Domestic Animal Management Plan City of Greater Geelong draft 2013 2017 table of contents



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DOG ATTACKS

Outline programs, services and strategies to minimise the risk of attacks by dogs on people and animals.



Current Situation


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.



Dog Incidents

2009

2010

2011

2012

Menacing & rushing dogs

306

318

376

289

Dog attacks

163

182

117

177

Dogs at large

2981

2820

3435

3635

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



Our current Education/Promotion Activities


  • Raise awareness of risk of dog attacks in the home, in the street and in parks and how to reduce these risks

  • 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 early socialisation of dogs to other animals and humans

  • 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 any Magistrate’s Orders to confine dogs are being adhered to by unannounced inspections

  • 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




Community Feedback

  • 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


Summary

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).

Our Plans


  • 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

  • Decrease the number of dog attacks in the community each year

  • Promote the benefits of containing dogs to backyards


Objective 1: Encourage reporting of dog attacks in the community to reduce dog attacks, educate owners and the public, improving community safety


Activity

When

Evaluation

Improve public awareness of what a dog attack is and how to report using media articles, public notices in parks A-frame billboards, website updates, direct mail, etc

Year 1

Evaluate this activity (and overall objective) by comparing number of dog attacks reported to council pre and post campaign


Ensure all education workshops include information on how and when to report a dog attack

Year 1

Evaluation survey conducted at workshops

Promote the ‘Dangerous Dogs Hotline’ 1300 101 080 on all marketing material, Tag Time News and website

Ongoing

Hotline included in all materials, website etc


Objective 2: Decrease the number of reported dog attacks in the community each year


Activity

When

Evaluation

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

Local Dog Clubs and trainers

Council’s web site, Tag Time News, new owner packs and Local Media


Facilitate Responsible Pet Ownership workshops with dedicated sessions on dog attacks and community safety

Year 1

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.

Ongoing

Increase the number and frequency of areas patrolled.

Review dog attack enforcement and investigation policy

Annually

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

Ongoing

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

Year 1

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

Ongoing

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)

Ongoing

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

Year 1

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.

Year 1

Material produced

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


Activity

When

Evaluation

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


Year 1

Backyard containment material produced

Checklist developed and available on website, through mailouts and Customer Service Centres




Implement media campaign focussing on containing your dog to reduce dog attacks

Year 1

Media campaign implemented

Dogs at Large numbers reduced

Dog attacks reduced


Establish partnerships with hardware industries on holding construction workshops on fencing repairs, containing animals to backyards etc

Year 1

Partnerships developed

Workshops held

Dogs at large numbers reduced







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