What powers do local councils have in relation to dogs and cats?
Local councils have the power to make by-laws in relation to the management of dogs and cats within their areas [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 90]. These by-laws may —
- limit the number of dogs and cats kept on premises;
- fix periods during which dogs and cats must be effectively confined to premises occupied by a person who is responsible for or entitled to the dog or cat;
- require dogs or cats to be identified in a specified manner, or in specified circumstances;
- make provision for a registration scheme for cats (including payment of a fee);and
- set aside specified areas where dogs are prohibited.
The Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) also allows for local councils to issue the following orders in relation to dogs [s 50]:
- Destruction Order
- Control (Dangerous Dog) Order
- Control (Menacing Dog) Order
- Control (Nuisance Dog) Order
- Control (Barking Dog) Order
What powers do authorised council officers have?
The Dog and Cat Management Board and local councils may appoint suitable persons to be authorised to exercise powers under the Dog And Cat Management Act 1995 (SA). Authorised persons are able to [s 25D]:
- enter and inspect any place or vehicle
- require a person to produce a dog or cat for inspection
- require a person who owns or is responsible for a dog or cat to produce evidence that the dog is microchipped or desexed or both
- require a person to produce documents or records for inspection or copying
- carry out tests, take measurements, photographs, films or video recordings
- seize and retain anything that is reasonably suspected to constitute evidence of a contravention of the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA)
- require a person who the officer reasonably suspects has committed, is committing or is about to commit an offence under the Act, to give their name and address and produce evidence of identification
- require a person reasonably suspected to have knowledge of relevant matters to answer questions
- give expiation notices to persons alleged to have committed offences under the Act
- give any directions reasonably required in connection with the exercise of powers
The power to enter and inspect any place or vehicle can only be exercised [s25D(2)]:
A person may request to see and inspect an authorised council officer’s identity card [s 25B(3)].
What if I refuse to cooperate?
Entry onto property or of vehicles will initially be with the consent of the owner/occupier. However, the authorised council officer can apply for a warrant if refused entry and if issued, they may then use reasonable force to gain entry [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 25D]. It is an offence under the Act to hinder an authorised person in the course of his/her duties [s 31]. It is also an offence to use abusive or threatening language or to refuse to comply with a requirement of an authorised person [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 31]. The maximum penalty for such offences is $5 000. An assault on an authorised person carries a maximum penalty of $10 000 or up to 2 years imprisonment.
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