Council urges caution after increase in dog attacks

Wellington Shire Council is urging pet owners to secure their animals after experiencing a 43% increase in dog attacks during the past year.

The attacks calculated include serious, non-serious and dog rush incidents. While the majority of the attacks were against other dogs or livestock, Council received 17 reports of incidents where dogs have attacked people.

In the past two months, Council has prosecuted seven serious dog attack matters in the Sale Magistrate’s Court, resulting in penalties ranging from a 12 month Good Behaviour Bond to a $1377 fine.

Children under the age of five are particularly vulnerable to dog attacks, especially at home.

Wellington Shire Council Mayor Alan Hall said man’s best friend must be adequately restrained when out walking and contained when unsupervised.

“Research from Agriculture Victoria shows that 80% of dog attack and menace incidents occur in public places as a result of animals not being adequately confined,” he said.

“These incidents therefore often take place on the footpath or road bordering the property.

“Recent dog attack incidents in Wellington certainly back up this research.

“Council officers investigate all dog attack reports and where appropriate, take action through the Magistrate’s Court.”

What to do if you are approached by an aggressive dog:

  • Stand still, don’t run.
  • Keep your hands by your side.
  • Stay quiet; try not to make any noise.
  • Avoid eye contact with the dog; look at the ground
  • Once the dog has lost interest, slowly back away.

How to approach dogs safely:

  • Always get permission from the owner to pat the dog.
  • Approach the dog from an angle, rather than directly from the front.
  • Slowly extend the back of your hand with the fingers curled under and allow the dog to sniff.
  • Stroke the dog on the side of the chest, the shoulders or under the chin (not on the top of the head).
  • Don’t continue to pat the dog if it backs away or doesn’t sniff your hand.

(Source: www.agriculture.vic.gov.au/pets/dogs)

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