Not everyone ‘has a right’ to own a dog: Vet


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Dr Susan Roberts, from the Mossman Veterinary Surgery, says most dog attacks occur in areas where the animal is off their leash illegally. IMAGE: Supplied.

MOSSMAN vet Dr Susan Roberts believes a rise in dog attacks across the Douglas Shire can be largely blamed on owners not having their animals desexed.

With debate raging in Port Douglas about the vigilance of dog owners, Dr Roberts said many attacks happen when male dogs are roaming at night. The Mossman Veterinary Surgery has been inundated in recent weeks with smaller dogs requiring surgery. She was forced to stitch up an animal yesterday after it was set upon by a larger dog.

“It’s becoming an issue,” Dr Roberts said.

“We’ve had a lot of calls after hours due to larger dogs attacking other animals, because unfortunately people leave dogs out at night roaming free.

“People need to realise the damage their animal can do not just to other dogs, but to people. Having male dogs desexed is crucial.

“If someone is out walking their own dog while a male is roaming free looking for females, then they can see it as fair game.”

Dr Roberts said it was a fallacy to believe that every person within the community ‘had a right’ to own a pet.

“Dogs cost money, and if you can’t afford to have them desexed or to be properly trained and cared for, then you shouldn’t have one,” she said.

“People unfortunately buy an animal thinking there is nothing else for them to do. But if the owner is not going to look after their own dog, then who is?

Her comments follow a number of reported attacks in Port Douglas, including on Four Mile Beach, and in Mossman. A number of Newsport readers have suggested a license should be required to own a dog, while others believe animal control patrols and harsher penalties should be introduced.

Dr Roberts said sweeping changes to dog laws wasn’t the answer, and agreed with the notion that good reform is usually a complex, thorough process allowing for the liberties of the community - such as walking your dog on the beach - to remain in tact.

She said it was a ‘good thing’ to have off-leash areas for dogs, but owners needed to take responsibility for their animals.

“Everyone loves to have their dogs off the leash, but the reality is not every dog is able to have that luxury,” Dr Roberts said.

“It’s about owners understanding their dog and taking responsibility. If they are too big, or have shown aggressive behaviour, then they should be kept on a leash. And in areas that don’t allow off leash then that must be adhered to.

“Usually dog attacks are in areas that dogs are off their leash illegally. Owner education and socialisation is paramount.”

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