Dog Amendment Bill 2013 - Questions

Hon LYNN MacLAREN to the minister representing the Minister for Local Government:

(1) In the proposed Dog Amendment Bill 2013, under what circumstance is the dog registration fee waived?
(2) Is it possible to waive a fee if a dog is a dangerous dog?
(3) If no to (2), why not?
(4) Please describe what makes a dog “unduly mischievous”.
(5) Please provide current Australian statistics on pit bull terrier attacks compared to attacks by other dogs.
(6) Can Australian vets identify a pit bull terrier based on appearance?

Hon HELEN MORTON replied:

I thank the honourable member for some notice of the question. In preparation for the debate on the Dog Amendment Bill 2013, I asked to be sent a range of photographs of the dogs that the member is referring to, so if someone asked me if I knew what they looked like, I would be able to say yes.
Hon Ken Travers: The honourable member is the full kennel on dogs now!
Hon HELEN MORTON: Absolutely.
(1) Under proposed new section 15(4A), a local government has the power to discount or waive a registration fee for any individual dog or any class of dog within its district. This will be at the discretion of the local government.
(2) No; proposed new section 15(4B) applies.
(3) A person who chooses to keep a dangerous dog needs to be able to bear the costs of providing additional measures to protect members of the public. It makes no logical sense to provide them with a discount or waiver of their registration fees.
(4) A local government can, under section 16 of the current Dog Act 1976, refuse to renew the registration of a dog or cancel such registration where the dog has been shown to be unduly mischievous to the satisfaction of the local government. This would occur if there had been repeated offences under the act, such as under sections 31 to 33A, which are as a result of the dog continually escaping from the owner’s property.
(5) Only New South Wales has mandatory reporting of dog attacks. I seek leave to have further information incorporated into Hansard.
The PRESIDENT: Could the minister briefly describe the information.
Hon HELEN MORTON: Mr President, it is a full outline of what takes place in New South Wales in relation to the question about current Australian statistics on pit bull terrier attacks compared to attacks by other dogs.
Leave granted.
The following material was incorporated —
• In New South Wales (NSW), the Companion Animals Act 1998, as amended in 2008, requires that councils report information to the NSW Division of Local Government, within the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, of dog attacks within 72 hours of receiving the information.
• A dog attack can include any incident where a dog rushes at, attacks, bites, harasses or chases any person or animal (other than vermin), whether or not any injury is caused to the person or animal.
• In March 2012, the Department released a report covering Council Reports of Dog Attacks in NSW 2010/11.
• 87 attacks were by pure-breed Pit Bull Terriers. With 2,567 pure-breed Pit Bull Terriers on the register, this represents an attack rate of 3.4 per 100 dogs on the register. Only Tibetan Mastiffs had a higher attack rate but as only two attacks occurred with 43 on the register, these numbers are too small to draw a conclusion about the aggressiveness of that breed.
• Of cross-breed dogs, Pit Bull Terriers accounted for 50 attacks. With 1,287 cross-breed Pit Bull Terriers on the register, this represents an attack rate of 3.9 per 100 dogs in the register. This was the fourth highest rate of attack after St Bernard, British Bulldog and Dogue de Bordeaux, but these only accounted for four, six and four attacks respectively, and had registered numbers of 58, 101 and 87.
• The pure-breed Pit Bull Terrier had the highest rate of attack in 2005/06 and 2007/08, second highest in 2006/07 and 2009/10, and the third highest in 2008/09.
• The cross-breed Pit Bull Terrier had the highest rate of attack in 2006/07, 2007/08 and 2008/09, fourth highest in 2005/06, and fifth highest in 2009/10.
• Over the six years that data has been collected and collated on dog attacks in New South Wales, the Pit Bull Terrier—whether a pure-breed or a cross-breed—has never been outside the top five most dangerous dogs, and five times it has headed the table.
• No other breed of dog has appeared in the top five of the twelve lists of most dangerous dog breeds (pure and crosses) more than seven times, compared to twelve by Pit Bull Terriers.
• 523 dog attacks in New South Wales over the six years were attributed to Pit Bull Terriers.
(6) The Dog Amendment Bill 2013 does not require a veterinarian to identify a pit bull terrier based on appearance.