The DOMESTIC ANIMALS ACT 1994 provides various laws and penalties pertaining to dogs and other animals but the ones we thought you might be interested in include:
– Dogs over 3 months old must be registered with the relevant Council and failure to do so can lead to a fine of up to 20 penalty units;
– Council can refuse to register a dog that is not desexed;
– For dogs found at large, an owner can be fined up to 10 penalty units.
– For dogs that are not defined as a “dangerous dog” or “restricted breed dog” and the dog attacks or bites a person or animal, the person in apparent control of the dog, whether or not the owner, can be liable for a penalty of up to 40 penalty units;
– If a dog rushes or chases any person, the person in apparent control of the dog at the time, whether or not the owner, can be liable for a penalty of up to 4 penalty units;
– Where the dog is defined as a “dangerous dog” or a “restricted breed dog” and it attacks or bites a person or animal, the person in apparent control of the dog at the time of attack or biting, whether or not the owner of the dog, can be liable to a term of imprisonment or a fine of up to 120 penalty units;
– There are some defences that apply.
One penalty unit in Victoria as at 1 July 2017 is $158.57.
The Courts are given quite broad powers in dealing with offences under this legislation, including but not limited to:
– The power to seize, take custody of, dispose of or destroy the dog;
– The power to prohibit ownership;
– The power to order that a person pay compensation for any damage caused by the conduct of the dog.
The CRIMES ACT 1958 also provides penalties for owners who fail to control a dangerous, menacing or restricted breed dog that kills a person or places a person in danger of death. Such penalties can be up to 10 years imprisonment.
Local Councils are required to have in place a Domestic Animal Management Plan. The Ballarat Council Draft Domestic Animal Management Plan 2017 provides that:
– in addition to registration. newly registered animals must also be micro-chipped before registration can be accepted.
Furthermore, where the dog is outside the owner’s premises, Ballarat City Council requires that:
– Council identification tags be worn by the dog;
– The owner must carry a litter device; and
– The person in apparent control of the dog must have the dog on a lead unless the dog is in a Designated Off Leash area.
According to Ballarat City Council’s Draft Domestic Animal Management Plan 2017, there were 116 dog attacks investigated in 2016.
Dog attacks can have devastating consequences both from a physical and psychological perspective and can at times cause death.
In addition to the power of the Courts to award compensation under the DOMESTIC ANIMALS ACT 1994 , a dog attack victim may have the right to bring a claim for damages which may include a claim for medical expenses, loss of income and pain and suffering.
It does not matter whether or not the owner has been prosecuted in relation to the attack.
A dog owner’s home and contents insurance, sometimes provides cover for circumstances such as this, even if the incident occurs off the owner’s premises.
As a dog owner it is your responsibility to ensure that you have control of your dog, whether that be at home, or when out walking.