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Legal responsibilities of dog owners

Dog ownership comes with many responsibilities. You are responsible for the animal’s health and wellbeing and you also have responsibilities which can impact on your community.

Your responsibilities

If you are a South Australian dog owner, here is a summary of your responsibilities:

  • Have your dog desexed and microchipped (unless exempt);
  • Register your dog on Dogs and Cats Online;
  • Keep your dog securely confined to the property it is kept;
  • Keep your dog on a leash in public places. Dogs in parks may be off leash provided they are under effective control by command;
  • Clean up after your dog;
  • Do not allow your dog to be in a school, kindergarten or child care centre without permission;
  • Make sure your dog does not chase, harrass or attack a person, animal or bird or chase a motor vehicle or bicycle;
  • Make sure your dog is not a nuisance (e.g.barks excessively);
  • Restrain your dog if you are transporting it in the open tray of a ute.

Your local council can set a ‘by-law’ which are laws that apply to your council area only. For more information, contact your local council.

Enforcing the law

Councils appoint authorised persons under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 who have the power to:

  • Issue expiation notices;
  • Request someone produce a dog, or certificate or records issued under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995, for inspection;
  • Request any person suspected of an offence (or about to commit one) give their full name and address and produce identification;
  • Seize and detain dogs under certain circumstances;
  • Collect evidence, including photographs or video for an investigation.

Authorised persons may enter and inspect any place or vehicle, on suspicion of an offence. A warrant may be obtained if they are denied access. It is an offence to hinder, obstruct, abuse or refuse to comply with a reasonable request of an authorised person. Authorised persons can cross council boundaries to carry out duties under certain circumstances. If a complaint is proven valid, the council may levy an expiation fee. If the offence is serious, the person responsible for the dog might be summoned to appear in court.

More information