In 2012 there has been 2,509 service request allocated to the animal management unit which is an average of 209 per month.
The ongoing increase in requests and complaints allied with increased community expectations of council‘s animal management services is having an effect on the workload of officers.
Council has increased the number of dedicated full time Animal Management Officers (AMO) from 2.0 ET to 3.0 EFT to enable the unit to better respond to the increasing workloads and improve service delivery.
Proactive park patrols are now undertaken on a regular basis with approximately 800 patrols undertaken in 2012 both at business hours and after hours particularly during the daylight saving period.
There has been a 27% increase in previous year of reported incidents relating to dogs being at large in the community. These requests require immediate attendance as there is a potential hazard for dogs to be involved in an attack on other animals or people. Dogs can also become a menace by chasing, people, cars, bikes etc, and may also injure themselves.
The cat trapping program is still extensively utilised by the community and can, at peak breeding times, incur delays to residents in receiving this free service. The cat trapping program utilizes a considerable amount of the AMO’s time. Other animal management issues are more urgent and demanding of the Officer’s time than the management of this program.
As Council enforces the Domestic Animals Act 1994 (State Law) which can ultimately lead to a criminal conviction being determined against an offender Council Officers must prove “beyond reasonable doubt” any matters brought before the Court. This is in contrast to Civic law, in which Council does not get involved, which is based on the balance of probability and has a lower onus of proof.
Responses to alleged dog attacks are immediate once brought to Council’s attention which may include an after-hours response.. There are still a number of reports that are received days after the event which can hinder the investigative process. A dog attack investigation can fully utilise the resources of an AMO for an extended period of time due to the requirement for interviewing, taking of statements and preparation of Brief of Evidence to proceed the matter to the Magistrate’s Court.
Council responds to a number of nuisance animals concerns in particular barking dog complaints. Initial complaints are responded to by correspondence to the dog owner advising of the complaint and strategies which may assist the resolving the matter. Should no action be taken by the owner or a subsequent complaint be received the dog owner is visited by AMO who will work with the dog owner to abate the level or intensity of the noise complaint.
Council will continually review the role of animal management and respond to the changing needs of the community. The focus will be education and information to improve the awareness of responsible pet ownership.
An analysis of Council’s enforcement actions is considered these against the perspective of three stakeholders.
Complainant Often the risk is viewed as between Medium to High as any rating lower that this would not normally be reported to Council. Reports can be raised by either self interest or a sense of community responsibility.
Community This more the general view of concerns identified often affected by public opinion or media focus.
MCC Moreland City Council risk factors could include public safety, preservation of amenity, financial loss or public image.
Certain physical factors can affect the both the risk and resultant action requires.
Risk / Hazard
Identified risk to the community if matter not addressed.
While no one solution can fit all problems the analysis is based on a most likely action to a service request received.
Types of action that can result from an identified risk.