A dog may be considered as 'dangerous' if it has, without provocation, attacked or killed a person or animal or repeatedly threatened to attack or chase a person or animal (other than vermin).
A dog may be considered as ‘menacing’ if it has, without provocation, attacked a person or animal or repeatedly threatened to attack or chase a person or animal (other than vermin) without causing serious injury or death.
Local Council's and Courts have the authority to declare a dog dangerous or menacing. A declaration has effect throughout the state of NSW. It is not limited to the Council in which it was declared.
Once a dog has been declared dangerous or menacing, owners must keep their dog in compliance with requirements outlined in the Companion Animals Act 1998 and Companion Animals Amendment Act 2013. Severe penalties may be imposed and/or the dog may be seized if the requirements are not met. A table of dog control categories under the Companion Animals Act is available here.
Declaring a dog to be dangerous or menacing
Council must give notice to the owner of a dog of its intention to declare the dog to be dangerous or menacing. Once the notice has been given, the owner must ensure that the dog is confined (tethered or restrained in such a way to prevent the dog attacking or chasing a person) lawfully at the property where the dog is ordinarily kept.
If the dog is away from its property, it must:
- be under the effective control of some competent person by means of an adequate chain, cord or leash, and
- have a muzzle securely fixed on its mouth in such a manner as will prevent it from biting any person or animal.
Note that a dog is not considered to be under the effective control of a person if the person has more than 2 dogs (one of which is the dog the subject of a proposed declaration) under their control at the one time.
The dog owner has a right to object to the proposed declaration. An objection must be made in writing to the Council within 7 days after the date the notice is given. If the owner does not object within that time, the Council may proceed to make the declaration. If the owner does object within the 7 days, the Council must first consider the objection before proceeding to make the declaration.
Notification of a decision to declare a dog dangerous or menacing
Council must give notice to the dog owner if it declares the dog dangerous or menacing or decides not to declare the dog dangerous or menacing. A dangerous or menacing dog declaration has effect from the date specified in the notice or the date on which the notice is given.
Once a declaration is made, the owner of the animal must comply with requirements for dangerous or menacing dogs prescribed in the Companion Animals Act and Regulation.
Revocation of a dangerous or menacing dog declaration
An owner has the right to appeal against a dangerous or menacing dog declaration. Application can be made to Council for the declaration to be revoked.
The Council may revoke the declaration if satisfied that it is appropriate to do so. If Council refuses to revoke a declaration, the owner can make an appeal to a local Court against the declaration or against a refusal by the Council to revoke its declaration.
An appeal can only be made within 28 days after the date Council has given notice refusing to revoke the declaration.
Please note that an appeal does not affect the dogs status as dangerous or menacing and does not affect the owner's obligations to comply with the requirements for dangerous or menacing dogs under the legislation.
Responsibilities of owners of declared dangerous or menacing dogs
An owner of a declared dangerous or menacing dog must ensure that:
The dog is required to be desexed (if not already) within 28 days after it has been declared dangerous or menacing. If the owner appeals against the declaration this requirement is stayed until the appeal is either withdrawn or determined.
The dog must not at any time be in the sole charge of a person under the age of 18 years.
3. Enclosure requirements
While the dog is on property on which it is ordinarily kept, the dog must be kept in an enclosure that complies with the requirements prescribed by the Regulations.
One or more signs must be displayed on that property showing the words 'Warning Dangerous Dog', in letters clearly visible from the boundaries of the property of which the dog is ordinarily kept, which comply with the Regulations.
5. Distinctive collar
The dog must at all time wear a durable, secure, red and yellow striped collar, which complies with the Regulations.
6. Lead and muzzle
Whenever the dog is outside its 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 that is being held by (or secured to) the person, and
- must be muzzled in a manner that is sufficient to prevent it from biting any person or animal.
Note that a dog is not considered to be under the effective control of a person if the person has more than 2 dogs (one of which is the restricted dog) under their control at one time.
All dogs must be identified by microchip and registered on the Companion Animals Register.
8. Notification in change of events
The owner must notify the Council of the area in which the dog is ordinarily kept, of any of the following matters:
- that the dog has attacked or injured a person or animal (other than vermin) - notice to be given within 24 hours after the attack or injury
- that the dog cannot be found - notice to be given within 24 hours after the dog's absence is first noticed
- that the dog has died - notice to be given as soon as practicable and within 28 days after the death
- that the ownership of the dog has changed - notice to be given within 24 hours after the change
- that the dog is no longer being ordinarily kept in the area of the Council - notice to be given as soon as practicable after the change of location
- that the dog is being ordinarily kept at a different location in the area of the Council - notice to be given as soon as practicable after the change of location