DOG owners who fail to control their pets while walking them in public areas face a $550 on-the-spot fine, or more if they elect to fight the penalty and take the issue to court.
Orange City Council spokesman Allan Reeder said last weekend’s incident where a large dog attacked a poodle in Elephant Park highlighted the need for people to think twice before taking their dogs for a walk.
“A large dog might be a friendly family pet at home, but in a public park people have to expect the unexpected and be prepared for a worst-case scenario,” Mr Reeder said.
“Keeping the dog beside you on a short leash is crucial. Once the dog has built up speed as it runs towards another dog, it will pull the leash from your hand. If that happens you’re unable to control it.”
Mr Reeder said it was important to remember that a young person many not have the body weight to prevent a large or powerful dog from attacking another animal or even a child, and, if so, they should think seriously about not taking the dog out of their yard.
“If their dog attacks another animal, they not only have to deal with the emotional responsibility of that event, they’re risking a fine,” he said.
“More than that, they could also be liable for civil action.
“That means they could be sued for the expense of the vet’s bill for surgery or treating the other animal’s injuries.”
Mr Reeder said while there were no recent statistics on dogs attacking other dogs, the most recent state government figures showed 14 dogs were attacked during a three-month period between April and June last year.