1000 dog attacks reported in the City of Mandurah jurisdiction between 2013/14 and 2017/18, with five people prosecuted through the courts.

After attack victims came forward and comparisons were made with neighbouring local governments, in October 2018 the City pledged 'tougher action' on offending pet owners in the future.

However, this has not resulted in any prosecutions.

New statistics show there were 316 dog attacks reported to the City of Mandurah in the 2018/19 financial year, with 200 causing injury.

This is the most recorded in the last six years, 41 more than 2017-18, which had 273 attacks.

The City handed down 114 infringements and issued 76 cautions in 2018/19.

The last prosecution of an offending dog owner was in 2016/17. In comparison, the Shire of Murray prosecuted 34 people between 2013/14 and 2017/18.

City of Mandurah chief executive Mark Newman said following up on dog attacks was a complex issue and incidents must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

"The City is still in the process of instigating changes with the intent of taking reasonable stronger approaches," he said.

"Some attacks have already resulted in fines of up to $1600.

"The City takes dog attack offences seriously, and again reiterates that it is paramount that dog owners keep control of their pets at all times in public places, and to keep them secure in their yard.

"The City continues to promote the importance of reporting wandering dogs and dog attacks, which will hopefully reduce the incidence of attacks."

Mr Newman said the City was able to assist dog attack victims through Freedom of Information to help with any civil action they take relating to injury or vet bills.

"Following an attack, there are a number of complexities in gathering enough evidence to support the issue of an infringement notice," he said.

"Following an incident, rangers attend the location and therefore rely on information from witness statements to obtain the necessary evidence to take the appropriate action.

"It is not unusual for the offending dog or their owner to not be present at the location of the attack, or a witnesses refusing to provide statements for various reasons, which can be challenging for officers."

A spokesperson for Mandurah MP and local government minister David Templeman said the state government was reviewing the Dog Act 1976 currently.

"The McGowan government is currently reviewing the Act, including the suitability of current offences and the current maximums and minimums for fines," they said.

"Further protection could be provided by increasing the minimum fines under the Act. However, this would reduce judicial discretion and is not a matter to be considered lightly."

The current maximum penalty is a $20,000 fine or 12 months imprisonment.

Have an opinion on this issue? Send us a letter to editor@mandurahmail.com.au.