The ACT Government would kill animals that seriously injure humans as a default response, under legislation tabled by the Canberra Liberals one week after a woman was mauled to death in her home.
The political fight over dangerous dog laws reached new heights last week, after Tania Klemke died from injuries inflicted by her pet dog, which had previously attacked a person.
The Canberra Liberals, which have been pushing for tougher regulation of dangerous animals for months, today tabled a bill to rein in animals and owners.
The laws would make it the default position of government services to destroy animals found to have seriously injured a person.
“I’ve got no doubt that there are people who have very strong attachments to their pets,” Opposition Leader Alistair Coe said.
“However as we’ve seen in the tragic circumstances last week, we cannot have circumstances where known dangerous dogs are still allowed to be in our suburbs.
“Very few dogs are actually destroyed because of them being dangerous, we think that’s not good enough.”
Mr Coe said the legislation would provide the avenue for appeal, and there would be some circumstances in which animals would be spared.
Government ‘open’ to proposal
While Ms Klemke’s death was the highest-profile instance of dog violence in the ACT, several attacks have built momentum for change.
Jodie Sutton’s pet Chihuahua Jiminy Cricket was killed after two dogs forced their way into her home.
“We had two dogs that were roaming around the neighbourhood, had broken into our front door into our lounge room and attacked our animals,” Ms Sutton said.
“There’s no fight there between a couple of pit bulls and a chihuahua.
“Once a dog does it once, it’s only a matter of time before it happens again.”
The ACT Government is considering its own dangerous dog laws, and City Services Minister Meegan Fitzharris said she would examine the Opposition’s bill.
“We’re certainly open to working with the Opposition on that as a proposal-,” she said.
“We will also strengthen additional parts of the legislation, which aren’t in the Opposition’s bill.”
Ms Fitzharris said the Government also wanted to place the onus on owners of dogs to make a report if their animal attacks, and consider stronger ownership bans for repeat offenders.