5 Things you should know as a dog owner

The Covid-19 Pandemic sparked a public interest in pet ownership. If you are like me and you have welcomed a dog into your home, these are the 5 things you must know: –

  1. The management of domestic pets is a statutory service provided by local government under the Domestic Act 1994 (“the Act”). Different councils can have different rules, therefore it is important to do your own research.
  2. You must register your dog with your local government if the animal is over 3 months old. A failure to register or renew your registration will result in infringement fines.
  3. Dog attacks can happen any time with any breed. Attacks are not always from dangerous or restricted dogs.
    • Section 29 of the Act prescribes the offences and liability relating to dog attacks. Both the dog owner and the person in apparent control of the dog at the time of the attack or biting have legal obligations to ensure effective control of the dog. The level of penalty differs depending on whether your dog has been declared dangerous and the extent of injury caused.
    • It is important to note that if your dog ‘rushes’ while displaying aggressive signs or chases any person, you can also be fined.
    • In addition to fines, you may also be subject of a claim for damages under the tort of negligence. At common law, you owe a duty to exercise reasonable care in the control and management of your dog.
    • If you cannot recall your dog, think twice before letting your dog off leash, even in an off-lead dog park.
  4. Your local government can declare a dog to be dangerous or menacing. A dog might be declared dangerous if has caused serious injury to a person or animal by biting or attacking  and/or if the owner has received at least 2 infringement notices for the dog not being leashed or muzzled in a public place. A dog might be declared menacing if it ‘rushes’ at a person. Such declaration has serious consequences for how the dogs must be housed and looked after.
  5. If your dog barks excessively, it can become a nuisance for your neighbours. Under the nuisance laws, you may be fined by your local government or taken to court where you could be ordered to take action to stop your dog barking.

Whilst owning a dog can be a rewarding experience, it is a serious responsibility. Not only are you required to give your dog what it needs, you also have to manage your dog around other people and dogs.