When pet ownership laws are a dog's breakfast

Voice of Real Australia: Western Australia's pet ownership laws are a dog's breakfast

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Are pets really a reflection of their owner?

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by Mandurah Mail editor Gareth McKnight.

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LEFT: Gareth's dog Roman thinks WA's dog laws are a big joke. RIGHT: Mandurah resident Eileen Beitmanas has been left with a $3000 vet bill and a broken arm after being attacked.

LEFT: Gareth's dog Roman thinks WA's dog laws are a big joke. RIGHT: Mandurah resident Eileen Beitmanas has been left with a $3000 vet bill and a broken arm after being attacked.

EVERYONE knows that dogs are a man's best friend - and here in Mandurah, Western Australia, we live in a community of animal lovers.

As reported in the Mandurah Mail, we boast the state's only dog-friendly hotel and footage of a four-legged friend swimming in the estuary with our resident dolphins went viral.

However, while the majority of people are conscious of their responsibilities as dog owners, those who do not are getting away almost scot-free.

In the last two years there have been almost 600 dog attacks in the City of Mandurah's jurisdiction, but the local government has not prosecuted a single offending pet owner.

Responsible ownership: Really? You need to be told? Photo: Shutterstock

Responsible ownership: Really? You need to be told? Photo: Shutterstock

This is not the first time this year the community on the south-west coast of WA has been spitting feathers over one of the council's decisions - with a new 'cat curfew' firing up commentators on social media.

And then there was Eileen Beitmanas. She was walking her pet Milo when she was bowled over by an aggressive dog not on a lead.

She ended up with a broken arm and $3000 in vet bills after Milo was mauled.

The offending pet owner? He provided a false name - but was later tracked down and handed a measly $400 fine by the City.

WA Local Government Minister and Mandurah MP David Templeman admitted he was surprised by the lack of prosecutions and the City's weak penalty after Ms Beitmanas was attacked - but our gaze will soon be turning on him.

The WA government is currently reviewing dog legislation and given the reluctance of our local council to hand down appropriate punishments, it appears we need the state to intervene.

Painting a picture of Mandurah as a place where crazed dogs roam free is not the goal, but everyone should be able to enjoy our pristine surrounds with their four-legged companions in safety.

Personally, I agree with local canine behavioural specialist Holly Drage, who has advocated for mandatory education and training for dog owners and the need for pets to be socialised.

At the end of the day, the animal is a reflection of the owner. Maybe that's why my dog Roman, pictured, thinks WA's current pet laws are a big joke.

Gareth McKnight

Editor, Mandurah Mail

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