Council's claim is faulty
THE Fraser Coast Regional Council's claim that it can never release information on dangerous dog attacks is faulty.
According to Privacy Commissioner of Queensland Lemm Ex all they needed to do was to change their animal control policy in line with what a number of other Queensland councils had done.
The council's policy came under scrutiny following a recent attack in Wondunna in which a family watched a pair of canines tear their dog, cat and five chickens apart in a suburban backyard.
Mr Ex said local governments could make information on their investigations publicly available and still work within the privacy laws if they put the correct policy in place.
He said the only reason the Privacy Act blocked information going out to people was if council had an underdeveloped policy that controlled the flow of information.
"If you are going to be naming and shaming (dangerous dog owners), you have to make sure that everybody knows that is the deal," Mr Ex said.
"You have to have clear policy, well communicated, as to what information you will be giving out and when. If that is up-front you can still comply with the obligations under the Privacy Act.
"But this may not be a choice that council's want to make."
He said there was a strong argument the public interest in what happened to such dogs and the penalties faced by owners out weighed privacy factors.
But Mr Ex also suggested a council was acting appropriately when it withheld personal information about the owners of a dangerous dog.
"It is correct that, in general, information about individuals that have a dog declared dangerous can't be disclosed to anybody but the individuals," he said.
"The notification system is the problem - if there is public access to the information included as part of the process from the beginning there is no problem with the information flowing.
"The provisions of the dog act have to be followed in regard to compliance issues."
The Fraser Coast Council came in for strong criticism from the owner of the pets killed at Wondunna recently.
Shane Horton said he had been left in the dark as to what was happening with the two dogs that killed his pets.
He received a call in recent days but only to be told he couldn't be given any information.