How tough new laws will put the bite on bad dog own­ers

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - BEN PIKE

THE own­ers of dogs that at­tack hu­mans will feel the bite of much harsher fines un­der tough new laws pro­posed by the state govern­ment.

Changes to the An­i­mal Com­pan­ion Act due later this year will give coun­cils the power to more than dou­ble on-the-spot fines for the own­ers of dogs that at­tack hu­mans, tak­ing it from $550 up to $1320. And those who break the rules around con­trol­ling, sell­ing or buy­ing dan­ger­ous dogs will also face much steeper penal­ties, in­creas­ing from $1320 up to $1760.

“In­creased on-the-spot fines for dog at­tacks are part of the govern­ment’s ef­forts to con­tinue to re­duce in­ci­dents and in­crease safety for peo­ple and an­i­mals,” Lo­cal Govern­ment Min­is­ter Gabrielle Up­ton said.

“In­creased penal­ties will help to change be­hav­iours as a high pro­por­tion of at­tacks oc­cur when dogs are not un­der the con­trol of the owner or an­other com­pe­tent per­son.”

The new reg­u­la­tions come amid a spate of hor­rific dog at­tacks this year, which claimed the life of one-year-old In­verell girl Kamil­lah Jones and badly in­jured three-year-old New­cas­tle boy Tom Hig­gins.

Po­lice have not laid any charges against the In­verell dog’s owner, who is Kamil­lah’s grand­mother. The dog was de­stroyed soon after the in­ci­dent.

In Tom’s case, a great dane ripped part of his ear off while he was rid­ing his bike in May­field, near New­cas­tle.

New­cas­tle City Coun­cil de­stroyed the dog the fol­low­ing day but would not com­ment on the fine.

As part of the pro­posed changes, which will go on ex­hi­bi­tion from to­mor­row, the state govern­ment is also look­ing to in­crease re­hom­ing rates for home­less cats and dogs.

Peo­ple can get a 50 per cent dis­count on pet reg­is­tra­tion if they get a re­homed an­i­mal through coun­cil pounds and shel­ters, the RSPCA or An­i­mal Wel­fare League NSW.

The pro­posed change will ex­tend this dis­count to res­cue or­gan­i­sa­tions.

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