Owner Responsibilities

It is important that all dog owners raise their pets appropriately and have respect for others in the community. This can be achieved by keeping dogs adequately confined on their properties, on a leash in public places, preventing aggressive behaviour and controlling excessive barking.

The Dog Act 1976 is administered and enforced by local governments within their respective districts. The Act addresses the control and registration of dogs; the ownership and keeping of dogs; and the obligations and rights of dog owners and others.

Everyone who is a dog owner has a responsibility to ensure that his or her dog is well looked after.

Dog control

If you own a dog, you have a legal responsibility to keep it under control.

Fencing – The premise to which the dog is regularly kept will satisfactorily contain the dog.

Public – On a leash and held by a person capable of control the dog.

 Off leash only in designated areas and able to be controlled by voice command.

Dog attacks

A dog attack is a very serious matter. If your dog attacks a person or another animal, you will be held responsible even if you are not there at the time.

Serious dog attacks

Recent amendments to the Act have introduced separate penalties for a serious dog attack where physical injury occurs, and a minor dog attack where no physical injury occurs.

This means that a dog attack can include a dog aggressively rushing at or attempting to attack a person or animal, as well as tearing clothing, biting or causing physical injury.

Court imposed penalties

Court imposed penalties for dog attacks range from $3,000 to $20,000 depending on the seriousness of the attack and whether the dog is known to be dangerous. A local government may also choose to issue an infringement notice.

If you urge your dog to attack, you may receive a penalty of up to $10,000 and 12 months imprisonment, or $20,000 and 2 years imprisonment for dangerous dogs.

You may have a defence if your dog is provoked, attacked or abused, or if someone unlawfully enters your premises, including a private residence or vehicle.

 Local governments may seek a court order for a dog to be destroyed if it has attacked and caused injury or damage.

Liability for injury or damage

The dog’s owner is also liable for any injury or damage resulting from a dog attack. A person who has been attacked may take private legal action for any injury or damage.

Preventing dog attacks

To reduce the potential for dog attacks, dog owners should:

  •     Limit the risky genetics (select an appropriate breed).
  •     Understand the animal.
  •     Train the animal.
  •     Limit the risky circumstances (restrain the animal in potential attack situations).

Dogs barking

As a dog owner, you are responsible for ensuring that your dog is not creating a public nuisance by barking excessively. Nuisance barking also covers public places adjoining the premises.

More information found in FAQs.

Removal of dog excreta

Dog droppings are a source of annoyance to other users of footpaths and recreation areas. The person in charge of the dog in a public place is required to remove their dog’s droppings and adequately dispose of it. Penalties of $200 will be issued if not adhered to.

Your dog MUST be microchipped

• Under legislation all dogs must now be microchipped.

Roaming dogs

Dogs that roam are potentially a public safety risk to motorists, pedestrians and other animals. Irresponsible owners will be liable for any injuries or damage caused by their dog.

Dog attacks on adults are caused mostly by dogs roaming outside their owners’ properties. Children who come into contact with roaming dogs at parks and other public places are more vulnerable to dog attacks.

Keep your dog adequately confined on your property and follow the rules of responsible pet ownership to help prevent your dog attacking someone.

Roaming dogs often approach and sometimes attack other dogs.

Everyone is entitled to walk in their neighbourhood without being harassed or attacked by uncontrolled and often quite frightening dogs.

Even if your dog is well behaved, it can be frightening to other people if it is roaming unattended.

Although you may think your dog is unlikely to attack a person, roaming dogs often approach and sometimes attack other dogs. Responsible pet owners and their dogs are often targets of these attacks.