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Delinquent owners blamed

Tuesday, 19th March, 2013

Dr Guillaume Tabuteau with City Council’s Animal Control Officer Alicia Stewart. Dr Guillaume Tabuteau with City Council’s Animal Control Officer Alicia Stewart.

By Erica Visser

An intensive public campaign is needed to combat a spike in dog attacks, according to a City Council report.

The report, by Council's Group Manager of Sustainability, Peter Oldsen, suggests that the reason for the increase was the irresponsibility of dog owners.

In August, Damian Novello (41) and Leanne Barber (51) were hospitalised with severe injuries after three blue-heeler crossbreeds escaped from their Thomas Street yard and savaged them.

A string of unrelated dog attacks on pets and humans were reported in the months following, most of which the victims blamed on the complacency of the owners.

Mr Oldsen said that Council's fulltime Animal Control Officer was working at full capacity and was sometimes helped by Council's rangers.

He said a number of moves had been made by the officer, Alicia Stewart, to combat the worrying trend.

These include increased patrols in "problem areas", more penalty notices and nuisance orders for breaches of the Companion Animals Act, and dangerous dog orders on aggressive breeds.

Mr Oldsen said that more than $15,000 worth of infringement orders had been issued since January. However, they may not have been paid to Council.

His report says that a campaign into pet responsibility - from choosing an appropriate breed to securing pets - should launched to combat the "ignorance" of some owners.

However, vet Dr Guillaume "Tabby" Tabuteau said yesterday that irresponsible pet owners would not respond to a campaign.

"It sounds nice but the people that don't do the right thing will continue to not do the right thing," he said.

"Awareness is very nice, but we've got to ask ourselves 'will those people take advantage of it, or will they take note about microchippings, registration and desexing?'

"A lot of people select the wrong breeds, either for the fashion look or the macho look, and a lot of dogs haven't been taught anything at all.

When they become adolescents they're just left to wander the streets.

"When it becomes the adult dog, unfortunately a lot of those sorts of people aren't going to look after them.

"I think we probably get as many strays here as one of the major councils on the lower north coast and our population's masses smaller."

Council will discuss the contents of the report at a committee meeting

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