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Prey Drive In Pet Dogs


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It is illegal for cats to roam here - but it s of course not policed and we have a street full of roaming cats. I wouldn't like my dogs to kill one, but I know Issy would if she caught one in the yard. We have double gates and good fences but the cats climb trees, jump on the carport roof and down into the yard. The Pomeranians from next door can also get though the uprights in the outer gate, and since the neighbours don't have a front fence this has happened a couple of times. Whilst the dogs (and I) don't like the incursions from the Poms the reaction from my dogs appears to me to be very different from the ones to cats. Cats involve a full on chase to catch and destroy reaction which looks like prey drive to me but the Poms seem to get a much lower intensity "Get out of my yard" response. All the dogs have met at the park so they are not unknown dogs - maybe that would be different again. I have warned all the cat owners I can identify but can't do much else. My dogs are never unleashed outside the property where there might be a cat or cars or other loose dogs in uncontrolled situations.

Corvus I found your comment about not wanting to have a dog that might kill another dog because you did not want to be responsible for someone losing a pet interesting, do you not consider cat owners value their cats pets as much or do you feel differently about cats as pets? Not digging in anyway just curious , the cat owners in this street profess great love for their cats but still don't contain them even after I have told them our dog may kill their cat if it comes in the yard. I have even left (nice) notes for a couple of the regular offenders but the cats still roam. Our council has told me if the cats ( or Poms although this appears less likely) are killed on our property our dogs may still face declaration as menacing/dangerous, as the only defence for aggression here is if the dog is protecting you or the property and they don't usually accept roaming cats as a defence.

It is batshit crazy IMHO - my dogs are safely contained. don't roam, are leashed in public, I have a sign on the fence saying please ring the intercom in case the dogs are loose,a sticker on the car telling people not to put their hand in etc.etc. but could still end up in strife because of something totally out of my control. It makes me angry actually.

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In my area, we have a pretty apathetic council who don't generally enforce laws unless they realllllly have to, so we're probably lucky (if that's the right word) in that respect. Our nearest neighbouring council is very proactive in enforcing the act though and for a while, there was talk of a shoot-on-sight policy for wandering dogs. Presumably until someone pointed out that it was illegal for them to just drive around, shooting dogs in a suburban area.

The legislation definitely leaves a lot of room for abuse though and that's the biggest issue. When it comes to reporting attacks on animals, you can dob in someone else's dog for an attack provided the victim is.. "any live vertebrate animal other than a human being". Srsly.

Shooting on sight in a suburban area?! What the?? It's one thing if the dog is attacking livestock and it's the only way you can protect them, but just wandering dogs?? I'm so glad it didn't come to fruition. And yeah, any legislation that leaves room for abuse is a huge problem, as unfortunately there are people in ranger type positions that enjoy having power over others and will use what they can in the legislation to do it. Hell, I've spoken to plenty of people here in NSW with rangers doing things that the legislation doesn't permit them to do!

The council area in question was not overly large but it is an area that encompasses several suburbs of a large town and then abruptly turns rural. The threats came because the ACO alleged that dogs wandering from the more built-up areas were moving onto rural land and causing trouble. In that particular area, there is not much farming of livestock, it's mostly vineyards and orchards. And personally, I don't think I've ever seen so much as a single wandering dog in the whole council area. To many people, it seemed a disturbing over-reaction to a "problem" that didn't exist- looking for dogs to shoot because someone enjoyed doing just that.

Compare that to my council.. we had a wandering dog on our property (that we couldn't get near enough to to restrain it) and when we called our council, we were told that unless we had it on lead, tough cookies. They might send someone out to have a drive around ( :confused: ) but they weren't wrangling no cattle. Given the dog in question was a very large, agitated bull breed dog, our only option was to open up our front gates and herd it back out onto the street to become someone else's problem.

It'd be really nice if we could have some sort of middle ground between those two approaches to dog control :/

Edited by Maddy
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It is illegal for cats to roam here - but it s of course not policed and we have a street full of roaming cats.

The residents in my shire are supposed to do the policing. We are supposed to hire traps and trap the roaming kitties. The Council said when the law came out that they weren't going to be driving around catching cats.

Interestingly I am seeing more cats out on the street again now. There were none for ages.

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In my area, we have a pretty apathetic council who don't generally enforce laws unless they realllllly have to, so we're probably lucky (if that's the right word) in that respect. Our nearest neighbouring council is very proactive in enforcing the act though and for a while, there was talk of a shoot-on-sight policy for wandering dogs. Presumably until someone pointed out that it was illegal for them to just drive around, shooting dogs in a suburban area.

The legislation definitely leaves a lot of room for abuse though and that's the biggest issue. When it comes to reporting attacks on animals, you can dob in someone else's dog for an attack provided the victim is.. "any live vertebrate animal other than a human being". Srsly.

Shooting on sight in a suburban area?! What the?? It's one thing if the dog is attacking livestock and it's the only way you can protect them, but just wandering dogs?? I'm so glad it didn't come to fruition. And yeah, any legislation that leaves room for abuse is a huge problem, as unfortunately there are people in ranger type positions that enjoy having power over others and will use what they can in the legislation to do it. Hell, I've spoken to plenty of people here in NSW with rangers doing things that the legislation doesn't permit them to do!

The council area in question was not overly large but it is an area that encompasses several suburbs of a large town and then abruptly turns rural. The threats came because the ACO alleged that dogs wandering from the more built-up areas were moving onto rural land and causing trouble. In that particular area, there is not much farming of livestock, it's mostly vineyards and orchards. And personally, I don't think I've ever seen so much as a single wandering dog in the whole council area. To many people, it seemed a disturbing over-reaction to a "problem" that didn't exist- looking for dogs to shoot because someone enjoyed doing just that.

Compare that to my council.. we had a wandering dog on our property (that we couldn't get near enough to to restrain it) and when we called our council, we were told that unless we had it on lead, tough cookies. They might send someone out to have a drive around ( :confused: ) but they weren't wrangling no cattle. Given the dog in question was a very large, agitated bull breed dog, our only option was to open up our front gates and herd it back out onto the street to become someone else's problem.

It'd be really nice if we could have some sort of middle ground between those two approaches to dog control :/

Man, with you 100%. Both approaches are, well, unacceptable.

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Further to this, now that I'm on a computer, here is the legislation (in part... there's other stuff about dangerous and menacing dogs etc in it, but this is relevant stuff):
16 Offences where dog attacks person or animal

(1) If a dog rushes at, attacks, bites, harasses or chases any person or animal (other than vermin), whether or not any injury is caused to the person or animal:

(a) the owner of the dog, or

(b) if the owner is not present at the time of the offence and another person who is of or above the age of 16 years is in charge of the dog at that time—that other person,

is guilty of an offence.

(2) It is not an offence under this section if the incident occurred:

(a) as a result of the dog being teased, mistreated, attacked or otherwise provoked, or

(b) as a result of the person or animal trespassing on the property on which the dog was being kept, or

© as a result of the dog acting in reasonable defence of a person or property, or

(d) in the course of lawful hunting, or

(e) in the course of the working of stock by the dog or the training of the dog in the working of stock.

To be honest I'm pretty horrified that some other states don't have the same provisions/protections.

Our possible defenses are a bit different and don't include trespass, unless the dog is a guard dog- which, although not mentioned there, requires different licensing to a pet dog and cannot (as far as I can recall) be used to guard a residential property.

(7) It is a defence in proceedings for an offence under this section if the defendant establishes that –

(a) the dog was being used in the reasonable defence of any person or property; or

(b) the dog was being teased, abused or assaulted; or

© the dog was a working dog engaged in –

(i) working with police; or

(ii) droving or tending livestock; or

(d) the dog was a hunting dog engaged in hunting.

The trouble with a lot of our legislation here is that things aren't clearly defined. We have no provision for dogs attacking vermin (which I believe most other states have?) and an incident outside of the very narrow range of defenses is considered to be an "attack", with the risk of a destruction order attached, even if the case was clearly just a dog doing what most dogs would do, such as chasing cats or rabbits. A dog that chases rabbits is not necessarily a man-eating monster dog.

Yikes, that's actually really frightening :/ I thought our legislation was bad enough when it comes to not taking in to account normal dog behaviour (an attack on a cat off the property is not differentiated from an attack on a person, for example), but you're exactly right that yours is barely defined and very open ended. If you had a good council then great, but plenty of councils are not good councils.

I'm sorry your Grey was so brutally attacked. :(

Thanks melzawelza, that's interesting. I guess as more places are starting to ban roaming cats the legislation might change to keep up.

I'd like to see an offence added associated with a cat that attacks which carries a similar penalty ($550), and maybe the ability to put a containment provision on an individual cat that has attacked. I'd never want to see across the board cat containment legislated though (and thankfully it doesn't seem to be on the cards here in NSW as we can't implement bylaws and it's unlikely that it would be legislated across the whole state in the Act).

May I ask why not re the bolded bit? Personally I hate the fact that the neighbours cats pee on my balcony, shred the covers of our sandpit, hiss and fight on the fence of a night next to my children's windows and try to eat the magpies that like to cruise around in our yard.

--Lhok

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As much as I dislike wandering cats and agree with the many reasons for keeping them contained, cat laws aimed at keeping them in would just result in a lot of dead cats. Cat gets outside, council picks up cat, cat owner can't afford the fine/impound fees to get their cat back so it is PTS by council. Cat owner goes out and gets a new cat, rinse, repeat. In fact, I think the only group who would benefit from this sort of thing would be the dickheads who BYB cats.

The trouble with those sorts of laws is that while they sound good in theory, cats are difficult and expensive to contain. I can keep my dogs contained with just standard residential fencing. Try keeping the average cat contained with that. Even with the changes we've made to our fences, we still have cats getting in because they can climb and jump and squeeze under/through things in ways a dog can't. In some ways I'm kind of glad I don't own cats because keeping a determined-to-escape cat inside sounds like fresh hell to me.

That said.. many cat owners around here don't even try to keep their cats in- apparently it's "unnatural" for their cat to be safely tucked up at home, not being mashed under cars, mauled by dogs, lost, injured, poisoned, etc- and to bring in containment laws would require massive amounts of education and resources which most councils aren't keen on spending.

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As much as I dislike wandering cats and agree with the many reasons for keeping them contained, cat laws aimed at keeping them in would just result in a lot of dead cats. Cat gets outside, council picks up cat, cat owner can't afford the fine/impound fees to get their cat back so it is PTS by council. Cat owner goes out and gets a new cat, rinse, repeat. In fact, I think the only group who would benefit from this sort of thing would be the dickheads who BYB cats.

The trouble with those sorts of laws is that while they sound good in theory, cats are difficult and expensive to contain. I can keep my dogs contained with just standard residential fencing. Try keeping the average cat contained with that. Even with the changes we've made to our fences, we still have cats getting in because they can climb and jump and squeeze under/through things in ways a dog can't. In some ways I'm kind of glad I don't own cats because keeping a determined-to-escape cat inside sounds like fresh hell to me.

That said.. many cat owners around here don't even try to keep their cats in- apparently it's "unnatural" for their cat to be safely tucked up at home, not being mashed under cars, mauled by dogs, lost, injured, poisoned, etc- and to bring in containment laws would require massive amounts of education and resources which most councils aren't keen on spending.

All of this. All it would result in is heaps of dead cats and completely overworked council officers that don't have time to do anything else.

The vast majority of cats cause zero problems when outside. Yes containment is the ideal (my cats are fully indoors, and I put in a cat run off a window about a year ago that cost me $1500) but it isn't possible in many situations. As a Companion Animals Officer it would be a real nightmare to be spending my time catching and impounding cats that are causing no problems, or minor problems that can be easily sorted with some deterrents by the person who is bothered by the cat, instead of spending it on real, tangible proactive programs encouraging responsible dog and cat ownership (and dealing with off leash dogs, dog attacks etc). Also, I'd probably have to quit from burn out and compassion fatigue if I was taking cat after cat after cat to the pound to be killed.

On top of that, I'm a huge supporter of TNR as the best and *only* effective way to deal with unowned cat populations, and that isn't compatible with 24 hr cat curfews.

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As a wildlife carer, I would love to see 24hr cat curfews. The council I live in has a 24hr curfew but refuses to police it. And residents completely ignore it. So my house is full of orphan baby possums and chewed up birds from the lovely neighbourhood cats. I have 11 cats and not one goes outside. It's not hard OR expensive to keep cats indoors. The problem is that people are lazy and get cats because they can ignore them and the cat will be fine.

Edited by *kirty*
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As a wildlife carer, I would love to see 24hr cat curfews. The council I live in has a 24hr curfew but refuses to police it. And residents completely ignore it. So my house is full of orphan baby possums and chewed up birds from the lovely neighbourhood cats. I have 11 cats and not one goes outside. It's not hard OR expensive to keep cats indoors. The problem is that people are lazy and get cats because they can ignore them and the cat will be fine.

Honestly, if we had a 24 hour cat curfew here we'd need at least another five people in my role just to deal with that alone. It's not possible nor is it an effective use of council's time and money. Education and promotion of containment as an option is much better but culture change takes time. Ten years ago you'd be lucky to hear of anyone who keeps their cats contained, now it's becoming much more common.

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What about dogs that would catch and kill and small dog if it got access though? Yes, you can keep the dog on lead wherever there might be other dogs but what if a small dog approaches? We know how often people encounter off lead dogs where they shouldn't be, either alone or with owners that don't prevent them approaching other dogs. What if a stray dog ends up in the prey driven dog's yard? Is that still acceptable and understandable because it came about through prey drive?

Thoughts?

Too many variables I think. As others have pointed out, how do you know it's prey drive as it's traditionally understood (ie, going after a prey animal) or dog aggression? The only way to know would be to observe the dogs over time, something which you don't have the luxury of in most of these situations.

A mini foxie once got in our yard - he scrabbled under our 6 foot chain wire fence. I found him as one of our Afghans was stalking him with intent. Both dogs were moving extremely slowly, and my take is that it was dog aggression based on dealing with an intruder, not the kind of thing you'd see with a rabbit. If it had been a rabbit it would have been lightning fast. But would someone else observing agree? Who knows but once the Afghan saw me and I told him to leave it, he left it and I grabbed the little sucker and put him in a run until his owner came to collect him. Had I not wandered out into the yard just then the result could have been different. Or perhaps not. Again, who knows.

One thing to be aware of in these discussions is that there is a large section of the community who expect dogs to be mobile teddy bears. Owners of breeds who usually need management (some hounds, arctic breeds, guarding breeds, fighting heritage breeds) have a responsibility to manage so that accidents that can be reasonably prevented do not happen. Being in NSW my view that if the animal gets into my yard it is the owner's own look out and the legislation supports that. But you only have to look at the McHugh report's comments about lure coursing to realise that that may one day not be considered enough, and that society may take the view that dogs should have no instincts that require management of any kind. For that reason I think some of the armchair analysis that goes on in these discussions can be dangerous.

Unless an expert in dog behaviour is observing any given situation, you cannot tell why a dog attacked another dog - or chose not to.

Edited by SkySoaringMagpie
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It is illegal for cats to roam here - but it s of course not policed and we have a street full of roaming cats.

The residents in my shire are supposed to do the policing. We are supposed to hire traps and trap the roaming kitties. The Council said when the law came out that they weren't going to be driving around catching cats.

Interestingly I am seeing more cats out on the street again now. There were none for ages.

There is a waiting list for the Council's humane traps here. It can be a month or more apparently.

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