The owner of a dangerous dog that mauled and seriously injured a woman at Byron Bay’s Roadhouse café in July has been jailed for six months after appearing in Byron Bay local court on Friday.
It’s believed to be the first time in NSW that a dog owner had been sentenced to jail as a result of a dog attack.
Adam Coates was given the jail term after his conviction for failing to comply with a previous court order as the owner of a ‘menacing dog’. He had pleaded guilty.
Coates’ mastiff dog bit a 30-year-old woman on the nose at the café he is part owner of.
The woman had to undergo reconstructive surgery in Gold Coast University Hospital.
Byron Shire Council’s legal services coordinator, Ralph James, told Echonetdaily the dog had previously been declared menacing and Coates’s failure to comply with menacing-dog control requirements had ‘facilitated the attack’.
Mr James said the dog should have been muzzled and on a lead.
The animal, a pure bred Cane Corso, is known as a vicious breed, ans was put down on the same day of the attack.
The dog had been declared menacing in November 2014 as a result of an attack on another dog.
Mr James said Friday’s conviction ‘sends a strong message to dog owners that responsible pet ownership is vital’.
‘The government has made it extremely clear that dog owners have high standards of responsibility and if they fail to meet those standards, they will face stiff penalties matching with the severity of their conduct,’ he said.
‘The severe penalties drive home the message that the community will no longer accept that dog attacks are some kind of unfortunate accident.
‘The responsibility is with the dog owner or other person in control of the dog,’ Mr James said.
The dog owner is being assessed to serve his sentence by home detention.
Mr James said offenders on a home detention order are subject to extensive and rigorous conditions.
‘The worrying concern about the attack, is that it could have very easily have been avoided with responsible pet ownership,’ Mr James said
“We have a young person who received very serious injuries which are equivalent to grievous bodily harm as a result of the attack.
‘The attack and its physical consequences have caused significant psychological trauma. It was all totally avoidable.
‘We implore dog owners to think about their actions and the consequences of a pet that is not properly controlled.
‘Byron Shire is very fortunate in its great weather, outdoor lifestyle and the many options for off leash dog free areas.
‘But even at an off leash area or public spaces, we are seeing too many reports of dogs rushing at people or other pets,’ he said.
Mr James reported that dangerous/menacing dogs and dog attacks are a council compliance priority.
He urged all dog owners to ensure that dogs do not roam, are housed in a secure yard and are under the control of a responsible adult when out in public.
‘Please keep your dog under control so we avoid another tragic incident like the one in court last week. Pet owners face heavy fines and a goal sentence if they are found not complying,’ he said.