'I am surprised' - Local government minister speaks out on lack of City of Mandurah dog prosecutions

Local government minister David Templeman has admitted he is surprised the City of Mandurah has not prosecuted any offending dog owners over the last two years and said a 'more forensic' approach was needed to bring owners of dangerous dogs into line.

The Mandurah Mailreported last month there had been almost 600 dog attacks in the Mandurah region over the 2017-18 and 18-19 financial years, but no court action taken by the City.

This was despite the City pledging 'tougher action' on offending dog owners in October 2018, after statistics showed there were 1000 dog attacks over a five-year period.

In comparison, over the last two years the City of Rockingham prosecuted 14 dog owners and the Shire of Murray took court action against eight.

Mr Templeman, who is also Mandurah's MP, noted the lack of court action taken by the City of Mandurah.

"I am surprised by the very few prosecutions," he said.

"I think councils should prosecute. I understand they have to go out and gather the evidence, but if they have enough evidence to prosecute, they should.

"It not only sends a message to dog owners but it also sends a message to the overall community that we have responsibilities we need to be aware of.

"Quite often the evidence is pretty stark - I just don't see why councils don't prosecute."

In July, the Mail reported on local resident Eileen Beitmanas being attacked by a rogue dog when she was taking her pet, Milo, for a walk in Mandurah.

The elderly woman was left with a broken arm and $3000 in vet bills, while the owner of the offending dog, who was tracked down after initially providing a fake name, was given a $400 fine.

Mr Templeman said he felt for Ms Beitmanas and other victims of dog attacks.

"Certainly a more forensic approach by the council may have been a more appropriate option in this case, yes," he said.

"I know that these things can be so traumatic - and that lady will never forget it.

"For many people it has a lasting effect on them. I got bitten by a dog as a 10-year-old and I still remember it - in fact I am afraid of some dogs because of that.

"I do not under-estimate the trauma of being attacked personally or having a pet attacked."

The state government is currently reviewing the Dog Act, with a period of public consultation currently open.

Mr Templeman said the response had already been "remarkable", with thousands of people submitting their views on dog ownership.

"Dangerous dogs and issues around that is a strong theme and really important," he said.

"Does it mean we may look at strengthening penalties and the interpretation of the legislation? Yes, that's all up for consideration."

To submit your opinion on the Dog Act, take the survey here.