Fear Fluffy as council reveals dog attack dangers
Blue heelers in Noosa apparently cop an undeserved bad rap for putting the bite on people and dogs.
According to Noosa Council director of community services Kerri Contini, locals are at greater risk of being attacked by Fluffy the canine bath mat.
Ms Contini has given councillors a briefing on the dog attack situation in the shire.
Councillor Joe Jurisevic requested the update at a council services committee meeting as the council looks to ramp up its community awareness of dog control compliance and the proper use of off-leash areas.
“Are they occurring in dog off leash areas?” Cr Jurisevic said.
“Are dogs getting out of yards, are they occurring just randomly in the streets?”
Ms Contini said council is looking at reviewing its data to see if it can better target the neighbourhoods and the breed of dogs involved in attacks.
“There’s a lot of stereotypes out there where people say ‘oh well you shouldn’t have a blue heeler, because blue heelers are going to be vicious’,” she said.
However Ms Contini said the available data suggests it is the “fluffy” dogs which are the most prone to attack.
Between April and June 30 this year there have been 23 reported dog attacks, 15 on animals and eight on people with 51 proactive patrols undertaken including early-hour enforcements.
In March this year a 73-year-old woman and her poodle were attacked on the street near Sunshine Beach units, in this case by a larger Arab-looking breed of dog.
The woman suffered a fractured pelvis and deep wounds to her elbow after being knocked to the ground trying to protect her dog which required treatment of more than $1000.
Sunshine Coast Council area dog statistics:
According to Sunshine Coast Council figures there are 50,543 registered dogs and in the 2019/20 financial year, there were 399 dog attacks reported, 274 on another animal and 125 on a person.
In the 2018/19 financial year there were 402 attacks, of which 143 were on a person.
In the last 12 months, 13 Sunshine Coast dog owners have incurred $40,300 in penalties through the Magistrates Court for attacks caused by their pets.
Ms Contini said attacks happen in all sorts of places and spaces.
“The ones that concern us particularly are the number that occur on a footpath outside somebody’s house,” she said.
“What they’ve done is they’ve taken their dog for a walk, as they approach their home, they say ‘right we’re on our way home now’.
“They take their dog off their leash before they actually get inside the fence, they might be at the neighbour’s yard, they take their dog off leash there and that’s where we’re seeing instances of dog attacks.
“People’s responses are ‘but I’m home’, we’ll no, you’re not actually inside your fence and this is where we’re seeing behavioural issues,” Ms Contini said.
She said some dog attacks are happening in dog off-leash areas.
“There’s a mistaken belief by some people that once a dog’s in an off-leash area that they can just let their dog run free, whereas it’s very clear you still have to have your dog under effective control,” she said.
“That means you need to be able to call your dog and the dog has to either sit or come to you. We do have some people who don’t understand that and we see issues because of that,” she said.
Mayor Clare Stewart and Cr Jurisevic have recently visited Tewantin to look at where there may be the opportunity to set aside more off-leash areas for dogs.
Cr Amelia Lorentson said at a recent residents’ coffee chat consultation at Sunshine Beach one repeated concern voiced was the lack of clear dog signage for unleashed areas.
Cr Lorentson said the council’s local laws officers have identified this as an issue.
Ms Contini said putting signs up everywhere would be incredibly expensive and they would potentially still be ignored.
“We need to look at what is the problem behaviour and what is driving that behaviour before we determine a solution,” she said.
“We absolutely have issues where people aren’t following correct rules and the sign’s right there.”
Ms Contini said council is looking to work hard on community education so people understand why they have to comply.
“Unless there is a specifically signed off-leash area then the dog should be on a leash and I think that’s part of our messaging that hasn’t got through well enough,” she said.
Deputy Mayor Frank Wilkie said he supported a review of council signage.
“Sunshine Coast Council is doing this quite well I think at the moment. I notice new signs down at Coolum on the pavement about dogs on leads,” he said.
“It appears around Coolum to be working.”