Dogged by Covid

Power Pooches' Jake Cini and Sasha, who are advocating for increased education for dog owners. 240150_04

By Eleanor Wilson

A Berwick dog trainer is calling for increased education and training for dog owners and their pooches following a series of recent dog attacks in the City of Casey.

Jake Cini, who owns dog training business Power Pooches, said preventing dog attacks from occurring “has to start with education”.

He said the wave of ‘pandemic pets’ who had not been socialised as puppies was an issue that couldn’t be ignored by owners or council.

“I can’t believe there has been no mention about Covid dogs,” he said.

“We all know people who bought dogs during Covid who couldn’t be socialised properly due to restrictions, yet our council does nothing about it.

“They provide no education whatsoever, yet they have thousands of dollars in pet registration fees.”

Mr Cini, who started his dog training business after noticing the need for specialised services for his dog Sasha, said he had personally offered to provide free training for dog owners to prevent dog attacks in the municipality, but the council turned down the offer.

“Most people see a wagging tail and they think of a happy dog, but that is not the case at all,” Mr Cini said.

“I want to be able to walk down the street and not have a fear of dogs rushing us or owners abusing us.”

It comes after a series of dog attacks in the City of Casey in recent months.

Two dogs were seized by Casey Council officers last week after a young girl and her dog were injured in a vicious attack near Berwick Fields Primary School.

The attack occurred in Bellevue Drive, Berwick around 8am on Wednesday 27 July after the dogs allegedly escaped from a nearby property.

A 12-year-old girl was rushed to Casey hospital where she underwent surgery for injuries to her hand.

The family’s nine-year-old dog Lloyd also underwent a six-hour operation for injuries he sustained in the attack.

The school girl and her parents are understood to be mentally shaken by the attack, but are grateful their dog and daughter are alive.

City of Casey manager of safer communities Daniel Osborne said the matter remains an active investigation.

One month earlier, a three-year-old Spitz Dog was mauled to death in a Cranbourne West backyard by a pair of neighbouring Greyhounds, after they also escaped from their property.

While Mr Cini is advocating for education in the sphere, Mr Osborne said keeping dogs secure on properties was a key measure in preventing attacks.

“Evidence shows that most dog attacks and dog rushes occur when dogs are not contained to their property,” he said.

“Dogs that have not been adequately socialised with other animals are also more likely to demonstrate aggression if they find themselves not contained to their property, which can lead to instances of dog attacks.

“Keeping your dogs securely confined to your property, and ensuring they are always under effective control when out, are key measures to keep your pets and the community safe.”

He said pet registration fees help council provide a number of services, including reuniting lost pets with owners, investigating dog attacks, puppy farms, and prosecuting offending owners.

Mr Osborne added that registrations fees were also used for education programs on responsible pet ownership, including road shows and events, the Maternal and Child Health Centre’s We Are Family program and education in schools on safety around animals.

But Mr Cini said he remained sceptical about council’s investment in education for dog owners.

“A lot of people are misinformed about the reasons their dog might have social issues,” he said.

“We have to have proper education programs…why not give [owners] a quick online test or a copy of the legal requirement of owning a dog when they register their pets?”

In 2020/21, there was a total of 237 reported dog attacks in the City of Casey, 151 of the attacks on dogs and 51 attacks on humans.