Who let the dogs out?

If you’ve ever been bitten by a dog I’m willing to bet it’s an experience you haven’t forgotten. Chances are that every time you see the scar you remember the painful wound left by the canine teeth ripping into your flesh.

You remember the trip to the hospital to get patched up, and you remember the injections you received as a precaution against disease. But most of all, you probably remember that moment of fear just before the bite – when you could see the animal approaching, teeth bared and growling.

For me this exact experience happened in my first year on the job, when I was out door knocking around Woolloongabba. I had just taken a ‘Break and Enter’ report and was checking to see if any of the victim’s neighbours had witnessed any unusual behaviour.

I knocked on one neighbour’s door and, when it opened, I could see a long hallway stretching about 15 metres. A split second later my eyes caught movement at the end of the hallway, and then everything seemed to go in slow motion.

A large German Shepherd started bounding down the hallway towards me and (being particularly brave) I started to turn to run away. The last thing I remember (before the dog latched onto my buttocks) was the owner saying, “Don’t worry, it won’t bite”.

Now when this happened – almost 20 years ago – I was a fully-grown man, armed with all my police paraphernalia – and although I only sustained a relatively superficial wound, I still remember the incident clearly.

Therefore I can only imagine the pain, fear and terror that a 10-year-old local lad endured recently, when he was set upon by two large dogs.

This poor kid was just taking his dog for a walk when suddenly two large, unrestrained dogs appeared and attacked. Fortunately, a passing motorist was able to get the dogs off the child – but not before he sustained serious injuries to his lower leg, requiring surgery and a lengthy period of rehabilitation (both physically and mentally).

Now I love dogs – they really can be man’s best friend, but dog ownership requires a commitment. As a dog owner you are legally responsible for your pet and its actions, and it is your responsibility to ensure that your animal is effectively restrained, both at your home, and also when out in public.

The Gympie Regional Council is the authority that regulates dog ownership through its ‘Local Laws’ – which detail how domestic animals should be kept. They have officers who patrol the Cooloola Coast responding to incidents, but also proactively collecting unrestrained dogs because they consider wandering animals ‘a dog attack waiting to happen’.

The laws are there to ensure community safety and if you adequately control and contain your dog you’ll have no problems – but if you’re happy to let your animal roam the streets, you may find it missing one day and it could cost you over $300 to get it back.

Michael Brantz

Rainbow Beach Police