Dog owner fed up after ‘nightmare’ attack
A Sunshine Coast resident has unleashed on the "lack of consequences" for unlawful dog owners after his pet was mauled by another in a traumatising attack.
Richard Jordan said he was one of many residents in the Noosa area scared to walk his dog, claiming several owners allowed their dogs to roam off leash in prohibited areas.
"It's just really frustrating being an owner of a dog in this area," he said.
"I'm forever asking people 'can you please put your dog on a lead'.
"I don't need big dogs that I don't know if they're friendly or not running up to me and harassing my dog."
Mr Jordan first became aware of the issue in 2014 when his dog was attacked in the off leash section of Castaways Beach.
While he said the dog's owner didn't do anything wrong having his pet walk freely, he said it never should have been off the lead in the first place.
"My dog went up to his dog wagging its tail, and it just went straight for her throat," he said.
"There was just no consequences.
"Because there wasn't a witness, (council) said 'oh no we can't do anything'.
"The whole thing was a nightmare, and just to have no consequence for the other owner, it was insane."
Since the attack, Mr Jordan said he had hounded Noosa Council to implement further penalties for owners who walked their dogs off leash in prohibited areas, and for those whose dogs harmed others.
"I reckon I've contacted them every six months, every year for the past six years," he said.
"I guarantee you the fines for people doing the wrong thing with their dogs hasn't increased for a very, very long time.
"It's just not a big enough deterrent.
"If you own a dog and you get caught walking your dog off the lead once every couple of years, that's only a couple of hundred dollars fine.
"All they've got to do is increase the fine considerably, and that'll be a significant deterrent."
Noosa Council local laws manager Phil Amson said all dog owners had a legal responsibility to ensure their pets didn't approach or attack others in off leash areas.
"Council officers face a constant battle trying to get dog owners to comply with the legislation," he said.
"Some dog owners also over-estimate the level of control they have over their pets, which can be a contributing factor in dog attacks."
Mr Amson said the unlawful owners could be issued with a formal warning, or a $266 fine for a blatant offence.
"Four council officers routinely patrol the shire to ensure dog owners are doing the right thing and keeping their dogs leashed," he said.
"Penalty amounts are set by the state, not council.
"These amounts increase yearly in line with CPI.
"Repeat offenders may also face prosecution through the courts, where penalties of up to $2,660 may be imposed."
Despite the four council officers patrolling the area, Mr Jordan said more needed to be done to deter dog owners from breaking the rules.
"If they haven't got the powers to fix the problem, they need to change the legislation," he said.
"Because the chances of being caught are so slim, they're just going to keep doing it.
"Dog owners in the Noosa Shire need to be able to walk their dogs without the stress or fear of running into people doing the wrong thing.
"It's been six years since my dog was attacked, and nothing has changed."
Mr Amson said the council had increased the amount of signage, stepped up patrols and undertaken education campaigns via the media and social media to ensure all dog owners knew the rules.
"When a dog attack occurs, council officers act quickly to investigate and compile a brief of evidence for the court, including photographs, statements from victims and witnesses, and a formal interview with the offending dog's owner," he said.
"The offending dog may be declared a regulated dog, which attracts a higher yearly registration fee of $489, plus the owner will have to comply with additional controls, such as provide specific fencing.
"The owner of the dog may receive an on-the-spot infringement of $266, following the attack, or fines of up to $667 for minor attacks. Council may also prosecute via the courts.
"Most dog attacks could have been prevented.
"It's every dog owner's responsibility to ensure their animal does not pose a risk to other people or animals."