By Michael Giles

DOGS on the loose, especially in farming areas, can cause a lot of damage and distress.
And there’s also a huge problem with feral cats as well.
Because the truth of it is that not all dog and cat owners are responsible.
While the vast majority register their animals, de-sex and micro-chip them, and do their best to restrain their pets and stop them from straying; some people couldn’t care less.
If there’s an opportunity to rort the system, they’ll take it. And they’re not concerned if their pets cause problems for others.
For them, it’s only the threat of enforcement or an actual court appearance that can bring them to heal; and not always then either. Some simply refuse to pay their fines as well.
There’s also apparently the widespread problem of people breeding dogs illegally and making a very tidy sum while they are doing so, sometimes keeping animals in poor conditions or allowing dogs to have too many litters.
And it’s not every farmer who looks after his or her stock either. We’ve seen atrocious examples of that as well.
It’s a difficult space to work in at times with offenders and proof elusive.
There’s also the issue of people living in illegal dwellings, a particular problem in rural areas where farm buildings can be readily converted.
And there’s the problem too of people making illegal additions to homes or generally causing a nuisance to neighbours and the community in general.
If the shire gets a complaint about such things, they have to act and you’d be surprised to hear the lengths that some people go to avoid compliance and detection.
But, at the end of the day, these issues have to be dealt with in a professional, courteous manner – the shire officers or state government personnel who deal with these things have an important job to do and property owners need to respect them for it.
It’s reasonable that people should be given time to comply once a breach is found, and their lives shouldn’t be made miserable while they are going through the process.
Prosecution and fines should be seen as a last resort but the community at large would certainly support authorities finalising these matters in a timely fashion when reasonable opportunities have been exhausted.