The City of Cockburn's response to PerthNow Cockburn on 23 November 2021 about the rise in dog attacks
Question: Could the City clarify whether the 20% increase in dog attacks over the last three months is compared with the same period in 2020 or the whole of 2020?
Yes, it is the same period.
Question: What does the 20% refer to in numbers?
The 20 per cent figure is an approximation based on analysis of all dog attacks recorded between September-November 2020 and 2021.
The November 2021 numbers are based on a daily average of reports received from 1 November to 15 November 2021.
The City received 50 dog attack reports between September-November 2020.
The City has received 47 dog attack reports between 1 September and 19 November 2021.
The City estimates another 15 dog attack reports by the end of November, potentially taking that figure to 62. This is a 19.5 per cent increase in dog attack reports on the same period in the previous year.
Question: How many dog attacks have there been so far this year?
196 dog attacks had been reported to the City for 2021, up to 19 November.
These figures include incidents such as chasing, that didn’t result in a physical injury, to those where an injury did occur.
Question: How many dog attacks were there in 2020 and 2019?
Question: What are the reasons behind the 100% prosecution rate? (E.g. is it because of good evidence, CCTV, witness accounts?)
- 186 dog attacks were reported to the City in 2020
- 204 dog attacks were reported to the City in 2019
In 2020, the City achieved a 100 per cent conviction success rate in cases where the City elected to prosecute a dog owner.
The excellent work in achieving this conviction rate is due to the community doing its part in reporting dog attacks as soon as possible. The community has diligently supplied accurate information on the attacking dog and the owner’s details to Rangers.
People know that medical bills can be expensive, so victims are eager to obtain as much information about the attacking dog when an attack occurs. Without the community’s support, an investigation can become challenging for the City’s Rangers to investigate.
Question: What defines a serious incident?
There is no legal definition to classify a serious incident. The City may consider prosecuting the owner of an attacking dog if no injuries are sustained. For example, if an attacking dog is a ‘declared dangerous’ dog, or the dog has been involved in previous attacks that had not caused an injury.
Question: Has the City seen a 20% increase in registered dogs as well?
: No. There has been a seven per cent increase in dog registrations. About 14,000 dogs are currently registered in the City.
Question: Has there been more attacks because of more registered dogs?
- The City received 534 new registration applications between 1 October 2019 and 31 December 2020
- The City received 862 new registration applications between 1 November 2020 and 31 October 2021
There is no correlation between dog attacks and dog registration. As dog ownership increases, so too does the probability of dog attacks.
The City is doing its part to minimise dog attacks by offering all registered dog owners within the City subsidised dog training classes and a number of other initiatives including in the City’s Animal Management and Exercise Plan opens in a new window
Question: The City has implemented dog exercise areas of late. How many dog exercise areas are there?
The City has 38 dog exercise areas and five enclosed dog parks. Within the AMEP there is a proposal to expand the number of dog exercise areas, but this will only occur after future Council approval.
Question: Has there been an increase in dog exercise areas? If so, has it contributed to the rise in dog attacks?
In 2020, the City created six new dog exercise areas. Since changing these parks into dog exercise areas, there has been no reportable increase in complaints about dogs.
Many of the dog attacks investigated by the Rangers occur in areas where dogs are required to be on-leash, such as smaller parks or footpaths. Often attacks happen when a dog has escaped from its owner’s home due to unsecure gates or fences, or doors being left open.
Question: What message does the City want to convey to dog owners and the community to try to drop the rate of dog attacks?
Dog owners need to understand they are responsible for their dogs at all times.
Unfortunately, a small number of dog owners allow their dogs to rush up to other dogs, pets and people.
Having an uncontrollable dog in a public place is not acceptable, as it is unlawful and creates an unsafe and unpleasant environment for other community members.
In 2022 the City’s Ranger Services team will launch two new campaigns, “Your Dog – Your Responsibility” and “No it's not Ok”.
These are in addition to the many other community engagement activities undertaken, such as stalls at community events and school visits, to educate owners about their responsibilities.
These new campaigns will teach dog owners better recall among other helpful hints for their pets.
The City offers dog training courses several times a year, with targeted reactive/aggressive dog courses available. These courses are heavily subsidised, with assistance available for those in low-income brackets.
Our dedicated proactive ranger patrol team are conducting daily patrols in our parks and beaches, so dog owners should expect to be stopped more regularly if they are doing the wrong thing. Owners who put our community and other dogs or wildlife at risk should be prepared to receive an infringement.
Question: Anything else you’d like to add?
The City acknowledges the growth of domesticated pets within our community and in 2020 adopted an Animal Management and Exercise Plan opens in a new window
(AMEP) to cater for this. The City is one of only a few local governments in Western Australia with a dedicated plan for animal management.
With the adoption of the AMEP, the City is undertaking a number of initiatives to make Cockburn the best place to be for humans (and pets), but it can’t do it alone. Pet owners need to take responsibility for their animals.
Dog attacks can be prevented if owner’s take responsibility for their pet and invest time training and socialising them with other dogs and people.