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Dog attacks




What should I do if a dog attacks me?

If you have seen a dog attack a person or animal, or been attacked by a dog yourself, irrespective of whether the attack happened on public or on private property, you should report it to your local council.

If the attack occurred outside local council hours, you may call your local police station. Police officers are also authorised officers under the Companion Animals Act 1998. Authorised officers have a wide range of powers to deal with owners of attacking dogs, including seizing dogs that have attacked.

If you have been the subject of a serious dog attack, you may wish to seek your own legal advice to determine any remedies that may be available to you. You can access free legal advice by telephoning LawAccess NSW, a free Government telephone service providing legal information, advice and referrals, on 1300 888 529 (or TTY 1300 889 529) Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.


Am I legally liable if my dog attacks another animal or person?

As a dog owner, you are liable if your dog attacks a person or another animal. While the Companion Animals Act 1998 gives certain protection to an owner whose dog attacks as a result of a person or an animal trespassing onto the property on which the dog is kept, other forms of liability may still apply.

If your dog has attacked a person or another animal, you may wish to seek your own legal advice. You can access free legal advice by telephoning LawAccess NSW, a free Government telephone service, providing legal information, advice and referrals, on 1300 888 529 (or TTY 1300 889 529) Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.


Can someone else remove my dog from my property?

The Companion Animals Act 1998 in certain circumstances allows an authorised council officer or police officer to enter part of a property that is not used solely for residential purposes and seize a dog. These circumstances include where:

  • the owner consents; or
  • the dog has attacked or bitten an animal or person and the owner is not there; or
  • the dog has attacked or bitten an animal or person and the owner cannot bring the dog under effective control.

An authorised council officer or police officer may enter the part of a property used solely for residential purposes where the owner consents or by virtue of a search warrant.

An authorised officer may also seize a dog at any time within 72 hours of an attack if the owner fails to keep the dog adequately secured or the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the dog will not be kept under effective control.

If a dog has been seized, the authorised officer must give the owner a notice setting out the reason for the seizure and the place the dog has been taken to.

The intention of this part of the Companion Animals Act 1998 is to give an authorised officer the power to bring under control a dog that has attacked and is at risk of continuing to cause an immediate threat to public safety.

Restricted dogs, proposed restricted dogs and declared dangerous dogs can also be seized and removed from a property in certain circumstances. Contact your local council for further information.


What penalties relate to dogs that are encouraged to, or have, attacked?

Offence under Companion Animals Act 1998

Imprisonment provision

Maximum penalty amount

Encouraging dog to attack, bite, harass or chase any person or animal (other than vermin), whether or not actual injury is caused

No

200 penalty units/$22,000

Encouraging restricted dog or declared dangerous or menacing dog to attack, bite, harass or chase any person or animal (other than vermin), whether or not actual injury is caused

5 years (and permanent disqualification from owning a dog or being in charge of a dog in a public place in NSW)

700 penalty units/$77,000

Dog rushes at, attacks, bites, harasses or chases any person or animal (other than vermin), whether or not any injury is caused to the person or animal

No

100 penalty units/$11,000

Dog rushes at, attacks, bites, harasses or chases any person or animal (other than vermin), whether or not any injury is caused to the person or animal as a result of a reckless act or omission by the dog’s owner or another person in charge of the dog at the time of the attack

2 years and/or

200 penalty units/$22,000

Restricted dog or declared dangerous or menacing dog rushes at, attacks, bites, harasses or chases any person or animal (other than vermin), whether or not any injury is caused to the person or animal

No

400 penalty units/$44,000

Restricted dog or declared dangerous or menacing dog rushes at, attacks, bites, harasses or chases any person or animal (other than vermin), whether or not any injury is caused to the person or animal as a result of a reckless act or omission by the dog’s owner or another person in charge of the dog at the time of the attack

4 years and/or

500 penalty units/$55,000

Restricted dog or declared dangerous or menacing dog attacks or bites any person (whether or not any injury is caused to the person), as a result of the owner's failure to comply with control requirements

5 years (and permanent disqualification from owning a dog or being in charge of a dog in a public place in NSW)

700 penalty units/$77,000


Where can I get data on dog attacks?

Clause 33A of the Companions Animal Regulation 2008 requires all councils to report dog attacks in their area within 72 hours of receiving the information.

To access data on dog attacks in NSW, click Dog Attack Data under Statistics.

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