Outline programs, services and strategies to minimise the risk of attacks by dogs on people and animals.
Injury statistics relating to dog bites within the City of Greater Geelong were obtained from the Monash University – Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit. “Hospital treated dog bite injury among Greater Geelong residents, between 2008/09 – 2010/11”.
This study has identified that hospital admissions for dog bite injuries among Greater Geelong residents compared unfavourably with Victorian residents between 2002/03 – 2010/11. Over the nine year period, there has been an increase from 7.6 dog bite hospitalisations/100,000 population in 2002/03 to 15.9/100,000 in 2010/11.
In the three-year period from July 2008 to June 2011, there were 112 dog bite hospital admissions among Greater Geelong residents compared to 1,749 admissions among residents of the rest of Victoria for dog bite injury. This represents 6% of the state totals.
The numbers of dog attacks reported to Council for the period 2008 – 2011 were 679. It is difficult to determine if incidents captured in the Geelong Council data are duplicated in the Monash University data. If it is not, there is a very real possibility that there are more incidents of dog attacks than Council is aware of.
Menacing & rushing dogs
Dogs at large
The 2012 statistics continue to grow and are of concern particularly as there was a 51% increase in dog attacks from 2011 to 2012. Council believes there is a strong correlation between the number dogs at large and the subsequent dog attacks or menacing and rushing dogs. Based on these statistics Council will be implementing an array of measures and programs with the aim to reduce these numbers.
Council Policies and Procedures:
Policy relating to seizure of dogs found at large or not secured to owner’s premises (s.24)
Work procedure relating to attacks or bites by dogs (s.29)
Procedure for serving notices of seizure relating to seizing of identified dogs (s.84H)
Procedure for owners when recovering dogs that have been seized by Council (s.84M)
Policy associated with disposal of seized dogs (s.84O)
Policy associated with registration of dogs and the fee structure for registration) (Schedule to the Act)
Policy and procedure associated with seizure and impounding of dogs after a dog attack
Enforcement strategy associated with issuing notices to comply, infringement notices and filing charges for prosecution regarding dog attacks
Provide residents with information on how to report dog attacks – if bitten or witness an attack on a person or animal. Promote and encourage the reporting of dog attacks whether on public or private property
Identify clearly those public places that are off-leash areas, areas in which dogs are required to be effectively controlled/on-leash, and areas in which dogs are prohibited at all times/certain times – by signage, in brochures, and produced pocket fold-out map ‘Walk Time’
Promote effective confinement and control of dogs
Provide residents with information on implications for their dog and themselves if the dog attacks a person or animal
Set up a ‘Dob in a dog’ hotline for dog attacks
Run responsible dog ownership course and highlight ways of minimising the risk of dog attacks
Promote the importance of appropriate breed selection – that the dog fits the family situation – such as being hyperactive with children/herding them, not being too small that it can be hurt by children and then bite them, good temperament, if no time to walk not needing too much activity and becoming anxious or unsettled around people etc
Promote desexing of dogs to reduce aggressive tendencies and wandering at large
Promote puppy pre-school and dog obedience training, provide web links to these on Council website
Promote regular exercise of dogs
Provided police with dog cages for out of hours service
Promote environmental enrichment for dogs at home
Issue press releases at strategic times to minimise risk of dog attacks on livestock (e.g. lambing season, calving season)
Our current Compliance Activities
Develop dog attack investigation and enforcement policy and procedures
Respond to/attend dog attack reports immediately and as the top priority for animal management officers
Provide an after hours number to report dog attacks
Identify numbers of dog attacks in the community on a monthly basis, including information relating to the attacks: date, time, location, breed of dog, person attacked, animal attacked, category of injuries sustained, any information about owner/person in charge
Conduct regular patrols at locations where there is a high incidence of attacks. Conduct patrols during periods of the day when there is a high incidence of attacks
Conduct regular patrols to make sure dogs are confined to premises
Ensure all reported dog attacks are recorded and investigated to meet all points of proof provided in the Act. Seize dogs and prosecute owners in accord with Council’s enforcement strategy
Enforce on-leash requirements – if not in an off-leash area, dogs must be on leash
Be proactive in declaring dogs dangerous or menacing (using the provisions of Sections and 34 and 41A respectively)
Maintain database with details of each animal reported/found to have attacked people, pets, wildlife, and livestock. Historical data will be useful to Council
On an as needs basis inform construction workers in new estate areas, etc, of the requirement to prevent their dogs from roaming
Conduct patrols to minimise risk of dog attacks by transient populations in holiday areas
Ensure unclaimed dogs at the pound are temperament tested to determine whether they are suitable for rehoming
On an as needs basis - partner with Australia Post, meter readers, and similar parties to identify potential risk situations where dogs may escape confinement and attack, all dog attacks, rushes, wandering animals. Provide hotline number for these people to report to authorised officer
34% of respondents reported they had experienced dogs at large whilst 20% of respondents reported experiencing menacing/rushing dogs with 12% involved in some form of dog attack
Council has significant concerns over the increased number of dog attacks in the municipality and the effect on public safety that these incidents have. The proposal to change the “Dogs in Public Places Policy” providing designated Off Leash ‘Supervised’ Areas including conditions of use will assist in reducing dog attacks in public open space.
Further education and enforcements on dog attacks is a key priority as is the importance to encourage victims to report the incidents. Dog owners are strongly encouraged to conduct regular backyard checks to ensure your dog is properly contained to your property. By doing this alone 80% of dog attacks in public places could be prevented (www.dpi.vic.gov.au/pets/dog-care/preventing-attacks-in-the-community).
To continue to investigate the incidents of dog attacks, reducing and minimising the risk
Raise community awareness on how to prevent them occurring and encourage reporting of all dog attack incidences
Objective 2: Decrease the number of reported dog attacks in the community each year
Implement an awareness and education campaign publicising key dog attack prevention messages (eg confinement of dogs to property, leash laws etc) through media articles, mail outs, website info, A-frame signage or billboards, targeted patrols and Tag Time News
Promote dog training and education on dog attack awareness
early socialisation to prevent dog attacks, through
Facilitate Responsible Pet Ownership workshops with dedicated sessions on dog attacks and community safety
Compare number of reported dog attack incidents pre and post campaign.
Record type and number of education materials distributed
Number of media articles published
Responsible Pet Ownership workshops held
Website links established and exposure increased
Increase the presence of officers to conduct routine compliance patrols through a spread of hours and days ie. evenings, weekends etc.
Increase the number and frequency of areas patrolled.
Review dog attack enforcement and investigation policy
Procedure reviewed and reflects current legislation
Provide residents with information on the implications for their dog and themselves if their dog attacks a person or animal
Information produced on website and available for inclusion in Tag Time News etc
Display signage in public places to notify residents that Officers are patrolling for dogs at large to prevent dog attacks
A-frames signs produced and displayed in residential areas, public places and shopping centres by officers
Ensure any Magistrates Orders to confine dogs are being adhered to by unannounced inspections
Number of audits/inspections undertaken
Issue infringements for dog rush offences that have been proven through an investigation but prosecutions not proceeding (considered intermediate level of education)
Number of infringements issued
Work in partnership with Royal Children’s Hospital on co-branding dog’s ‘n’ kids resource kit for health professional promoting dog bite prevention and socially responsible dog ownership
Resource kit produced and distributed
Number of dog attacks reduced
Produce material to inform construction works on the requirement to prevent their dogs from roaming on work sites and new estate development website.
Construction workers informed, website update.
Objective 3: Advocate and educate dog owners to contain their dogs to their property to reduce dogs at large and subsequent dog attacks
Produce educational material targeting backyard containment including:
A checklist to ensure your backyard is safe and secure for containing your dog with regular community reminders
Reminder of fence heights for rural residential blocks
Backyard containment material produced
Checklist developed and available on website, through mailouts and Customer Service Centres