Dog Owners’ Leads to be Tightened

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Wandering dogs could be seized and the owners of dogs responsible for serious attacks could be prosecuted as the council looks to get tough on pet owners.

By Jenna Johnstone

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TIGHT LEASH: News reforms issued by the Townsville Council could see pet owners face big fines for their animal’s actions.

Townsville City Council has vowed to put its animal management policies under the microscope when it embarks on a sweeping review of its local laws in coming months.

Council statistics show the rate of dog attacks in Townsville has seen little reduction in the past two years.

The figures show there were 596 complaints about aggressive dogs last year, and 371 fines issued for unregistered dogs.

A further 2269 complaints were received about wandering dogs.

Healthy City Safe City Committee chairman Cr Gary Eddiehausen says the council needs to crack down on the issue and last month voted in favour of fines for delinquent dog owners.

The call to action could see increased registration costs of $300 per year and owners could face a fine of up to $10,000 if their dog kills another animal.

“The dogs that aren’t registered or cared for properly are the ones that are causing all the trouble and biting people and attacking other animals,” Cr Eddiehausen says.

“I think it is totally reasonable for council to look at increasing the fines for irresponsible dog owners and hopefully we can use that (extra revenue) to reward the responsible pet owners in future years.

“It’s something the community are sick of and we need to make sure we significantly reduce the number of attacks that are happening.”

RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty says increasing fines for registration will do little to keep aggressive dogs off the street.

He says compulsory de-sexing of animals, in particular cats, would see a drastic change in the amount of impounded animals.

“The Townsville RSPCA and pound shelter is by far our busiest shelter throughout Queensland,” he says.

“We currently have two to three dogs per pen which is a major problem.”

Mr Beatty says dogs that are de-sexed will hold a lesser aggressive nature and be less inclined to wander the streets.

“The council has several complaints of threatening or aggressive dogs each day in Townsville,” he says.

“There should definitely be some sort of incentive in place for owners who have their animals de-sexed, such as cheaper registration fees.”

Mr Beatty says reducing the cost of release from the pound would help prevent overcrowding, as some people can simply not afford to pay to reclaim their animal.

“It seems at times insensitive that those who do come to get their animal back are charged a fortune for essentially doing the right thing,” he says.

To report an aggressive or stray dog in your area contact Townsville Council on 1300 878 001. ​