BATHURST Regional Council’s dog attack rates are far lower than those in Orange because Bathurst council spends up to $20,000 per year subsidising desexing of pets for low income earners senior ranger Margaret Gaal says.
Between April and June 16 attacks occurred in Orange involving 18 people, in the same time period Bathurst had three attacks but no people were involved.
Since 2003 Bathurst council staff have teamed up with RSPCA workers to offer free desexing for pets whose owners have a healthcare card,
Mrs Gaal, who has 32 years’ experience as a ranger in Bathurst said the difference between then and now was obvious.
“We don’t have dogs wandering the streets anymore,” she said.
“We also had a huge parvo problem but we don’t have that now.”
Orange has a large parvo problem according to RSPCA staff and the shelter in Orange euthanised 170 dogs last year.
The system implemented by Mrs Gaal was adopted by Bourke, Brewarrina and Wilcannia and there is every reason why the same program can work in Orange to reduce the number of stray pets, reduce the number of pets showing up at the pound and most importantly reduce the number of dog attacks she said.
But Orange council needs to be pro-active for the program to work.
In the early stages of the program, Mrs Gaal and her team doorknocked about 1000 houses in the lower income earning areas of Bathurst, they visited department of housing areas, visited women’s refuges and visited Aboriginal centres, she said, anything they could do to get the word out there that pets would be desexed for free.
“The females are less likely to want to jump the fence to get pregnant, the males are less likely to jump the fence to get them pregnant and they’re less likely to attack,” she said.
“But it isn’t just the desexing, we run all sorts of other programs too.”
Group dog training sessions will be offered for free in Bathurst in March, Mrs Gaal runs presentations in schools and at community groups and council and RSPCA staff run dog education expos.
Orange City Council staff ran a joint initiative last year with RSPCA staff offering discounted cat desexing but the Bathurst program has been in place for nearly 11 years.
In the 2012/2013 financial year Orange council spent $536,000 on companion animal management activities whereas Bathurst council spent $476,493.
There are 15,607 microchipped dogs in Bathurst yet there are 14,605 microchipped dogs in Orange.
Orange council staff could not be contacted for comment.