Govt 'warned' about dangerous dogs

THE state government has been accused of failing to adequately respond to warnings that dangerous dogs living on a Lake Macquarie property could cause a ‘‘dreadful event’’.

The Society of Companion Animal Rescuers vice-president David Atwell sent a letter to Local Government Minister Don Page in March, saying it had made ‘‘countless complaints’’ to the RSPCA and Lake Macquarie City Council about dangerous dogs on the Mirrabooka site.

The letter said the council was ‘‘refusing to take appropriate action’’.

‘‘This situation of dangerous dogs at Mirrabooka can be remedied before a dreadful event eventuates, as it is only a matter of time before it is likely to occur,’’ it said.

The Newcastle Herald reported last week about how two American Staffordshire terriers that lived on the Mirrabooka site jumped two two-metre fences into a neighbouring property and attacked Natalie Southam, aged 19.

The attack, on May 11, left Ms Southam with wounds to her ear, back of the neck and arms that required 19 stitches.

Mr Atwell said Mr Page never responded to his group’s letter.

A spokeswoman for Mr Page said the Minister referred the correspondence to the NSW Division of Local Government.

‘‘The division has received the correspondence and has delayed replying because it has been liaising directly with Lake Macquarie City Council,’’ the spokeswoman said. ‘‘The division will be issuing a reply to SoCares [Society of Companion Animal Rescuers] shortly.’’

The spokeswoman said the division had ‘‘provided information to council including options to deal with this matter’’.

The council said it did not have enough evidence to declare the dogs as dangerous and the RSPCA said it did not have enough evidence to take action under animal cruelty laws.

Greens NSW local government spokesman David Shoebridge said Mr Page reminded councils in May last year of their obligations to take dangerous dogs seriously.

‘‘This looks like another case of the state government lecturing councils to ‘do what I say, not what I do’,’’ Mr Shoebridge said.

‘‘When the Companion Animals Act was reviewed in 2004 one of the issues was the ability for people to refer dangerous dogs directly to local courts if the authorities failed to act.

‘‘When the Minister, police and the council have all failed to act, as has happened here, concerned neighbours should be able to bring their own action to protect themselves from dangerous dogs.’’

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