Ararat Rural City Council is imploring residents to step up and be better dog owners after 16 dog attacks – including one on a person – were reported since Coronavirus restrictions began in March.
The 16 dog attacks have included one instance of injury to a person who required medical treatment.
The incidents also include one dog that had to be euthanised after attacking livestock, and three dogs that had to be treated by a vet for puncture wounds and lacerations that required stitches after being attacked by other dogs.
Ararat Rural City Council CEO Dr Tim Harrison said it was extremely disappointing that there had been so many dog attacks in such a short period of time.
Dr Harrison said Council officers believed the attacks had happened because there were more dogs out and about due to people being at home and being able to exercise their pets more frequently due to Coronavirus restrictions.
“More people are walking their dogs more but obviously some do not have adequate control over their animals,” he said.
“Under Council’s local law, dog owners must have control over their dogs at all times while out walking – this effectively means having them on a leash at all times. If you cannot control your dog even when it is on a leash, you should not be taking it for a walk.”
Under legislation, Council has the power to issue fines for each incident of up to $990 to owners and order the euthanising of dogs that attack people and other animals. Owners could also be subject to court action and other costs such as vet or medical bills.
Dogs being “at large” – roaming the streets unattended – is also subject to fines under the Council’s local law.
“These dog attack figures are extremely disappointing – Council usually records one or two dog attacks a month so to have 16 reported in just two months is unacceptable,” he said.
“Council is extremely disappointed in the owners of dogs who don’t have control over their animals, and we implore anyone with a dog with this kind of nature to think seriously about the consequences before taking them outside their property.”
Dog owners whose pets attack, rushes at or bites a person or other animal are subject to fines that range from $165 through to many thousands of dollars depending on the severity of the case.
Dr Harrison said it was extremely important for dog owners to know their responsibilities under the law.
“Most people know their pet as a placid and loved family member and are distressed if their dog attacks a person or another dog,” he said.
“But as a dog owner, you have the responsibility to ensure your pet is regularly socialised and trained properly so that these situations don’t happen.”
Dog owners must also register their pet with the Council, and pay fees each year, with failure to do so also attracting fines. Pet registration ensures animals can be returned to their owner quickly and safely it they escape.