A Saturday afternoon romp at an off-leash beach in Port Melbourne, Australia for an energetic, fun-filled puppy play period, culminated with a rather hefty fine for a dog owner. Maudie, a seven-month-old English Staffordshire terrier, had been playfully jumping and running with a bunch of other active pooches for the final exercise of the day, when proper canine rules of behavior were called into question.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Neil McMahon had been at the beach with Maudie and watching the dogs happily interacting. There was a woman with a baby on the off-leash dog beach; the baby had been lying on a blanket in the sand. Maudie ran over to check things out – as puppies often do, and momentarily licked the baby – causing no harm and was immediately called away. That however, began the drama. The woman immediately reacted and called the police screaming, “A dog has attacked my baby.”
When the police arrived, they interviewed the woman and Neil; the questionable action and the fine that would result continues to baffle even the most conservative dog owners. And by now, you’re asking what was Maudie’s crime? It seems Neil failed to maintain “effective control” of his dog and was therefore fined $238. Consider the beach where the dogs romped is an off-leash area, but obviously dogs better learn to heed the rules. So pay attention to what “effective control” covers:
- “Effective control” means a dog must return to their owner upon command. (100% of the time)
- “Effective control” means an owner must “retain a clear and unobstructed view of the dog” at all times. (Don’t let your pooch get into the tall grasses while pursuing a stick)
- “Effective control” means a dog “does not bother, attack, worry or interfere with other people or animals.” (Eliminate the obvious of “attack” but how does anyone define the “worry, bother or interfere” jargon?)
Neil’s dog had been in violation of the “worry” clause that lasted all of a few seconds, and the moment Maudie made her way over, she was called right back and so obeyed. Somehow she did succeed (bad doggy) in licking the baby’s chest for a second. The baby was not harmed; no doctors or first-aid were called, and although the child’s mother became excited, the baby didn’t react.
Perhaps question why a mother who is likely afraid of dogs would take her baby to an off-leash dog beach – surely there are beaches in the area where pets are prohibited? Some days we all have to question who makes these laws?
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(Photo via Neil McMahon from Sydney Morning Herald)