Dog attack prosecutions: Rockingham and Murray take court action 22 times in two years

VICTIM: Eileen Beitmanas and her pet Milo were attacked by a dog in Mandurah earlier this year, with the offending owner handed a $400 fine. Photo: Carla Hildebrandt.
VICTIM: Eileen Beitmanas and her pet Milo were attacked by a dog in Mandurah earlier this year, with the offending owner handed a $400 fine. Photo: Carla Hildebrandt.

The City of Rockingham and Shire of Murray are seemingly more willing to take stern action against offending dog owners than the City of Mandurah, with 22 prosecutions by the neighbouring local governments over the last two years.

The Mandurah Mailreported last week there had been 589 dog attacks in the City of Mandurah's jurisdiction over the last two years, but no-one had been taken to court or prosecuted as a result.

This follows on from statistics compiled in 2018, where there were about 1000 attacks in Mandurah over a five-year period and five prosecutions by the City.

The City pledged 'tougher action' on offending dog owners in October 2018 and stated last week the organisation was still in the process of instigating changes, with the intent of taking stronger approaches in the future.

Statistics provided by the City of Rockingham show there were 497 dog attacks in its jurisdiction during the 2017/18 and 18/19 financial years.

Despite there being almost 100 fewer incidents in Rockingham than Mandurah, the City prosecuted 14 dog owners.

If all owners complied with their responsibilities, the likelihood of attacks would be negligible.

Shire of Murray chief executive Dean Unsworth

In the Shire of Murray, a total of 134 dog attacks were recorded across the two-year period, the Peel local government confirmed.

The Shire took court action and proceeded with prosecutions against eight dog owners in this timeframe.

Shire of Murray chief executive Dean Unsworth said it was difficult to prosecute dog owners due to a number of factors.

"The number of reports received annually, categorised as "dog attacks" are in essence higher than the enforcement activities due to not being able to identify and/or prove a dog/s involvement in some instances, despite an investigation by Ranger Services," he said.

"Where prima facie evidence is available that supports a "dog attack" occurrence, Ranger Services take action either by modified penalty or by direct prosecution under the Dog Act 1976."

Mr Unsworth said the responsibility for dog attacks sat squarely with the animal's owner.

"Dog owners have a responsibility to their pets and fellow community members to ensure their canine companions are registered and microchipped and when in a public place, wear collars with their registration tags securely attached," he said.

"It is further important that dogs remain under the control of competent persons at all times.

"When in an approved designated exercise (off-leash) area, a dog should be accompanied by a competent person capable of controlling the dog, who is liable for the control of the dog, is carrying a lead and is capable of attaching the lead to the dog.

"An owner's responsibility is further extended to ensuring that their pets are securely and comfortably confined within the premises where the animals are kept.

"If all owners complied with the above responsibilities, the likelihood of attacks would be negligible."