Dangerous dogs

Overview

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 Councils and Courts have the authority to declare a dog as 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.

Declaring a dog to be dangerous or menacing 

We 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.

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.

Responsibilities of owners of declared dangerous or menacing dogs 

An owner of a declared dangerous or menacing dog must ensure that:

  1. Desexing: the dog is desexed (if not already) within 28 days after it has been declared dangerous or menacing

  2. Supervision: 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

  4. Signage: 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 times wear a durable, secure, red and yellow striped collar, which complies with the regulations.

  6. Lead and muzzle: must be under the effective control of some competent person over 18 years of age, 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. 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.

  7. Registration: all dogs must be identified by microchip and registered on the NSW Companion Animals Register.

  8. Notification in change of events: the owner must notify us of any of the following matters: 
    - 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, the dog cannot be found
    - notice to be given within 24 hours after the dog's absence is first noticed, 
    the dog has died
    - notice to be given as soon as practicable and withing 28 days after the death, 
    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 and 
    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.

Restricted Dogs

Dog breeds classed as restricted: 
  • American pit bull terrier or pit bull terrier

  • Japanese tosa

  • Fogo Argentino

  • Fila Brasiliero

  • Any dog containing any part restricted breed, declared by a Council under Division 6 of the Companion Animals Act

  • Any other dog of a breed, kind or description prescribed by the Companion Animals Regulation.

Note that the importation into Australia of restricted dogs is prohibited. It is illegal to sell, give away, acquire or breed with a restricted dog.

Requirements for owners of Restricted Dogs

If you own a restricted dog, you must ensure that each of the following requirements are complied with. Severe penalties may be imposed and/or the dog may be seized if the requirements are not met:

  1. Distinctive collar: the dog must at all times wear a durable, secure, red and yellow striped collar, which complies with the Companion Animal Regulations.

  2. Lead and muzzled: whenever the dog is outside of its enclosure, which is able to restrain the dog and prevent a child from having access to it, 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 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.

  3. Registration: all dogs must be identified by microchip and registered on the Companion Animals Register.

  4. Supervision: the dog must not at any time be in the sole charge of a person under the age of 18 years.

  5. Signage: one or more signs must be displayed on the property showing the words "Warning Dangerous Dog," in letters clearly visible from the boundaries of the property and which comply with requirements set out in the Regulations.

  6. Desexing: restricted dogs must be desexed 

  7. Enclosure requirements: while the dog is at home, the dog will be required to be kept in an enclosure that complies with the requirements prescribed by the Regulation.

  8. Notification of any change in details: the owner must notify Council, 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 after the death,

  • 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.

We may declare a dog as restricted

If we believe that a dog is of a breed, kind of breed or is a cross-breed of a restricted dog, we may give notice to the owner of the dog of its intentions to declare the dog to be restricted.

Contesting a notice declaring a dog to be a restricted breed

If we notify a dog owner of its intention to declare their dog as a restricted breed dog, the owner can contest this. To contest, the dog owner - at their own expense - must arrange for an approved 'Breed Assessor' to provide a certificate stating the breed of the dog.

If the 'Breed Assessor' states the dog is of a restricted breed, we will declare it to be restricted. If the certificate shows the dog to be a cross of a restricted breed, the owner can - at their own expense - arrange for an approved 'Temperament Assessor'. If the Temperament Assessor states in writing that the dog is not a danger to the public and is not likely, without provocation, to attack or bite a person or animal, we will not declare the dog restricted.

Where this is not done or cannot be done, we may declare the dog to be restricted and the owner must comply with the Companion Animals Regulation regarding restricted breed dogs. 

Enclosures for dangerous, menacing and restricted dogs

The Companion Animals Amendment Act 2005 requires that dogs classed as restricted and dogs, which have been declared dangerous, must be kept in an enclosure that complies with requirements outlined in the Companion Animals Regulation. Owners must comply with these requirements. Severe penalties and/or the dog may be seized if the requirements prescribed by the regulations are not met. 

Requirements of enclosures for dangerous and restricted dogs

An enclosure must:
  • be fully enclosed, constructed and maintained in such a way so that the dog is not able to dig or otherwise escape under, over or through the enclosure

  • be constructed in such a way so that a person cannot have access to it without the assistance of an occupier of the property who is above the age of 18 years

  • be designed to prevent children from having access to the enclosure

  • not be located on the property in such a way so that people are required to pass through the enclosure to gain access to other parts of the property

  • have a minimum height of 1.8 metres and a minimum width of 1.8 metres

  • have an area of not less than 10 square metres for each dangerous or restricted dog kept on the property

  • have a floor that is constructed of sealed concrete and graded to fall to a drain for the removal of effluent

  • provide a weatherproof sleeping area

  • have walls, a fixed covering and a gate that are constructed of:

    • brick, timber, iron or similar solid materials,

    • mesh that is chain mesh manufactured from at least 3.15mm wire to form a maximum mesh spacing or 50mm or weldmesh manufactured from at least 4mm wire with a maximum mesh spacing of 50mm

    • a combination of the materials referred to in subparagraphs 1 and 2. 

Gate to the enclosure must:

  • contain a self-closing and self-latching mechanism that enables the enclosure to be securely locked when the dog is in the enclosure

  • be kept locked when the dog is in the enclosure

  • display the warning sign referred to below.

Mesh used in the construction of an enclosure must be:

  • chain mesh manufactured from at least 3.15 mm wire to form a maximum mesh spacing of 50 mm, or

  • weldmesh manufactured from at least 4 mm wire with a maximum mesh spacing of 50 mm.

Warning signs for dangerous and restricted dogs

A sign to be displayed on the property on which a dangerous dog or restricted dog is ordinarily kept must comply with the following requirements:

  • the sign must be no smaller than 40cm x 40cm,

  • the sign must be made of durable materials,

  • the sign must show the words "Warning Dangerous Dog" in letters that are sufficient size so as to be clearly visible from the boundaries of the property and that are in any case, at least 50mm high and 10mm wide.

Enclosure Requirements for Menacing Dogs

Menacing dogs are not required to be kept in the prescribed enclosure as set out above. However, when a menacing dog is on the property on which it is ordinarily kept and is not under the effective control of a person aged 18 years or over it "must be enclosed in a manner that is sufficient to restrain the dog and prevent a child from having access to the dog".

'Restraining' a menacing dog includes ensuring that the dog is prevented from escaping the property on which it is ordinarily kept (in accordance with the requirements of section 12A(1) of the Act).

Distinctive collars for dangerous and restricted dogs

A collar is of the prescribed kind if:

  • it consists of red stripes alternatively spaced with yellow stripes each being a width of 25mm and set diagonal to the rim of the collar at an angle of 45 degrees

  • at least one of the 2 colours reflects light in the dark

  • it is made of durable materials

  • it has a device or other facility that enables it to be attached to a leash,

  • it has a minimum width of:

  1. 25mm for a dog weighing less than 20kg, or

  2. 40mm for a dog weighing between 20kg and 40kg, or

  3. 50mm for a dog weighing more than 40kg.

Approval for the construction of an enclosure

Council approval

The building of an enclosure, which complies with the above requirements, may require approval by us before construction. Please contact our Buildings Approval Team for more information.

Department of Housing Approval

If you live in a property owned by the Department of Housing, you will need to make enquiries with the Department as to whether the construction of this type of enclosure would be permitted.

Tenants

Residents which are renting or leasing the property in which they occupy will need to make enquiries with the owner of the property, seeking approval, before considering the construction of this type of enclosure.