Have you or someone you know been attacked by a dog? Are you concerned about dog attacks occurring in your neighbourhood? This post outlines your rights and protections under NSW law in relation to dog attacks.
In New South Wales, the main law that deals with the control of domestic animals is the Companion Animals Act 1998 and the Companion Animals Regulation 2008. They set out the obligations of pet owners and grant local councils a variety of powers to deal with animals in their local areas.
What is the role of your local council?
Under NSW law, dogs must be identified and registered. On the other hand, local councils are empowered to deal with a lot of the issues that prevent animals causing harm to people and property in residential areas, such as dog attacks.
An authorised local council officer has the authority to impose criminal penalties, or fines under the Companion Animals Act should a dog attack, chase or injure a person. The situation is considered exceptional if the dog was provoked first.
Local councils may also impose behavioural training of a dog considered to be a nuisance or dangerous to prevent, or at least reduce, the possibility of it attacking people. Failure to comply with these or any other control orders may result in a fine of up to $11,000.
5 Dog issues where local council can intervene
Some of the issues that may be resolved with the intervention of your local council include:
1) Dog attacks on private property
If a dog attacks a person on the dog owner’s property, the victim has the right to sue the owner in certain circumstances. The owner may be liable to pay $5,500 in fines and the animal may be seized and secured.
2) Dog attacks in public places
If a dog attacks a person in a public place, any injury to the victim or damage to property will need to be covered by its owner. If it is proven that the owner instigated the dog to rush at or attack another person, the owner may then face disqualification from either owning a dog or being in charge of one in a public place for up to 5 years.
3) Dangerous dogs
Offences involving dogs that are considered dangerous or restricted involve heavier penalties for their owners. There are specific requirements for such animals like wearing a distinctive collar, de-sexing the dog, or housing it in a proper enclosure with visible signs showing where the animal is kept.
If a restricted dog is outside its enclosure, it must be on a leash and muzzled. Owners or persons in charge of such dogs should be older than 18 years of age.
Not meeting these regulations can result in the animal being seized and the owner being fined up to $16,500. If the same animal bites or attacks a person because these regulations were neglected, its owner may be disqualified for life from owning another dog or being in charge of a dog on public premises.
4) Trespassing or wandering dogs
It is considered an offence for a dog to be outside its owner’s premises and without supervision. If the dog causes damage to a neighbour’s property, the owner may be liable to pay for the damage. In the case of wandering dogs, the local council may be contacted to collect the animal and place it in the pound.
5) Barking dogs
A pet dog is considered a nuisance if it is barking consistently. The resulting noise may be loud enough to interfere with the neighbourhood’s peace or disturb the convenience of other persons in the vicinity.
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