Stanley – A Better Quality Of Life

Posted Tuesday August 16, 2016 by Mel Isaacs

Stanley and kids

Meet handsome big lug Stanley.

His owner Lauren has been a senior vet nurse for over 12 years, foster carer, and general all round awesome animal person.

Stanley has been in the family since he was a pup. He lives with three young kids, four cats and numerous foster dogs, big and small. He has never shown any aggression issues around other dogs, and is always well contained.

A few weeks ago Stanley and the family’s other small dog managed to escape the yard. As soon as Lauren realised she was out looking for them, and called her local council, Bathurst, to let them know.

Unfortunately while out Stanley attacked a small dog, and injured it. Thankfully there was only some punctures that required stitching. This is worth considering given the enormous size difference between the two dogs.  Stanley was not aggressive to any people during the attack or afterwards when the ranger seized him. The little dog’s owner was knocked over during the attack, injuring herself.

Saying Lauren was shocked and devastated is an understatement. Unfortunately our dogs can behave very differently when in public without us. She immediately set about doing all she could to make it right;

  • Covering all vet bills
  • Desexing Stanley the day after the incident (Lauren & her vet had made the legitimate decision to keep him entire until he was fully grown, due to the potential risk of compromising joints when desexing giant breed dogs before maturity)
  • Purchasing a lockable steel run to keep Stanley secure in until yard works were completed
  • Concreting sleepers deep in to the ground along the fence line
  • Purchasing a pingg string boundary fence
  • Purchasing a muzzle for when Stanley is off the property
  • Seeking a behaviourist for an assessment and ongoing behaviour plan for Stanley

StanleyThe council appreciated her immediate actions. They were helpful in explaining to her that she would likely receive a Notice of Intention to declare Stanley to be a ‘Dangerous Dog’. Lauren was happy to comply with all the restrictions for a ‘Menacing dog’ (such as a muzzle & leash in public, warning signs on the property, a warning collar, desexing and a secure yard), but a Dangerous dog declaration also requires the building of a large enclosure or cage that the dog must be in at all times unless leashed, muzzled and collared. Stanley is a loved family dog that rarely sleeps outside. Lauren and her partner rent, meaning that building a permanent structure on a concrete slab is basically out of the question. The enclosure also typically costs thousands of dollars to build.

Lauren immediately got in contact. She needed advice on everything she needed to know about the process and how to best make sure she is doing the right thing by both the council and the community. She hoped to have the order downgraded to menacing rather than dangerous.

I gave her advice about her different options, starting with her representations to council. Lauren had written great represenations, and we hoped that the council would see that the enclosure wasn’t necessary for Stanley. She also had a behaviour assessment done with Andrew at Total Dog, which was overwhelmingly very positive. Andrew’s given Lauren lots to work with going forward to improve control with Stanley.

We then played the waiting game. I told Lauren that if council declared Stanley Dangerous, she could lodge an appeal with the local court. Hopefully we could then negotiate a control order instead, like we did with Boss & Bella.

“I need people to know that even the best of dogs and owners can have this happen, and that there is help. Even though I’m in the dog industry I still needed the help to navigate the process and to give my boy the best possible chance” ~Lauren

StanleyThe Outcome

Thankfully it didn’t come to that. The council ranger, Michael, instead downgraded to a Menacing order. He thanked Lauren for everything she had done and how seriously she had taken this. He said she was one in a hundred – most people won’t work with the council and deny everything. It was Lauren’s behaviour and swift actions that saw a better result for Stanley.

We put our hands up and did everything we needed to do . That is the BIG difference and sometimes the thing that changes the whole course of events. ~Lauren

We’re so happy that Lauren had such a reasonable and positive experience with the council. We really congratulate the ranger Michael in particular for his professionalism. This is what good Animal Management looks like – action needs to be taken after dog attacks, but it needs to be proportionate and take in to account the whole picture, including what the owner has done to prevent it happening again.

Council can revoke the Menacing dog declaration any time after 12 months have passed. Hopefully they might consider it in the future if Lauren can demonstrate ongoing behaviour work and good management of Stanley.

We won’t provide this level of help to those who aren’t taking their dog’s behaviour seriously, so it’s been a pleasure to help someone like Lauren get a good outcome for both her dog and the community.

Live in NSW and need help? Contact us.



Mel Isaacs

Mel Isaacs

Director at Team Dog Inc
Mel is co-Founder and Director of Team Dog Inc, a registered charity working to support pet owners in need and in times of crisis.

She has a keen interest in advocacy, particularly around topics such as effective animal management and the ineffectiveness of Breed Specific Legislation.

She has a dog and two cats, all rescues, who she loves dearly.
Mel Isaacs

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