QLD Dog Fight - Who Is Liable For Animal Attacks?

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30 December 2014
I will first descibe everything I can about the situation (essentially: one animal attacks another).

We had just washed my dog (A boxer/mastif cross) in our back garden and so he was off leash as to not get his collar rusty and such. Unaware that the neibours dogs (Staffodshire Terriors) were being let outside while we were out still we let him stay off leash for 5 or so minutes with someone out to watch him. While at the fence line the neibours dogs began to aggress our dog at which point our dog reacted. The fence is a short chickenwire type fence and our dog easily leaned over and bit into the back on the other dogs neck. after about 10 secconds we separated the dogs and no major injuries happened (some small punctures on their dog at worst). After this their owner continious to yell abuse at both me and my mother saying how he will come over the fence and attack me and such and generally spouting vile language at us.

Now, his dogs are highly agressive to both people and dogs and often are at the fence growling and barking and so on. Quoting what he told us when we moved in (Dont reach your hand past the fence ever our dogs will take your hand off) and such. Yet he knowingly leaves his dogs out in the yard off leash and unattended most of the time most days. For that reason when we let our dog out into the gardern we keep him on a long leash. As stated before he wasnt this time because we were bathing him.

Now, he threatened all kinds of things from large vet bills, having our dog removed or put down, and so on. My legal question is does he have a leg to stand on?

He knowing has agressive dogs free roaming his garden off leash and a very poor quality fence. We always have ours tied up and only had him untied for cleaning and at what point his dogs were inside anyway. I feel like simply because our dog was the one that one would say came out better in the fight he deems us in the wrong.

Sarah J

Well-Known Member
16 July 2014
Melbourne, Victoria
Hi ToberTobias,

I am not an expert in this area of law, however, I do know that if the owner was negligent in not properly keeping their dog trained/leashed, then any damage caused by their dog will be attributed to the owners. Here, the question is whether you were negligent or failing some level of standard of care toward your neighbour's dog and/or whether your neighbour was similarly negligent. Given that their dog began the aggravation and that their dog is aggressive in nature, I would say that their owner was also at fault.

In relation to known aggressive dogs (e.g. dogs that have attacked before), their owners need to take extra precautions as they owe a higher duty of care. If they do not, you can contact the council to complain.

Victoria S

Well-Known Member
9 April 2014
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Hi Tobertobias,

Further to the above comments, owners are responsible for the physical restraint of their own animals and if they cause damage to another person or animal, you may incur a fine, increased dog registration fees, or your dog might be declared dangerous or menacing which will require it to be subject to additional strict controls and rules. In some cases the party suffering harm can bring a civil suit against you or the council can prosecute you.

Obviously in your situation, it sounds as though you are responsible with your dog most of the time and are not negligent in this respect and it is your neighbour who is not restraining his dogs sufficiently. However, at the end of the day your dog caused harm to their dogs and they therefore have grounds for compliant. If they were to do so however you could allege contributory negligence because they failed to restrain their dogs as well.