LawAnswers.com.au - Australia's #1 Legal Community

LawAnswers.com.au is a community of 10,000+ Australians, just like you, helping each other.
Ask a question, respond to a question and better understand the law today!
Join us, it only takes a minute:

NSW Neighbour Releasing Our Pets from Yard - Criminal Law Offence?

Discussion in 'Criminal Law Forum' started by Conall, 11 March 2015.

  1. Conall

    Conall Member

    Joined:
    11 March 2015
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi. I am the owner of 2 dogs and I have a crazy neighbour who has a vendetta against our dogs simply because they bark at her when she walks past our yard. She has taken things a step further and opens the gate allowing the dogs to run free. She then calls the council and complains that the dogs are a menace and chasing her cats. The yard is perfectly secure and the dogs have never escaped before she started doing this. I believe we have taken all reasonable care to ensure the dogs do not get out. My main concern is, even though they are good dogs, if something happens and they attack someone's pets or bite someone? It appears to me that under current legislation we would still be liable as the owners.

    It is completely impossible to prevent a person from being able to release the dogs. If we lock the gates they can cut the locks etc. It would also be hard to prove that she was the one that "let them out" as opposed to her argument of them "escaping on their own". Any advice and direction to relevant legislation would be greatly appreciated
     
  2. Tracy B

    Tracy B Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    24 December 2014
    Messages:
    435
    Likes Received:
    70
    Hi Conall,

    Just a side note, but have you complaint about this person trespassing on your property and causing a nuisance (e.g. cutting locks)? If not, you can try complaining about this to your council. If you have evidence they indeed cut your locks and are messing with your gate, you have a civil action against them for trespass to land and property.

    This would stop your neighbour from messing with your gate and therefore, causing your dogs to be let out.
     
  3. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    16 April 2014
    Messages:
    2,300
    Likes Received:
    335
    Hi there, from a common law perspective I think you would have an action in either trespass or nuisance. However in terms of legislation, NSW has the Companion Animals Act 1999 which provides that dog owners must take all reasonable steps to prevent their dog from escaping from their property. (section 12A) Failing to do this would likely constitute an offence under the act. However, if your dogs were released by your neighbour (good if you could get some evidence such as surveillance footage) and they did something to harm someone, I don't think you would be held responsible for your dogs getting out if you have taken all reasonable precautions. This argument may also mitigate the damages you may have to pay (i.e. medical bills etc) if a person or another animal is harmed by your dogs - but I'm not 100% sure on that.

    I would put a lock on your gate - at least if someone cuts the lock to get your dogs out you can prove that someone has let them out and it wasn't your fault.

    You could also call the council and ask for their advice.
     
  4. Ivy

    Ivy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    10 February 2015
    Messages:
    498
    Likes Received:
    85
    In addition to what Tracey and Sophea have said, you potentially have an action in trespass for interfering with the dogs themselves (aside from being on your property). So additionally to the suggestions above, I suggest that you set up a motion sensor camera near your gate.
     
  5. Conall

    Conall Member

    Joined:
    11 March 2015
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for all the great replies. Locking gates with padlocks can be an inconvenience because we use them frequently. We will do it if we have to though. CCTV is also an idea i have considered. It's just a shame that the companion dogs act doesn't take these type of things into consideration. It's quite unfair that we have to spend hundreds of dollars on security cameras and locks to save ourselves liability for something that wouldn't even be our fault. Especially when the troublesome neighbour gets to go on with her life with no additional cost.

    Anyway thanks everyone and we will look into upping our security.
     
  6. Tracy B

    Tracy B Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    24 December 2014
    Messages:
    435
    Likes Received:
    70
    Hi Conall,

    I understand it is not your responsibility to take further action. However, have you thought about training your dogs to stay in the yard even if the gate is left open? Or, placing a second fence in your yard so although your dogs have less room to roam, they won't escape even if the main gate is left open? Or, instead of CCTV in the yard, have a camera/laptop recording through your front window (you only need to capture the gate) or think of alternative options to evidence your neighbour meddling with your gate/yard?

    These may be cheaper options that installing CCTV.
     
  7. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    27 May 2014
    Messages:
    2,170
    Likes Received:
    257
    Do you mean walking past the front of your property or walking close to a side or back fence?

    Keep in mind that if the dogs continually bark at your neighbour while she is minding her own business in her yard she may have an action against you. Maybe mediation can solve the problem. See if the council has some kind of mediation process you can follow.

    BTW there are 'wildlife' cameras you can buy that operate on batteries. Check out the SWANN OutbackCam.
     
  8. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    27 May 2014
    Messages:
    2,170
    Likes Received:
    257
    re: Swann camera. I bought one for a similar reason (people checking out my car at night).

    Goes through batteries very quickly and video set off bit too easily because of wind moving foliage but does a good job of capturing video.
     

Share This Page

Loading...