Dogs have the reputation of being man’s best friend but that does not mean they always get on with children. In fact, as we saw on the weekend the very opposite can be true –sometimes with deadly consequences.
On Sunday, two local children were attacked in separate incidents and taken to hospital. One child, attacked in East Nowra, has since been transferred to Westmead hospital in Sydney.
Shoalhaven City Council issued a media release on Tuesday with the alarming revelation the dog in the EastNowra incidenthad been involved in numerous attacks around the neighbourhood, none of which had been reported.
The neighbourhood in which the attack and those before it occurred is home to many children whose safety has been compromised by an apparent unwillingness to report dog attacks.
Had previous attacks been reported to Ranger Services, action could have been taken and the little boy might not now be recuperating in a hospital after such a terrifying encounter.
Ranger Services manager Michael Jarman has urged that all dog attacks be reported, especially those involving repeat offenders like the East Nowra canine.
In extreme cases such as that, council can take steps to have the animal removed.
In less serious cases, at least the owner will be alerted to the fact their dog has been causing trouble and take steps to ensure it is kept off the streets.
There is a very potent incentive to do just that, with stiff fines and possible jail sentences for serious attacks.
Where fault of behalf of the owner is found –that is an attack occurs because of a reckless act or omission by the owner or person in charge of the dog -the court can impose a maximum penalty of $22,000 or two years’ imprisonment.
And if that dog is a declared dangerous, menacing or restricted dog, the fine can go up to $55,000 and the jail term up to four years.
Most dog owners are responsible. They love their animals and take steps to see they don’t come to any harm or, for that matter, cause any.
Unfortunately, there is an irresponsible minority who let them run wild with no supervision. As Sunday’s attacks show, the consequences of not controlling dogs, especially around young children, can be disastrous.
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