Dog attacks in Mandurah: Owner education and action by the authorities greatly needed

Eileen Beitmanas suffered a broken arm after she was knocked over by a dog that mauled her dog Milo.
Eileen Beitmanas suffered a broken arm after she was knocked over by a dog that mauled her dog Milo.

Over the last 12 months, the Mandurah Mail has published countless stories related to dog attacks in the region - with the crescendo featured on this week's front page.

There have been almost 600 dog attacks reported to the City of Mandurah in the last two years, but no-one has been prosecuted as a result.

While this is certainly a complex issue and every case is different, it is abundantly clear the current system of dealing with these incidents just does not work.

The last victim story we covered earlier this month was of Eileen Beitmanas, pictured. The Mandurah resident suffered a broken arm after she was knocked down by a dog that mauled her pet Milo. She was left with $3000 in vet bills.

The offending pet owner initially provided a false name, before being tracked down through the City of Mandurah's Freedom of Information process - but was hit with a measly $400 fine.

In what world is this fair?

Ms Beitmanas is left physically and emotionally shaken, out of pocket and scared the offending dog will strike again.

The dog owner gets a slap on the wrist, despite his deceit and clear inability to control the offending animal.

The July 25 front page of the Mandurah Mail.

The July 25 front page of the Mandurah Mail.

Yes, local governments have a tough time applying the legislation given the complexities of each case.

Yes, the Dog Act 1976 is currently being reviewed by the state government.

Yes, dog attacks are not only an issue in Mandurah but plenty of other places elsewhere too.

But, it's now time for two things to happen.

Firstly, our authorities need to display less bark and more bite when dealing with offenders, with the current punishments completely inadequate.

For every action there is a consequence, but in this case the punishment does not match the crime.

The City of Mandurah has pledged tougher action - it's time to act.

Secondly, as suggested by Mandurah canine behavioural therapist Holly Drage earlier this year, the lack of education and understanding from dog owners must be addressed.

With dog attacks the fault of the owner, not the animal, there needs to be some provision for pet owner education in the state government's revised legislation later this year.

Gareth McKnight is the Mandurah Mail's editor.