Fresh debate has been sparked over penalties for dangerous dogs and their owners, after a one-year-old baby was killed and a 10-year-old child seriously injured at the weekend.
Twelve-month-old Kamillah Jones was killed by a rottweiler on Saturday, while she was being pushed around in a pram by her mum in a street in Inverell, northern NSW. The incident is now being investigated by police, who will prepare a report for the coroner.
Just a day later, a 10-year-old Melbourne girl was rescued by her neighbour Jimmy Baird after being viciously attacked by what is believed to be a Bullmastiff, while her parents were allegedly out at the gym. He told 3AW of the rescue: “It was out of control, the dog was going berserk. We distracted the dog while we got the girl out.”
The child suffered serious injuries, and is being treated in the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
The two attacks are just the latest in a long line of tragedies over the last few months, and it’s sparked fresh questions over what penalties owners and their dangerous dogs should face – with many calling for some breeds to be banned, while others believe they should be put down following an attack.
Currently, laws vary between states. Brisbane City Council declares a dog dangerous if it “has seriously attacked a person or another animal, has acted in a way that caused fear to a person or another animal or was declared dangerous by another local government”.
In QLD, a dog that is declared restricted or menacing must wear a disc specifying so around its collar, while the owner must put up warning sign by the entrance to their property. The dog must “always be muzzled and on leash when in public and handled by a capable adult”, and “confined in an enclosure that complies with set regulations”.
Once declared dangerous, the council says “you will be given certain conditions to follow,” which may vary from case to case.
Many argue certain dog breeds should be banned from the market altogether, and one article on news.com.au asks: “How many deaths will it take before action is taken and these dangerous dogs are banned?”
Speaking about the horrific attack on the 10-year-old girl on Sunday, RSPCA Chief Executive Dr Liz Walker argued one attack can’t be blamed on an entire breed, but said owners should consider putting down a dangerous dog following such an attack.
Speaking on 3AW Radio, she stated: “It would have to be something they would seriously consider.”
However, not everyone agrees that banning breeds and putting down dogs is the answer. Professor Paul McGreevy, vet behaviourist in the Sydney School of Veterinary Science at Sydney University, says most dogs choose to attack a human due to “resource-guarding or fear”, such as, trying to guard a toy or bone, or defending itself if it feels scared.
Asked what can be done to prevent an attack, he said kids can be educated to behave correctly round dogs, while owners should keep them well exercised. He added: “Children should not be left unsupervised with dogs; We must not treat dogs as if they are furry humans or playthings; Resources, such as bones and toys, should not be left lying around where children play.”
According to government figures, there were 1196 dog attacks reported to NSW local councils from July-September 2017.
For more information on what restrictions exist in each state, and the penalties dogs and owners my face, visit thedogline.com.au.