Attempts to fine owners for rush attacks goes to the dogs

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Dog owners risk fines over rush attacks by their dogs
Dog owners risk fines over rush attacks by their dogs

– In the latest bizarre attempt to restrict dogs from doing what dogs do, Brisbane City Council has proposed fining dog owners whose dogs engage in so-called rush attacks.

“What are rush attacks?” you say? Apparently rush attacks are defined as situations where a dog literally rushes at a person or animal in an aggressive manner.

The difference between a rush attack and an actual attack lies in the fact that a rush attack does not result in contact between the “rushing” dog and the target of the aggression.

Now it is a matter of common sense that rush attacks do occur; just about every dog owner has seen or experienced such behaviour first-hand. However it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that should proposals to codify rush attacks become law, every “Jackboot Johnny” in a Council uniform with a bent against dog owners will be rubbing his or her hands together with glee.

Imagine the scenario – a Jehovah’s Witness (JW) comes up to your gate, which is clearly marked with a large sign that states, “Beware of the dog – especially Jehovah’s Witnesses”. Undeterred, the JW puts his hand on the gate and your Chihuahua runs towards the gate, yapping with all his might. The JW breathlessly retreats to his friends, who are standing on the street corner and who have witnessed the “rush attack”. Weeping with fear, one of their number rings the Council’s Animal Control Office and lays a complaint with them that your dog has rush attacked a member of their group. Under lights and sirens (they wish), the Council Officers rush to your home and slap you with a substantial fine for allowing your dog to defend its territory – or in the Council’s opinion to “engage in a rush attack”.

Think that is a far fetched scenario? Well, think again.

The imposition of large fines as punishment for “rush attacks” of this (and every other) kind is exactly what Brisbane City Council’s “Lifestyle Chairperson” (don’t you just love the Monty Python-esque title!) Krista Adams proposed to the Local Government Association of Queensland annual conference last week. In what we can only imagine was a room full of marijuana smoke, the proposal by the “Lifestyle Chairperson” (Editor’s note: we love that title so much we just had to mention it again) was enthusiastically endorsed by Council representatives from across Queensland.

Now in the humble opinion of the Daily Dog, we can understand how one or two Councillors at the meeting might have a dose of rabies and thus be slightly mad. However the fact a majority of Councillors at the meeting enthusiastically endorsed the poorly thought out proposal regarding “rush attacks” shows how badly Queensland is represented at the Local Government level. The fact is (and this has subsequently been pointed out by legal practitioners), the ability to identify a “rush attack” versus a yapping dog having his say at a passer-by is so fraught with difficulty that Courts would be loathe to confirm Council fines over such “attacks” when they were inevitably appealed by outraged dog owners (such as in the Chihuahua illustration used above).

Indeed, it has also been pointed out by other (wiser) Councillors that many citizens who may have a grudge against a dog-owning member of their neighbourhood could easily use such laws to lay vexatious complaints against said dog-owner in a low type of “get square”.

Fortunately, the (aptly named) Councillor Quirk (the Mayor of Brisbane) has knocked the proposal for rush attack laws on the head at the time of writing. Just a week ago, Councillor Quirk endorsed the Lifestyle Chairperson’s proposal for rush attack by-laws. Yet after a week enduring howls of outrage from the dog-owning community across Brisbane, he has now crawled back into his kennel with his tail well and truly between his legs.

However just because Councillor Quirk has got the message does not mean other Councils across Queensland – and indeed Australia – will not try to enact some sort of rush attack by-laws. Therefore the Daily Dog urges our readers to keep your nose to the ground if your Local Council appears to be sniffing around this type of mongrel proposal. If your Council is thinking about enacting such by-laws, please let us know in the comments section below and we will be glad to investigate….with rabies vaccine in hand of course 😉

6 Responses to “Attempts to fine owners for rush attacks goes to the dogs”

  1. EJH

    > large sign that states, “Beware of the dog – especially Jehovah’s Witnesses”.

    I think it quite reasonable to have a sign n one’s gate saying “Beware of Jehovah’s Witnesses”, especially if their really are Jehovah’s Witnesses behind the gate just waiting to accost strangers, but isn’t it going a bit for to call them dogs??

    Duck!

    Reply
    • pups4sale

      I guess it all depends on where the punctuation marks are placed, EJH! In this case it would be meant to warn JWs – not label them.

      Reply
  2. EJH

    Seriously though,

    I am VERY concerned that people could be fined and dogs destroyed because *someone* was afraid of them.
    I hate this attitude of ‘presumed guilty till proved innocent’.

    I know that some dog owners let their dogs be a nuisance, but wouldn’t a visit from the ranger, and if it is shown that the dog did behave badly, to recommend/require the owner and dog to attend training sessions?

    Reply
    • pups4sale

      The status quo looks like being maintained for the time being at least. Good sense seems to have prevailed given the Brisbane Mayor’s backdown. As we said in the Post, anyone with an axe to grind against a neighbour could easily use these proposed laws as a “get square” otherwise.

      Reply
  3. Steve

    Has the Legislation actually been read
    if you look at Sec 16 subsection 2 (B) (C) below. I am sure all rangers prior to doing anything as you say rubbing his or her hands together with glee will investigate the allegations. The rule is put in place so dog owners take more responsibility in containing there dogs in an enclosed yard and when walking they are on leads.
    COMPANION ANIMALS ACT 1998 – SECT 16
    Offences where dog attacks person or animal
    16 Offences where dog attacks person or animal
    (1) If a dog rushes at, attacks, bites, harasses or chases any person or animal (other than vermin), whether or not any injury is caused to the person or animal:
    (a) the owner of the dog, or
    (b) if the owner is not present at the time of the offence and another person who is of or above the age of 16 years is in charge of the dog at that time-that other person,
    is guilty of an offence.
    Maximum penalty:
    (a) 100 penalty units except in the case of a dangerous, menacing or restricted dog, or
    (b) 400 penalty units in the case of a dangerous, menacing or restricted dog.
    (1AA) If a dog (other than a dangerous, menacing or restricted dog) rushes at, attacks, bites, harasses or chases any person or animal (other than vermin), whether or not any injury is caused to the person or animal:
    (a) the owner of the dog is guilty of an offence if the incident occurs as a result of a reckless act or omission by the owner, or
    (b) if the owner is not present at the time of the incident and another person who is of or above the age of 16 years is in charge of the dog at that time-that other person is guilty of an offence if the incident occurs as a result of a reckless act or omission by that other person.
    Maximum penalty: 200 penalty units or imprisonment for 2 years, or both.
    (1AB) If a dangerous, menacing or restricted dog rushes at, attacks, bites, harasses or chases any person or animal (other than vermin), whether or not any injury is caused to the person or animal:
    (a) the owner of the dog is guilty of an offence if the incident occurs as a result of a reckless act or omission by the owner, or
    (b) if the owner is not present at the time of the incident and another person who is of or above the age of 16 years is in charge of the dog at that time-that other person is guilty of an offence if the incident occurs as a result of a reckless act or omission by that other person.
    Maximum penalty: 500 penalty units or imprisonment for 4 years, or both.
    (1A) The owner of a dangerous dog, a menacing dog or a restricted dog is guilty of an offence if:
    (a) the dog attacks or bites any person (whether or not any injury is caused to the person), and
    (b) the incident occurs as a result of the owner’s failure to comply with any one or more of the requirements of section 51 or 56 (as the case requires) in relation to the dog.
    Maximum penalty: 700 penalty units or imprisonment for 5 years, or both.
    Note: Conviction for an offence under this subsection results in permanent disqualification from owning a dog or from being in charge of a dog in a public place. See section 23.
    (2) It is not an offence under this section if the incident occurred:
    (a) as a result of the dog being teased, mistreated, attacked or otherwise provoked, or
    (b) as a result of the person or animal trespassing on the property on which the dog was being kept, or
    (c) as a result of the dog acting in reasonable defence of a person or property, or
    (d) in the course of lawful hunting, or
    (e) in the course of the working of stock by the dog or the training of the dog in the working of stock.
    (3) This section does not apply to a police dog or a corrective services dog.
    (4) If, on the trial of a person charged with an offence against subsection (1AA) or (1AB) the trier of fact is not satisfied that the person committed the offence but is satisfied that the person committed an offence against subsection (1), the trier of fact may find the person not guilty of the offence charged but guilty of an offence against subsection (1), and the person is liable to punishment accordingly.
    (5) For the purposes of this section, recklessness may also be established by proof of intention.

    Reply
    • pups4sale

      Steve, the proposal was that poorly thought out that amendments to the Act you mention had not even been promulgated in draft form. It was simply a thought bubble by Politicians speaking before they thought the issue through – who would ‘a thunk of Politicians doing that, huh? Fortunately the public reaction to the proposal saw it “brought to heel” before it got anywhere near being enacted.

      Reply

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