28 October 2022

Dog attacks against people, livestock and wildlife increase in Eurobodalla

| Albert McKnight
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Dog attacks have been on the increase in the Eurobodalla this year. Photo: iStock.

This year is not yet done, but the number of dog attacks against people, livestock and wildlife has already increased from last year’s figures in the Eurobodalla.

Between 2021 and so far in 2022, the statistics Eurobodalla Shire Council has on dog attacks on people has increased from 26 to 31.

When it comes to livestock, the number has increased from 16 to 25, as well as three to 18 on wildlife and 40 to 42 on other dogs.

The attacks on people often occurred when someone tried to separate dogs that were already fighting. But there were also owners who didn’t comply with control requirements for dogs deemed to be menacing, with their dogs jumping over fences and attacking those walking past, council’s environmental health and compliance coordinator Noel Fuller said.

Attacks have ended with substantial injuries, he said, such as up to 30 stitches on people’s arms.

When it came to livestock, he said a significant incident a couple of months ago involved two dogs escaping from their property and attacking or killing 13 animals.

The landowner ended up shooting the pair, killing one, and the other was caught and used to identify the owner.

Mr Fuller also said there had been a lot of attacks on native animals, such as kangaroos, and attacks had been going on for some time before two Labradors were identified as the culprits and the owners were found.

He said these types of dogs were doing what’s called a “thrill kill”.

“Dogs have an instinctual drive and get an adrenaline rush when killing animals,” he said.

“They also get more confidence when supported in packs of two or more dogs.”

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He thought there could be a couple of factors behind the increase in dog attacks this year, including a possibly increasing number of dogs in the area.

“Also, people who have the belief their dog is not capable of attacking or causing harm and not being responsible by keeping their dogs under control in public areas,” he said.

“There’s trauma involved with people in dog attacks, whether it’s on themselves or the loss of an animal.”

He also said it had been emotionally distressing for farmers to wake up and find their livestock dead.

“Whether it’s sheep or calves, pet alpacas or prized animals, the loss of livestock from dog attacks is detrimental to their lives and income,” he said.

Mr Fuller said council couldn’t have a dog euthanised; only a magistrate could make an order like that.

However, council can seize an animal and declare it to be dangerous or menacing, which means owners have to follow conditions such as having it desexed, installing warning signs at their property and keeping the animal muzzled when outside their enclosure. Council then regularly inspects properties with such dogs.

Mr Fuller said $1320 on-the-spot fines could be issued over attacks on animals and council could also escalate matters to be prosecuted in court, which could involve higher penalties.

“Our ultimate message is to be a responsible dog owner,” he said.

“Just remember we live in an area which has quite a rural population. Dogs can roam off their property and once they roam, the owners are not aware of any problems they could be getting up to.”

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He said owners should remember to keep their dogs on leads when walking through the streets, because otherwise their dog could attack others or be attacked themselves.

Also, when at the beach owners should be careful their dog might not just be playing with others, but might be being dominant.

Mr Fuller said if people witnessed a dog attack they should not get involved as they could get hurt, but should instead report the incident to council. Council’s contact details are on its website.

Council also has tips on how to prevent dogs attacking livestock:

  • Don’t allow your dog to roam, especially with other dogs
  • Make sure fences are in good order and keep dogs within a yard
  • Ensure your dog is well cared for and fed – bored, hungry dogs go looking for fun and food
  • Make sure your dog is desexed as it will be less likely to roam
  • Don’t allow your dog to chase other animals such as birds for fun
  • Train your dog to be obedient and to socialise with other animals in a controlled environment.

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People who own dogs who attack are protected DUE TO PRIVACY. The victim cannot even be told if there’s been a fine, a warning, if the dog has been declared dangerous. Where is the fairness in this?

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