Dog attacks on the increase

DOG attacks have jumped 17 per cent, a government report shows.

The dog attack report was compiled by the NSW Division of Local Government, for distribution to councils, and analyses attack numbers for 2009-10 and 2010-11.

The report also found that more people were becoming dog owners, and often had more than one dog.

The Newcastle local government area shares in the trend, with Newcastle City Council statistics showing an 11 per cent increase in dog attacks.

The dog attack report says requirements, introduced in 2009, for councils to report attacks may explain the upward trend.

But increasing levels of dog ownership, up 8 per cent in 2010-11 compared with the previous year, may be a contributing factor as well.

Councils are expected to use the report to implement ‘‘effective strategies’’ to reduce attacks in their areas.

Newcastle City Council’s compliance service manager Adam Gilligan said there were simple steps that could be taken to reduce dog attacks.

Proper control of the animals by their owners was crucial.

‘‘We are keen to make people aware of the legal requirements but also that many people became very concerned for their safety when they see a dog off a lead,’’ Mr Gilligan said.

Seventy five per cent of the dogs involved in attacks were uncontrolled and the attacks took place in public places.

The report showed in NSW there were 5140 reported attacks on humans and other animals in 2010-11, up 17 per cent on the previous year.

In Newcastle in same period there were 171 attacks, an increase of 11 per cent.

‘‘The positive thing is that there are more than 35,000 dogs in the local government area and 171 attacks represent a small proportion of the dogs across the city,’’ Mr Gilligan said.

There are more than 1.56 million dogs in NSW.

Purebreds are more likely than crossbreds to be involved in an attack.

Dogs that attack are usually put down while owners are investigated and issued a warning.

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Top five pure breeds responsible for attacks:

Staffordshire bull terrier 650

Australian cattle dog 351

German shepherd 310

American Staffordshire terrier 252

Rottweiler 207

Top five cross breeds responsible for attacks:

Staffordshire bull terrier 362

Australian cattle dog 188

Bull mastiff 145

Mastiff 140

Australian kelpie breeds 138

Number of recorded attacks by breed

Source: Division of Local Government, 2010-11

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