Your Responsibility as a Dog Owner When in a Public Place: What the Law Says NSW

Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.

 

Readers, this one’s a tear-jerker, so you may want to keep a box of tissues ready.

It is with great sadness we report to you that Freddie Mercury The Seal, London’s beloved pup, has had to be put down after being attacked by an “out of control” dog in the city’s south-west.

On Sunday 12 March 2020, 10-month-old Freddie Mercury was basking along the Thames towpath near Hammersmith Bridge when he was mauled by a vicious dog that was not placed on a lead by its owner, leaving the seal with “serious” injuries.

Four people passing by, coincidentally among them a vet, rushed over to try to meddle the dog’s jaws off Freddie Mercury and pull the dog away.

However, the damage had been done and the injuries were too severe.

The seal’s wounds included a bite to his right flipper, a broken bone, as well as dislocation and damage to his joints, ligaments and nerves.

Freddie Mercury was promptly attended to by medics who did their best to treat his wounds.

However, upon advice from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), the seal’s wounds were so bad that it became “impossible” to successfully treat the seal and return him to the wild.

As a result, BDMLR faced no choice but to euthanise the poor seal pup.

Alan Knight OBE, CEO of the charity organisation, addressed the tragedy.

In a statement, Mr Knight said, “Freddie was a wild seal and after the ferocious attack on Sunday he suffered a serious broken and dislocated flipper”.

He continued advising the organisation had contacted one of the UK’s leading orthopaedic surgeons, who unfortunately informed of an “extremely poor” prognosis, meaning “the only option was to euthanise the seal”.

Freddie Mercury The Seal was named after the Queen singer after he entertained people near Hammersmith Bridge in Barnes.

He had arrived in the area only the previous month, but in that time brought bounds of delight to the locals and was regularly spotted sunbathing on the bank at low tide to the pleasure of riverside walkers in Barnes, Teddington and Putney.

In fact, Freddie Mercury had become something of a national treasure after making his debut appearance on This Morning, followed by appearances on various other news channels.

Indeed, one fundraiser for the care, protection and rescue of the seal following the attack said he “brought much needed joy and smiles” to the community.

  

Owner of Dog that Mauled Freddie Mercury The Seal Says she is “Heartbroken” That Beloved Seal Pup Had to be Put Down

Following the incident, the owner of the dog that attacked Freddie Mercury spoke out, saying she is “heartbroken” that the cherished seal pup who captured the hearts of Londoners had to be put down after enduring serious wounds during the attack.

Rebecca Sabben-Clare QC, a commercial barrister, said she wanted to “apologise unreservedly” for the “terrible accident”.

She expressed deep regret that her pet had not been placed on a lead.

Meanwhile, an update on the BDMLR Facebook page offered thanks to the broader community concerned by Freddie Mercury’s case and for the “huge outpouring of support” that followed.

“We are all absolutely gutted to hear about the extent of the injuries Freddie suffered, and highlights yet again the serious problems that can arise when humans and dogs encounter wild animals,” the BDMLR Facebook page said.

“We hope that his story will go a long way to helping educate people to look up and follow the appropriate guidelines for how to behave respectfully around wild animals and not cause disturbance or worse to them.”

The post added, “All we can hope now is that people can learn from this and help keep our wildlife safe”.

Your Responsibility as a Dog Owner When in a Public Place: What the Law Says

While most pet owners think their pooch is the best boy or girl out there, when you are in a public place with your furry friend, they can actually pose as a danger to those around you, whether it be other people or even animals.

Indeed, this a reflection of dogs’ instinctual hunting nature, meaning that you can never be sure when they may suddenly attack.

Accordingly, there are specific laws in place that enforces responsibility on the part of the dog owner when you are in a public place and where your dog attacks another person or an animal.

Specifically, if you are in NSW, when you are in a public place with your dog, as per section 13 of the Companion Animals Act 1998, your dog must be under the effective control of a competent person, either with an adequate chain, leash or cord attached to the dog while it is held or secured by the person.

A breach of this attracts a maximum penalty up to $1,100 fine, in the case where the dog is not declared a dangerous, menacing, or restricted dog.

However, where your dog is identified as dangerous, menacing, or restricted, the maximum penalty increases to up to a fine of $11,000.

It should be noted also that according section 13, any person (including an authorised officer), can seize a dog that is in a public place in contravention the aforementioned.

If the owner of the dog is present, the dog cannot be seized except by an authorised officer and only then if the contravention continues after the owner has been told of the contravention.

The owner of the dog in such a context includes the person who is for the time being in charge of the dog.

Additionally, it should be noted that a dog is not considered to be under the effective control of a person if the person has more than four dogs under his or her control.

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