Council is warning residents to take responsibility for their dogs or risk hefty fines, prosecution or potentially the removal of a loved pet.
“It’s all too easy just to say sorry if your dog attacks someone or another animal, but really owners need to be better than that and prevent the attack in the first place,” says Council’s Local Laws Manager Phil Amson.
The warning follows more than 70 dog attacks since January in which 29 people were injured and at least 10 family pets killed.
Mr Amson said this is already a 55% increase above 2017 which saw 41 dog attacks for the entire year.
“Every one of the 74 dog attacks reported this year could have been prevented if the owners had showed the appropriate level of responsibility and properly supervised their dogs or maintained their property to prevent their pets escaping,” says Mr Amson.
Council officers are taking a zero-tolerance approach to irresponsible pet owners in the wake of the spike in attacks - the most Noosa has seen annually for many years.
In one incident a woman’s cat was mauled to death in her living room by a dog that escaped from a house several streets away.
In other incidents a man riding a bicycle was attacked by a dog that escaped from a nearby property, while another dog mauled and killed nine pet chickens, and a woman was knocked over and her small dog mauled by a large dog that escaped through a gate.
That dog and five others were surrendered and destroyed by Council following attacks.
“Most of the dogs are much-loved family pets that either just don’t like other dogs, haven’t been properly socialised or have an over-active prey drive. It’s up to the dogs’ owners to prevent attacks from happening.”
Mr Amson said the solution was often as simple as making sure dogs were contained so that they simply cannot escape the property.
“Make sure gates and doors are closed and any holes in fences are properly repaired to prevent escape. We see an increase in dogs escaping from yards during school holidays so it’s important to educate kids about closing doors and gates. Self-closing gates and latches are a great addition and can be purchased inexpensively from hardware stores,” he said.
Fines for dog attacks range from $261 to $2610.
“If a dog is declared dangerous following a dog attack then the owners also face an annual $550 cost to register the animal,” Mr Amson said.
Being in an off-leash area does not excuse a dog attack.
“Even in off-leash areas dog owners are still required to keep their dogs under effective control. If you don’t have verbal control of the dog, then don’t let if off the lead. If you don’t have the required control then go and get some training for your dog, it’s that simple.”