There were 75 reported dog attacks involving 99 dogs over a 12-month period in Wagga, a city with more than 30,000 canine residents.
The figures, in the Wagga City Council’s 2017-18 annual report, were released at the same time as the NSW government introduced a hefty increase in the fines for owners of dogs that attack.
Under the new laws, a dog owner or the person in charge will be fined $1350 when a dog rushes at, attacks, bites, harasses or chases a person or animal, whether or not an injury is caused.
The new laws are being phased in to improve community safety around dogs and to create a disincentive to own dogs that are of a restricted breed or declared to be dangerous.
According to the latest figures, there were 1245 dog attacks between April 1, 2018 and June 30, 2018, across NSW as a whole.
Wagga City Council’s compliance co-ordinator Brett Burt said local government had wide-ranging powers to deal with dogs that had deemed to be dangerous.
But Mr Burt said in many cases, problems could be avoided if owners took early action at home.
The fines are very steep now.Brett Burt, Wagga City Council
“If dogs are locked up in backyards alone all day, they not only get bored, but they are also not being socialised,” he said.
“If someone leaves a gate open, or they dig their way out and they see a rabbit or a cat or another dog, that’s when they might attack it.
“It’s a big problem if people are not keeping their dogs socialised.”
Mr Burt said for many dogs, socialisation was a simple as being put on a leash and taken for a walk.
However, for dogs that did attack, he said the legislation gave councils wide authority to act.
“The fines are very steep now,” Mr Burt said.
Councils also have the option of formally declaring a dog as dangerous, which increases further the responsibilities owners have to keep their animals under control in public.
Owners could be asked to have their dog wear a specific striped collar and a muzzle in public, put up warning signs at their property or keep their pet in a special enclosure.
“After every attack, the dog is assessed for a possible dangerous dog declaration,” he said.
“The consequences from a dog attack are potentially very serious.
“We’ve got a lot of dog lovers in Wagga, but with that comes responsibility.”
The dogs involved in the most recorded attacks between April 1, 2018, and June 30, 2018, across NSW were:
- American Staffordshire terrier (155 cases)
- Bull terrier (Staffordshire) (110)
- Australian cattle dog (69)
- German shepherd (68)
- Rottweiler (29)
- Mastiff (28)
- Labrador retriever (27)
- Siberian husky (27)
- Australian kelpie (26)