BARE MINIMUM: Dogs that threaten humans or other animals may be classed as “menacing” under new proposals.
BARE MINIMUM: Dogs that threaten humans or other animals may be classed as “menacing” under new proposals. Thinkstock

Tougher pet rules on way

A NEW category, "menacing dog" may be created under recommendations by the Companion Animals Taskforce commissioned by Minister for Local Government Don Page.

Councils would also be given heightened powers to deal with offending owners of dangerous dogs, including an extension of the time limit on prosecutions for up to three years after an alleged offence.

And council officers could seize dangerous or restricted dogs on the spot for microchipping and registration instead of allowing the current seven-day grace period.

But while Mr Page acknowledged the Division of Local Government would consider the merit of a dangerous dog "buyback" scheme touted by Sydney columnist Miranda Devine, he said it was a very simplistic suggestion.

The Companion Animals Taskforce, headed by vet and Charlestown MP Andrew Cornwell was originally established to find solutions to the high numbers of pets euthanased in NSW.

Some 50,000 cats and dogs are euthanased every year in the state.

In response to the prob- lem, Mr Page predicted a crackdown on the widespread "puppy farm" or "puppy mill" industry, which sees dogs mistreated in order to produce cheap puppies for pet shops.

"There's no statewide licensing system for breeders, and that's one of the major recommendations," he said.

The "menacing dog" category included in the taskforce's separate report on dangerous dogs would be reserved for dogs that have demonstrated aggressive behaviour short of an outright attack.

"What we're trying to do is be more proactive - so that a dog that is showing signs of aggression or has an incident where no one got injured but nevertheless could have, that dog would be assessed by a behavioural assessor. It could even then be classified as a dangerous dog."

Presently there are three categories of dogs: ordinary, dangerous and restricted breeds (including the American pit bull terrier and four other fighting breeds).

Mr Page said the Companion Animals Taskforce had received more than 5500 public submissions to its recommendations, the majority in response to the report on dangerous dogs.

"The Department is going through the submissions now and working out the set of proposals for me to take to Cabinet," Mr Page said.

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