It is an offence for a dog to attack, harass or chase people or pets. Dogs are not usually deliberately aggressive. This is often a response to fear, perceived threats or behaviours caused by their environment or people around them.
In the event of a dog attack, your first priority is to seek medical or veterinary treatment. If your dog is the initiator, restrain it if it’s safe to do so. You have a duty of care to others, so check the welfare of others involved and support them where possible. Councils must be notified and may investigate. Please cooperate and don't be fearful of the process.
If you or your dog has been attacked, observe and collect as many details as possible and report it to the council as soon as possible. Time is critical factor, especially if the offending dog is wandering on its own, posing a public safety risk. You'll need to provide the following details to the local council:
If council is unavailable, consider calling the Police for emergency assistance.
What happens next?
Council investigators may take statements and photographs of any evidence, including injuries, from any involved parties or witnesses. Depending on the severity of the attack, councils can either issue a warning; impose a fine of $315 or if more serious, take court action. Council can also impose a 'control order' on the dog and its owner. There are four types of control orders. Three have specific instructions for the owner to manage the dog's behaviour (nuisance, dangerous or menace) and the fourth and final order is for the dog's destruction.
Claims for damages (this can also include veterinary care) are addressed as civil matters. Councils are not able to facilitate any compensation to victims.
If a council animal management officer has assessed a dog to be potentially dangerous, it will have to wear a collar to identify it. This collar warns others to give the dog space. These collars have yellow and red diagonal stripes. Any dog of any breed or size can be dangerous.