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Insights

It may not be dangerous, but is your dog menacing?

Before this new legislation Council could declare a dog “dangerous” if they caused serious injury or death or belonged to a dangerous breed. Council now has the option of declaring a dog as “menacing” if they show unreasonable aggression or cause a non-serious injury. This allows Council to impose enclosure and training requirements when they are aware of a potentially dangerous dog rather than after an attack.

Disobedient dogs can’t pay fines or do time…but you can.

Penalties under the Act have been reviewed and increased. For example:

Before: the penalty for an unregistered dog = $880 fine.

Now: penalty for an unregistered dog = $5,500 fine ($6,600 for a menacing or dangerous dog).

Before: penalty for a dog attacking or biting a person following an owner’s failure to comply with safety requirements = $55,000 fine and/or 2 years imprisonment.

Now: penalty = $77,000 fine and/or 5 years imprisonment.

New offences have also been introduced. It is now an offence if a dog rushes at, attacks, bites, harasses or chases any person or animal as a result of a reckless act or omission by an owner. The penalty for this offence is:

  • $22,000 and/or 2 years imprisonment for an unclassified dog; and
  • $77,000 and/or 5 years imprisonment for a menacing or dangerous dog.

This means that a dog does not need to cause an injury. A dog that likes to chase or rush up to animals or people can get you in trouble too!

Nowhere to run: Council’s new powers

Council also has been given powers to seize animals immediately where previously notice was required. For example:

Before: Council had to give owners 7 days notice before seizing a dangerous dog.

Now: Council can immediately seize a dog upon declaring it dangerous.

Before: Council was required to give notice on 2 separate occasions of non-compliance with control requirements before seizing a dog.

Now: Council can immediately seize a dog following an owner’s non-compliance.

It all comes down to accountability.

The NSW Government has made it clear to dog owners that they are responsible for the actions of their animals and will be held accountable if they fail in their duties.

If you are having an issue with a dog, contact us if you wish to explore your new (and existing) legal options.