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westiemum

Advice please - response to dangerous dog order

33 posts in this topic

Hi DOL Brains trust,

 

OK - first off please no judgements.  My aim is simply to help this family and dog with good advice if I possibly can.

 

The circumstances are:

 

Recently, a Kelpie was at home in SA while a children's party was going on.  

He bit a child on the nose and marked her forehead and medical attention was required and a skin graft was applied to her nose. He hasn't a history of biting anyone in the past that I know of.

He was in a noisy environment with lots of kids.  It happened in a walkway where he had no escape and was lying down.

Apparently a 3 year old child fell towards him as he was getting up and he bit the child on the nose and marked the forehead (he did not proactively bite the child as council alleges)

There was a new baby in the house who this dog is very protective towards.

The father of the child who got bitten was supposed to be supervising but obviously didn't. 

The home owner and the owner of the dog made the report to council to attempt to do the right thing (although I'm not sure if she misunderstood section 56). 

She does not believe that it was an unprovoked attack as council alleges in the documentation (and nor does her vet).

 

Unfortunately Council has come back with an intention to issue a dangerous dog control order

 

While the owner is happy to comply with the majority of the conditions of the order (she has already bought a muzzle and a crate and sought the advice of a behaviourist, will put up warning signs etc etc), the two conditions she is not happy about are:

1. wearing a muzzle in public and in particular

2. Physical restraint at all times when not at home.

 

She feels as a Kelpie this will now subject the dog to a pretty miserable life where he can't run and exercise outside a suburban back yard.  And he's a Kelpie, a working dog.

 

DOLers she's an incredibly sensible woman who is upset that her dog bit a child.  But she has already consulted a behaviourist and her vet believes it was an inhibited provoked bite and if the dog had meant to really attack the vet believes that the injuries would  probably have been much more severe.  While there can be no guarantees, we genuinely don't believe the dog is dangerous.

 

They are now considering rehoming him as a Kelpie cooped up on a suburban block who can't exercise ... well is not only going to be very unhappy but IMO may now become a problem dog.

 

They have until 12 January to respond to the council.

 

One part of me thinks they're probably lucky that a destruction order wasn't issued.  On the other hand the Act is very specific and the letter from council to the owner quotes the Act which demands all prescribed requirements or none (I think).  The only thing I think they can do is try and get the whole thing withdrawn - and I think they have none and buckleys of that as the fact is that the dog did bite a child.    But having said that  the application of the Act appears to be somewhat heavy handed: From the Act:

 

A council or the Board may make an order in relation to a dog under this Division if satisfied that—...

 

(b) in the case of a Control (Dangerous Dog) Order—

(i) the dog—

(A) is dangerous; and

(B) has attacked, harassed or chased a person or an animal or bird, or is likely to do so, in circumstances that would constitute an offence against this or any other Act; or 

(ii) the dog is subject to an order made under a law of another jurisdiction that corresponds with a Control (Dangerous Dog) Order;

 

I suppose the whole thing will turn on a definition of 'attack' and  what the 'circumstances are that constitute an offence' - and I doubt given how specific the Act is that they'll be successful in trying to argue against that.

 

So in thinking it through, a country re-home might be best for the dog and for them.   

 

For anyone who is so inclined here's the Act and its sections 50 -54 which are relevant. Section 57 applies if she rehomes.

 

Anyway, its another sad one.  I think I know which way this will need to play out. 

 

But I'd be incredibly grateful for any advice from the  DOL brains trust.  I now now have a sad family on my hands with a very sad child who is likely to lose her beloved dog (I want to say because a neglectful parent didn't supervise a three year old around a strange dog but I won't :( ).

 

Thanks DOLers.   Any advice appreciated - we don't have a lot of time :( 

 

Edited by westiemum
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Kajirin   

What a horrid situation :(

The council here put a dangerous dog order on the bloke up the road dogs after they attacked a dog very severely [dog almost died].  Now whether or not it was 'just a dog' and not a human I don't know, but nothing much has changed with how he keeps his dogs [kind of bloke that doesn't really give a flying monkey's and does as he wants].  The dogs are still there and this happened months ago.

I don't think this is one that can be 'fought' as it is stipulated in the act it doesn't matter if there was an injury or not - if the dog chases, harasses,  lunges etc...the damage has been done.

Not all 'suburban' dogs do well on farms/country areas [depending on the nature of the dog].  The order will follow the dog I believe and you have to inform the new council area of the order [so technically the dog would be in the same predicament].  Rural areas have rural fencing, so not all 'dog safe'.

A muzzle is only warranted when in public, same with a physical restraint.  At home as long as there is fencing and the dog cannot escape and the dog remains inside when it can't be supervised.

There are other alternatives for exercise [mental and physical, apart from normal leashed walks] - dog treadmill, brain games around the home, trick training etc.  Just depends on how far the family is willing to go to keep their dog happy with changing circumstances.

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Might be worth seeking legal advice.  If witnesses, backed by a vet, don't believe it was an unprovoked attack, I'd guess there is ground for contest.  I think it is broadly accepted that MOST dogs are potentially dangerous, and there's a lot of evidence that a bite to the face of a young child is the most common form of reported dog bite.  

(I was bitten in the face by an Irish setter when I was about four... fortunately that was 60+ years ago, in days when society accepted the fact that dogs do, sometimes, bite.)

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RuralPug   

With kelpies, it is not so much free running that they need as mental stimulation.
So playing fetch or hide and seek or especially training (standard obedience or tricks) is going to be heaps better for the dog than just free running. Mental stimulation is always more fulfilling for a herding breed than just plain exercise.

So provided that the family put in a little effort, the dog isn't going to miss out by having to be leashed/muzzled outside the home - plus depending on the actual wording of the SA legislation, a declared dog might be permitted exercise on private property that is adequately fenced if they have friends and/or relatives with large backyards the dog can visit.

It is unfortunate that the incident happened, but from the council's point of view it does fit the letter of the law - some dogs would not have responded with a defensive bite if a toddler fell forward upon them. I agree that proper supervision would never have put the dog in this position in the first place though.

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Thank you all very much.  You're all basically confirming what I thought which some other really good ideas and perspectives. Kajirin thats a good summary of the situation here and I agree with your interpretation of the Act - its pretty specific and black and white  with little to no wriggle room - so I suspect that fighting the order will be a waste of time.  While as SG suggests there might be grounds for a contest, I suspect costs, stress of a challenge and associated heartache (and this family have a new baby born late November and this incident happened literally a week or two after the birth) will be prohibitive - but its probably still worth asking the question.  Thanks RP - very sensible as usual - and yes you are absolutely right -  it does fit the letter of the law and some dogs wouldn't have bitten defensively in these circumstances.

 

Anyway please keep the advice and discussion coming and then I'll get back to them on the weekend.  Thanks tons everyone - you've been really helpful. 

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juice   

Didn’t Melwez ? Spelling is wrong I think have a lot to do with this subject ?

Also you could shoot Steve at k9 pro an email , think he has dealt with some too . There is one on my news feed this morning , dog caught child in face by accident and it was seized as owners didn’t comply with all the dangerous dog restrictions in time and its been at RSPCA for 7 months while they fight it . 

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:(  it is so sad  now - 'people' have lost sight of the fact that dogs BITE , that kids & dogs shouldn't race around together ... and the legal minefield that comes about when accidents happen ....  hard for families, and the dogs  :( 
WM ..hope your friends can adjust to a new situation ... it's hard with a new bub , to now  think about providing the mental stimulation this kelpie will need ..fingers crossed all will end well .
 Some years ago , a child visitor needed an emergency hospital visit after another visitor's dog  reacted  to being awoken with a child hugging its neck joyfully ...  old dog was under  elderly owner's chair ..semi dark evening ..owner deep in conversation ...turned away ... many apologies , a distraught owner ... and a family who said .."it's OK .. we didn't watch kid  enough ..he has learned a valuable lesson ... "  Child ended up with quite a few stitches , and a lip which could have been featured in a zombie movie ! ;) I so love sensible people .

I do feel for all involved in this ... :(:(

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9 minutes ago, juice said:

Didn’t Melwez ? Spelling is wrong I think have a lot to do with this subject ?

Also you could shoot Steve at k9 pro an email , think he has dealt with some too . There is one on my news feed this morning , dog caught child in face by accident and it was seized as owners didn’t comply with all the dangerous dog restrictions in time and its been at RSPCA for 7 months while they fight it . 

This would be a priority! 
http://k9protraining.com.au/2011/03/07/dogs-vs-the-law-dangerous-dog-declarations-and-you/

 

If you think you may be in trouble…

  • Don’t antagonise the other dog’s owner
  • Don’t argue with council, it’s just their job
  • Don’t pretend the problem doesn’t exist
  • DON’T euthanize your dog!

CALL US 02 45 789 789

Keep your dog in your yard until you speak to us

With some help from us, we can often help seemingly impossible situations turn around most times.

 

 

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Tassie   

Tough situation, but as usual the DOL hive mind has come up with good ideas.    I have to say I agree with RuralPug about the need for mental stimulation being a higher priority than  lots of free running, especially for working dogs .. my experience is with Border Collies, but I'd say it's true of Kelpies.    It may be a little hard for the family to do, with very small children, but hopefully they can manage it.

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What a sad situation.  I'm pretty sure you can't legally rehome a dog that has been declared Dangerous?  

 

I'm sure that one of my dogs would bite if a child fell onto him, he's a cruelty case and if he thinks he's going to be hurt he will lash out, a child falling onto a dog would be terrifying, they wouldn't understand what was going on and in their fright would possibly bite.

 

It will be a battle whichever way they decide to go but if the dangerous declaration stays then i would abide by the regulations but within my yard i would provide enrichment (could add agility equipment / ball play etc) and exercise with on leash walking for a good distance, depending on the dog's requirements.  

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True, you can't even rehome a nuisance order dog. Fortunately those orders only last 6 months. 

 

I think with planning and determination they can make it work if the order is upheld. Like Dogmad says, enrichment and walks. There's a lot of dogs including working breeds in my area (inner west of the city) who manage quite well with that lifestyle. :)  Even as cafe dogs.

 

Some use the off leash but not all, probably because Sydney Park has areas dogs can just disappear into and wildlife that can be upset.

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4 hours ago, juice said:

Didn’t Melwez ? Spelling is wrong I think have a lot to do with this subject ?

Also you could shoot Steve at k9 pro an email , think he has dealt with some too . There is one on my news feed this morning , dog caught child in face by accident and it was seized as owners didn’t comply with all the dangerous dog restrictions in time and its been at RSPCA for 7 months while they fight it . 

Yep, tagging @melzawelza in case she can pop in. :) 

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This is an often repeated scenario, especially in summer. Rellies, friends come over for a barbie or pool party bringing along their boisterous, screaming children; dog gets exited, startled, toes stepped on, petted on a hotspot or sore ear, gets protective his family's children, wants yummy food a child is eating, gets protective of his territory because he/ she is chained up in a corner of the yard etc. Result = bitten child and much acrimony

5a4f0a42a2eef_SDSCMESSAGE(23).thumb.jpg.767ebcbd746d34387233e0d51dc6f7ee.jpg

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ness   

Sorry to hear about the sad situation -

An option which is local might be to contact Tracey Henderson/Australian Veterinary Behavior Services - https://www.avbs.net.au/

It won't be cheap but they do have a plan established for dogs who have had orders placed on them. They are a local Adelaide based service.

https://www.avbs.net.au/our-consultations/dangerous-dog-behaviour-consultation

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Thanks all.  Update - the owner has put in calls to ADO and K9Pro.  ADO said they hadn't done an SA case before but would look into it and get back to her tomorrow.  Similarly Steve from K9Pro is on leave but his colleague was going to try and get back to her tomorrow too.  I'll send AVBS  details on as well - thanks Ness and PK - once we have all the info and opinions we can go from there - hopefully Monday or Tuesday.  Thanks everyone - really appreciate your help.  Its hard being objective when you are friends with the family and the dog. 

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On 05/01/2018 at 3:48 PM, Tempus Fugit said:

This is an often repeated scenario, especially in summer. Rellies, friends come over for a barbie or pool party bringing along their boisterous, screaming children; dog gets exited, startled, toes stepped on, petted on a hotspot or sore ear, gets protective his family's children, wants yummy food a child is eating, gets protective of his territory because he/ she is chained up in a corner of the yard etc. Result = bitten child and much acrimony

5a4f0a42a2eef_SDSCMESSAGE(23).thumb.jpg.767ebcbd746d34387233e0d51dc6f7ee.jpg

Yep thanks TF - sadly that about sums it up.  You know I trust my westies implicitly - but not around small children.  I hover like a hawke if there are small kids around - or parents I don't trust to effectively supervise. And the number of those I've come across is frightening.  

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On 05/01/2018 at 1:13 PM, Her Majesty Dogmad said:

What a sad situation.  I'm pretty sure you can't legally rehome a dog that has been declared Dangerous?  

 

I'm sure that one of my dogs would bite if a child fell onto him, he's a cruelty case and if he thinks he's going to be hurt he will lash out, a child falling onto a dog would be terrifying, they wouldn't understand what was going on and in their fright would possibly bite.

 

It will be a battle whichever way they decide to go but if the dangerous declaration stays then i would abide by the regulations but within my yard i would provide enrichment (could add agility equipment / ball play etc) and exercise with on leash walking for a good distance, depending on the dog's requirements.  

Hi HRD, not sure about other states but I think if I read the  SA Act correctly, yes you can rehome a declared dangerous dog here in SA but the new owner must be fully informed of the order and the order follows the dog.  Councils then are informed and on and on it goes.  So yes its possible but its also a big deal.

Edited by westiemum
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