The owners of two dogs who attacked a jogger on Ortella Street have 14 days to decide what to do after being served with documents from Griffith City Council.
Local dog trainer from Riverina K9 Services Racheal Romeo's thoughts are with the victim, and says that the education of dog owners and the wider community is key to combating future dogs attacks.
Council's sustainable developmentdirector Phil Harding said investigations were still being finalised, and at the end of 14 days "council will take appropriate action."
Mrs Romeo says at the heart of it, dog owners are to be held accountable for the ramifications brought about by any neglect, inappropriate care or lack of training whilst any animal is in their care.
"The biggest problem that contributes to fearful behavior in dogs is due to the lack of positive exposure early on during critical periods of development when the dog is a puppy," she said.
She said dogs can behave aggressively out of fear, so if they haven't been positively exposed to various things like a variety of people, children, other animals, certain environments and other stimli as a pup, they may end up fearing these things as an adult.
Purchasing a dog through an ethical Breeder and training your dog properly may come at a cost, but what is that cost compared to having an attack or worse a fatality on your conscience as a result?Dog trainer Racheal Romeo
This can lead to some very serious and dangerous behaviours without professional intervention.
"It's easy to say, oh it's just a bad dog, but that is not the reality," Mrs Romeo said.
"There would have most definitely been behaviour displayed by the dogs involved prior and leading up to this horrifying attack, which should have been addressed or reported to the council or authorities.
"Any number of people may have been able to intervene leading up to this which is such a shame."
While Mrs Romeo would like to see a registry and screening process made compulsory for all dog owners, she says preventing people who've owned dangerous dogs in the past to purchase future pets is "a very important and necessary punishment at the very least."
"The issue also stems from irresponsible backyard breeders selling puppies," she said.
"If you are looking to bring a dog into your home it is important to make contact with an ethical breeder who is knowledgeable about the breed, their genetics and able to provide insight into whether this type of dog is a good match for you.
"Make contact with breeders who understand the importance of early socialisation during stages critical development and have a keen interest in breeding for soundness and health. They can also provide you with support and guidance."
"Purchasing a dog through an ethical Breeder and training your dog properly may come at a cost, but what is that cost compared to having an attack or worse a fatality on your conscience as a result?"
At the other end of the spectrum, in her experience it's just as neglectful to humanise pets, treating them as another 'human' member of the family.
"While they are very loved and important they are not humans, they are dogs, and need to respected and enriched as such.
"If this was a child involved in this attack, it could quite possibly have eventuated in a fatality. Even then, the trauma the victim will go through as a result, it just horrifies me."
Education and training
Compulsory training and education of all dog owners should be the minimum, Mrs Romeo said, but the education should start with the next generation as well.
"Training is not an option, it is an absolute obligation when it comes to our dogs," she explained.
"Another important part of a strategy to combat these occurrences is to start properly educating young children, the next generation of dog owners, about the correct way to support companion animals as responsible pet guardians."
How to prevent dog attacks
While Mrs Romeo was clear that every circumstance is different when facing down a strange roaming dog, there were a few things to put in place to ensure your safety at all times.
- Make sure you are in places where you can access help at all times.
- Be aware of your surroundings and what's going on, not listening with headphones so loud you can't hear around you.
- Rather than going out alone exercise with a partner or friend.
- If you see a dog nearby, move calmly away from it without drawing attention to yourself. Don't run as it could encourage the dog to chase.
- If you are in the middle of what could possibly eventuate in an attack you may panic and not think clearly or act quickly, so signal for help from someone nearby or a motorist passing you.
- Call the council immediately if you see any roaming dogs
But she said these approaches are just "Band-aid" measures.
Its a tough fact that any dog in the wrong hands can be dangerous.Racheal Romeo
"There should be harsher punishment for irresponsible pet owners and empower those who want to do the right thing by their pets.
"Its a tough fact that any dog in the wrong hands can be dangerous."
Complaints, if not able to be resolved by communication with the animal owner in the first instance, should be made to Griffith City Council Customer Service Officers on 6962 8100.
A complaint, with necessary information including details of the nuisance, location, breed of dog will be referred to Compliance staff for investigation and determination.
The NSW Government increased dog attack fines in 2018 from $550 to $1320 under the Companion Animals Act 1998.
Under the laws, a dog owner or the person in charge will be fined $1350 when a dog rushes at, attacks, bites, harasses or chases a person or animal, whether or not an injury is caused.
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