Owners of restricted and dangerous dogs have many responsibilities, as set out in the Companion Animals Act 1998. They must notify the council in the area where the dog is usually kept within 24 hours if:
- The dog has attacked or injured a person or animal
- The animal cannot be found
- The animal has died
- The owner details change
- The dog is being kept at a different address in the area of the council
- The dog is being kept outside the council area.
Penalties for non-compliance include the seizure and destruction of a dog in certain circumstances.
Officers authorised under the Act have the power to seize a restricted or dangerous dog if the officer is satisfied that any of the control requirements have not been complied with in relation to the dog. Council law enforcement officers and police apply these requirements.
It is an offence in NSW to sell, acquire or breed dogs on the restricted dog list. Restricted dogs in NSW are as follows:
- American pitbull terrier or pitbull terrier;
- Japanese tosa;
- Dogo Argentino (Argentinean fighting dog);
- Fila Brasiliero (Brazilian fighting dog);
- Any other dog of a breed, kind or description whose importation into the Australia is prohibited by or under the Customs Act 1901 of the Commonwealth;
- Any dog declared by a council under Division 6 of the Act to be a restricted dog#
- Any other dog of a breed, kind or description prescribed the regulations for the purpose of this section.
#Council declared restricted dog refers to any dog where the council is of the opinion that a dog is of a breed or kind of dog on the restricted dog list or a cross-breed of any such breed or kind of dog.
Council-declared restricted dogs
If a council issues a dog owner with a Notice of Intention to Declare a Dog to be a Restricted Dog, the owner has 28 days in which to complete the process where they may elect to have the dog's breed and temperament assessed.
If you receive such a notice you should contact your local council for further information. Please note: this process does not apply to Declared Dangerous Dogs.
'Dangerous dogs' in NSW are dogs that are the subject of a declaration made by a council or a court under the Act. Council must have given notice to the owner of a dog of the council's intention to declare the dog to be dangerous.
A dog is 'dangerous' if it has without provocation attacked or killed a person or animal, or repeatedly threatened to attack or repeatedly chased a person or animal.
A dog may also be declared dangerous if it has displayed unreasonable aggression towards a person or animal.
The owner of a restricted or declared dangerous dog must comply with the control requirements listed under sections 51 and 56 of the Companion Animals Act and the relevant parts of the Regulation. These include:
- All restricted and dangerous dogs must by law be desexed.
- It is an offence to sell or give away a dangerous or restricted dog or sell or give away a dog subject to a notice of intention to declare dangerous or restricted.
- The dog must not at any time be in the sole charge of a person under 18 years of age.
- While the dog is on the property on which the dog is ordinarily kept, the dog must be kept in an enclosure that complies with the requirements prescribed by the regulations
- Warning signs: One or more signs with the words 'Warning Dangerous Dog' must be clearly displayed on the property and be clearly visible from the boundaries of the property.
- Whenever the dog is outside its prescribed enclosure, the dog:
- Must be under the effective control of some competent person by means of an adequate chain, cord or leash that is attached to the dog and held by (or secured to) the person.
- Must be muzzled in a manner that is sufficient to prevent it from biting any animal or person.
- Collar: Dangerous and restricted dogs must at all times wear a distinctive red and yellow striped collar of the prescribed design. Council can advise you of suppliers.
Council can advise you of these requirements in full.
Failure to comply
An owner can be issued with a fixed penalty notice of $1,320 for failure to comply with any of the above control requirements. A maximum penalty of $55,000 or two years imprisonment or both can be applied if a dangerous or restricted dog attacks or bites another person or if an incident is the result of the owner's failure to comply with any one of the control requirements of sections 51 or 56 of the Act.
Dependent on the circumstances, these offences may also result in the seizure and destruction of a dog.
Restricted dog owners need to know that their dog(s) may be seized and destroyed in the following circumstances:
- If an authorised officer is satisfied that any of the control requirements outlined in section 56 of the Act have not been complied with.
- If the dog becomes a restricted dog because of a declaration by an authorised officer, seizure and destruction may occur regardless of whether the requirements of section 56 of the Act have been, or are capable of being complied with in relation to the dog.
Section 28 of the Companion Animals Regulation 1999 requires the enclosure:
- To be fully enclosed, constructed and maintained so that the dog cannot escape under, over or through the enclosure.
- To be constructed so that a person cannot have access to it without the assistance of an occupier of the property who is above the age of 16 years.
- To be designed to prevent children from having access to the enclosure.
- Not be located on the property in such a way that people are required to pass through the enclosure to gain access to other parts of the property.
- To have a minimum height and width of 1.8 metres.
- To have an area of not less than 10 square metres for each dangerous or restricted dog kept on the property.
- To have walls that are fixed to the floor and constructed to be no more than 50 mm from the floor.
- To have walls, a fixed covering and a gate that are constructed of brick, timber, iron or similar solid materials, or chain mesh manufactured from at least 3.15 mm wire or weldmesh manufactured from at least 4 mm wire with a maximum mesh spacing of 50 mm, or a combination.
- Have a floor that is constructed of sealed concrete and graded to fall to a drain for the removal of effluent.
- To provide a weatherproof sleeping area.
Owners of restricted dogs and those dogs declared dangerous are to comply with the prescribed enclosure requirements within 3 months from date of the declaration and must obtain a compliance certificate for the enclosure from council.
Failure to comply with the Companion Animals Act 1998 can result in the following fines and penalties being imposed on the owner of the dog.
|Offence under Companion Animals Act 1998||Imprisonment provision (max penalty)||Maximum penalty amount|
|Restricted or dangerous dog attacks/harasses/chases person or animal||No||$33,000|
|Restricted or dangerous dog attacks or bites a person due to failure to comply with control requirements||2 years (and possible immediate destruction of dog)||$55,000|
|Restricted or dangerous dog attacks or bites a person and has previously attacked||2 years (and possible immediate destruction of dog)||$22,000|
|Fail to comply with control requirements for restricted or dangerous dog||No||$16,500|
|Sell or advertise restricted dog||No||$16,500|
|Accept ownership of restricted dog||No||$16,500|
|Breed or advertise available to breed restricted dog||No||$16,500|
|Dangerous or restricted dog encouraged to attack||6 months||$11,000|
The legislation can be viewed online at www.legislation.nsw.gov.au