The Australian Government is considering a bill to give police officers the power to issue warning letters and ticket fines for dog behaviour that puts a person’s safety at risk.
The proposed law would change the law from requiring a person to show their dog has a licence to enter their property to requiring a dog to have a valid dog licence.
Under current law, owners are only required to prove a dog has the right to enter a property by showing a licence or that the dog is on a leash.
Currently, dogs are not required to have valid licences, meaning owners may not have to give their dogs permission to enter.
If a dog does not have a licence, it is not required by law to have one and the law can also be used to issue warnings and fines for dogs that have escaped from their owners, like in this case.
“If the person has the wrong dog, they should have a reasonable apprehension that the person is going to be injured, but in this situation, it’s really not the case,” Detective Superintendent Tim Condon said.
He said a dog can also flee from a person if it has been injured, or if they do not want to pay for the damage.
Detective Superintendent Condon explained that a dog’s actions can also pose a risk if the owner was careless with the dog, which could be a matter of life and death for someone.
“If a person is walking their dog, and the dog runs up to the door and runs up the stairs, or runs up a tree and runs down the street, that person may not know that the house is on fire and that person could be in danger,” he said.
“It’s a real risk of a fire and the person may be in the position of having to pay the damage and the cost of the fire, and that’s a huge risk for the person who has the dog.”
In this case, the owner could face a fine of $5000, but the warning letters would be given to owners who did not surrender their dog.
Mr Condon was speaking to ABC Radio Hobart after receiving advice from police about the bill, which he said was a good first step towards the change being considered by Parliament.
In the meantime, he urged people to take precautions to avoid a potentially fatal fire.
Anyone with concerns about their dog’s behaviour should contact their local animal control agency, he said, or report it to the Victorian Government.