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Local Laws Officer Peter McVeigh receiving dog training

Dog ownership a serious responsibility

News Article Date: 
Tuesday, 22 August 2017

When confronted by three aggressive dogs recently, Warrnambool City Council Local Laws Officer Peter McVeigh’s training kicked in.

“I knew that it was important to hold an object between the dogs and me to give them something to latch on to,” Mr McVeigh said. 

“I used a large diary I was holding to fend off the lead dog before the owner heard the commotion and called them off.

“We had recently completed a training course, so I stayed pretty calm, but most people in the community would not have that level of situational understanding.”
While Mr McVeigh was able to call on his experience and training to defuse the situation, it could have been a different outcome had the dogs had turned their attentions to a more vulnerable subject, such as a child.

Mr McVeigh’s ordeal began with a call that advised him three dogs were loose in the area.

“If instead of a Local Laws Officer it had been a couple of kids selling raffle tickets door-to-door, I’d hate to think about what might have happened,” Mr McVeigh said.

It was the fifth reported dog attack either on a human or on another animal in the past month and the 27th of the past year of which 11 were attacks on people. 

Local Laws Coordinator Peter McArdle said there would have been many more attacks that simply weren’t reported.

“Owning a dog is a serious commitment, not just to the dog itself, but to the wider community,” he said.

“Dogs provide an enormous benefit to people through companionship and by encouraging them to get more exercise, but as the owner, it is your responsibility to manage your dog’s behaviour. 

“Unfortunately when officers are investigating incidents they are often told by upset owners ‘this is the first time something like this has happened.’

“You need to make sure that your dog is kept secure on your property and if using a designated off-leash area, you must be able to maintain voice control at all times.

“You also need to provide your dog with appropriate training and get to know its body language.

“If a dog begins acting aggressively towards you, back away without making eye contact or making any loud noises. If you can, hold an object between you and the dog such as a jacket or a handbag.”

Anyone who encounters a stray dog can call Council on 5559 4800.

“As you can imagine, dogs can travel a fair distance between the initial call and our Local Laws Officers arriving, so if possible, we really appreciate it when callers are able to maintain visual contact with the dog, from a safe distance, until we arrive,” Mr McArdle said.

“This helps us get the dog off the street more quickly, which is good for the safety of the public and the dog itself."

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