Part 3 of series examining proposed changes to Victoria’s Domestic Animals Act

While we support the promotion of responsible pet ownership, the maximum fines proposed for a dog escaping from its owners property ($1195) or owner failing to renew the registration for a dog or cat ($2389) are over the top.

“It is in the nature of dogs to stray if they are not responsibly confined. To provide greater incentive for responsible dog ownership, the penalties for an owner allowing a dog to be at large will be doubled from three to six penalty units for a dog at large during the day and from five to ten penalty units for a dog at large during the evening.”

95% of dogs will NOT be impounded this year

Studies have found that on the whole, owners do a pretty good job of keeping their dogs responsibly confined. The incentive is keeping their dogs, who most see as a member of the family, safe from harm.

Accidents happen and fining responsible owners up to $1195 is unfair. Dogs with no history of escaping break out of yards in terror during thunderstorms. Tradespeople, babysitters, and visitors let dogs out by mistake.

For the 5% of dogs who are impounded each year only around 50% are reclaimed. What effect will increasing the fines to as much as $1195 have on reclaim rates? Many Victorians simply don’t have that sort of money available to them.

What we would like to see

For the safety of the animals and the public, owners should not permit their dogs to roam the streets. The majority of dog owners are responsible in this regard and are very distressed if their dog escapes. Irresponsible dog owners who fail to confine their dogs to their property should be easy to identify as repeat offenders. Just as we have a points system for road users, it should be possible to target irresponsible owners without unfairly penalizing responsible owners by having a sliding scale for penalties (ie. first one’s free, 2nd = $100, 3rd = $200, 4th = $400, etc).