THERE were no fewer than 56 cases brought against dog and cat owners in the Korumburra Magistrates’ Court last week, most of them involving people who have repeatedly ignored calls from both local shires to re-register their pets.
Which is pretty dumb really, because in most cases, the pets have previously been registered and the shire has all the owners’ details.
It was a sure way to turn a normal registration fee of $36 for Bass Coast pet owners or $50.40 for South Gippsland dog or cat owners into a fine of $422.10, by the time the court had dealt with the charges.
It would be even more if the shires left the process up to Civic Compliance.
Some people, with two unregistered dogs were fined $650 plus $165.10 in costs; a total of $815.10.
The owner of three unregistered dogs was slugged $1115, more even than someone facing dog attack charges on the same day ($502.10).
A significant number of the offences also related to dog owners not confining their animals, during the day and at night.
Shire officers estimate there could be as many as 1000 unregistered dogs in both shires, and an untold number of unregistered cats, creating a huge headache, and a heavy cost for other ratepayers chasing them up… not to mention the costs involved with dog attacks and feral cats.
But you don’t need to look past an horrific attack on a UK backpacker, at a local rural property in March this year, to see why the shire’s local laws officers need to take the issues of unregistered and unrestrained dogs so seriously.
On Thursday, March 2 this year, while visiting a rural property at Outtrim, when working for a reputable solar panels company, a 26 year old woman, on a working-holiday in Australia from the UK, was set upon by three dogs.
According to a report presented to the Korumburra Magistrate’s Court, on Wednesday, May 3, the woman was making a ‘cold call’ at a farmhouse, and walked up the long driveway to the front door.
Hardly had she finished knocking than she was set upon by three dogs, the main aggressor being a Shar Pei cross which has since been destroyed, and knocked to the ground.
The dog bit the young woman, allegedly seven times, on the stomach, thigh, calf, arms and legs; in some cases ripping out pieces of flesh.
According to a local resident who later assisted the woman, the English visitor got to her feet with blood streaming from her body, fought the dogs off and got up into a trailer.
She was able to phone her employer who came out with his van, half an hour later. The dogs were still attacking at this stage and the van driver had to get close enough to the trailer for the woman climb in through the window.
She was taken to Korumburra hospital and treated but later that night, after an agonising time at a Melbourne backpackers, was admitted to the Royal Melbourne Hospital where the wounds were reopened, due to an infection from the dog, later requiring plastic surgery.
The only positive aspect of the whole experience was that she was taken in by a Fish Creek woman for six weeks while she recovered enough to go home on Wednesday, May 3 the day the case was heard in court.
During her stay locally, she had to seek medical treatment daily, was taking strong antibiotics and was also provided with psychological support for post-traumatic stress disorder.
The owner of the property was charged with failing to restrain his dogs, however while he maintained he wasn’t at fault, he ultimately pleaded guilty. He was placed on a good behaviour bond, without conviction, and ordered to pay the court’s costs of $119.90.
“People don’t realise that they are responsible for their pets and whether you like it or not, all dogs bite. You must keep your pets contained,” said the South Gippsland Shire Local Laws Co-ordinator Bruce Gardiner.
UK backpacker savaged by dogs