Dog rescue fines a ‘death sentence’

• Animal photographer Alex Cearns says a Stirling council suggestion to fine rescue services if a re-homed dogs attacks someone, is unfair.

DOG rescue services would be fined if a re-homed animal attacked someone, under a recommendation from the City of Stirling.

The McGowan government is currently poring over 66 submissions to its “Pause for Paws” consultation on changes to WA’s Dog and Cat acts, with a report due to be tabled in parliament in November.

Stirling’s submission, which appears not to have been considered by councillors before being lodged by a staffer,  wants tighter dog attack laws “due to the increase in dog attacks from inappropriate dogs released to unsuitable owners”.

It says there should be “penalties for organisations involved in the assessment or re-homing of ‘rescue’ dogs that are subsequently involved in serious dog attacks”.


Animal lover and dog photographer Alex Cearns, who runs Houndstooth Studio on Edward Street, Perth, spotted the submission and is concerned it could be a “death sentence” for hundreds of dogs.

“How can a rescue be responsible for what happens to a dog for the duration of its life once it’s adopted,” she queried.

Ms Cearns photographs animals for rescue organisations to make them look adorable and adoptable, and this year received an OAM for her charitable work. She says the onus must be on the dog’s owner.

“If a dog is adopted to someone who agrees to certain on-lead walking requirements or set types of socialisation [or] boundaries with other dogs, how can a rescue then be responsible if that owner doesn’t fulfil their agreed requirements later on?

“How long after a dog is adopted is a rescue responsible, if at all?

“Most rescues are pretty transparent when adopting out dogs, when it comes to specifying the dogs temperament and requirements — and the adoptee signs on the dotted line in relation to accepting and managing these things.”

Maylands MP Lisa Baker says she couldn’t support Stirling’s submission.

“I do not think it’s appropriate for them to be shifting responsibilities onto charitable rescue and rehoming groups.”

Ms Baker has made her own submission, and wants the new act to require all councils to  provide better information when they hand over dogs to rescue services.

Stirling’s community development director Michael Quirk said rescuers could ensure dogs were safe by carrying out behaviour assessments, providing new owners with the background and history of the dog, and requiring the dog to be registered.


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