It is an offence under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 for a dog to attack or harass a person or animal.
Harassment is defined as a dog troubling or annoying a person without being the primary cause of physical injury i.e. the dog may chase a person or animal but not bite them. Attack is defined as a dog acting with force or harmfully resulting in physical injury such as bruising, puncture wounds or laceration.
If you or your dog is attacked by another dog, once you are safe, try to get as many details as you can about the dog. Note the colour, size, breed, markings and collar colour of the dog and take a photo if safe. If possible, note the registration disc number and council registered at, the owner’s details and any witnesses. Council will also require the date, time and location of the harassment or attack. It is important to report the attack to the local council as soon as possible.
In the case of a serious attack where you or your dog has been injured you should also call the police who are authorised under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 and can provide immediate assistance in an emergency. It is important that medical or veterinary assistance is sought as soon as possible*.
Councils can investigate dog harassments and attacks and impose penalties and controls on the dog owner as appropriate. The more information you can provide the Council, the more likely it is that they will be able to identify the owner and the dog that harassed or attacked you. Council may request copies of any medical assistance required as a result of the attack. In some instances, Council Officers may ask to take photographic evidence.
Claims for damages are addressed as a civil matter. Councils are unable to facilitate any compensation to the victims.
What should I do if my dog harasses or attacks a person or an owned animal?
Under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995, as the owner of, or person responsible for the dog you are liable if your dog harasses, attacks or chases a person or an animal or bird owned or in the charge of another person. There are exceptions to the offence.
If you are present at the incident, restrain your dog if safe to do so. You have a duty of care of others, so check their welfare and support them to access the services they require*.
Councils have set procedures for the investigation of dog harassment and attack reports. It is important you cooperate with the council’s investigation.
You may wish to consider informing the source of the dog of the incident as this information may result in different selection of breeding dogs, temperament testing alterations, etc.
*It is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 1985 for an owner or a person who caused harm to fail to take reasonable steps to mitigate harm suffered by the animal.
What orders can councils place on my dog if it chases, harasses or attacks?
Council may place a control order (nuisance, menacing or dangerous) on the dog to reduce the risk of repeat chase, harassment or attack, making it a safer dog for the community with your active participation.
Control order requirements may include, but not limited to, desexing, microchipping, securely enclosed on property, wearing a specific collar, wearing a muzzle in public, remaining under physical restraint in public, warning signs on the property and completion of specified training.
In the incident of a serious attack the council may consider placing a destruction order on the dog.
Council may also issue expiations applicable under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995.
If the dog is already subject to a control order, council may consider escalating the control order or refer to the Magistrates Court.