Animal Rights

Pit Bull Attack Sparks Tough New "Irresponsible Dog Owner" Laws

| by Denise A Justin

The fatal mauling of a 4-year-old girl by a neighbor’s Pit Bull that followed her Mother into the house in Melbourne in August 2011 triggered demand in Queensland for severe financial penalties and jail time  for irresponsible dog owners. http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/animal-rights/pit-bull-mayhem-australia-kills-girl-injures-mother-and-child

News.com.au reports that new proposed laws include a prison penalty for negligent dog owners, in addition to the current AU law which allows dog owners to be fined up to $30,000 if their animal gets out and attacks. 

“If a dog owner does not have a fence or an appropriate fence - or the guard dog they have is inappropriate – they will soon face jail time if their dog attacks, under the new proposed legislation.".  http://www.news.com.au/new-queensland-laws-include-prison-penalty-for-negligent-dog-owners/story-e6freoof-1226167504458

An August 18 poll in the CourierMail.com received a total number of 4,149 responders to the question,Should dog owners be charged over attacks?” The results were 93.15% Yes and only 6.85% No.

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Current laws allow for manslaughter convictions under the Victorian-government criminal code, but Attorney General Paul Lucas announced he wanted a specific provision for "irresponsible dog owners."

"If owners are not properly controlling their pet and it maims or kills a child or an adult, then they could be criminally liable for their action," he stated.

The draft legislation contains provisions that owners will have to manage their dogs and will take into consideration past conduct in any incident in which the dog is loose or attacks a child or adult.  The dog’s training and its temperament; whether the restraint of the dog, if any, was appropriate in the circumstances, and whether the type of dog used to protect people or premises was appropriate, would all be factors in enforcement, according to the report.

By wording it in this manner responsible dog owners would not be mistakenly charged under the law. "The amendment is not intended to cover situations where owners have taken all steps to ensure a dog is secure and safely managed,” Lucas said. 

But where a dog is left to roam the streets, and an owner has taken no steps to control the animal or ensure it is appropriately enclosed, then under this amendment the owner could be criminally liable if the dog attacks or kills someone and face up to 10 years in jail," he stated.

Pit Bull Attacks have Caused Bans in One-Third of Councils

A report in July by The Daily Mail disclosed that more than 2,500 dog attacks a year are being reported in Queensland, which averages 50 a week, with about 20% of victims under five years of age.

Following the tragic mauling of little Ayen Choi, her five-year-old cousin and the aunt who tried to save them, it was revealed that over one-third of Queensland's 73 councils have banned American Pit Bulls or will not issue a new registration for the breed, according to the Herald Sun. More than 1900 dangerous, restricted or menacing dogs are registered in Queensland. 

But legislation has also been introduced in order to control how "restricted" dogs can be kept:

--They require a permit to be issued by the local council and the dogs must be kept in a child-proof, secure enclosure with walls at least 1.8m (6 feet) high if the dog weighs more than 8kg (22 lbs.).

--Owners must also display a sign alerting the public to the existence of a restricted dog on the property, and keep them muzzled while in public.

--They must  be spayed or neutered.

However, councils also have the right to ban the breed.

Brisbane City Council outlawed the breed, its cross breeds and offspring in 1996.

Other southeast Queensland councils have followed suit