Duties of dog owners

The Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 43 creates a number of responsibilities that dog owners have for their dogs.

A person liable for the control of a dog commits an offence if that dog:

  • wanders in a public place, or on private property without the occupier's consent, without anyone exercising effective control over the dog. A dog is under effective control if on a leash (no more than two metres long); is tied up by means of a chain, cord or leash no more than two metres in length; secured in a cage, vehicle or other structure; or is close to and within sight of someone at all times and is responsive to his or her commands. It is a defence to this charge if an owner can prove that he or she had taken all reasonable steps to prevent the dog from wandering at large.

Penalties: First offence — if dog is a dangerous dog or of prescribed breed $2 500; in any other case $250.

Subsequent offences — if dog is a dangerous dog or of prescribed breed $5 000; in any other case $750.

Where a person is found guilty of a subsequent offence the court may order that the dog be disposed of within a specified period.

  • is in any shop (not a pet shop or grooming parlour); any premises (not a veterinary surgery); or any school or educational institution without the permission of the principal.

Penalties: If dog is a dangerous dog or of prescribed breed $2 500; in any other case $250.

  • rushes at or chases any vehicle (penalty $750).
  • defecates in a public place, unless the person controlling the dog immediately removes the faeces and disposes of them in a lawful and suitable manner(penalty $125).
  • is urged to attack, harass or chase a person, animal or bird owned by or in charge of someone else, even if no injury is caused (penalty $10000 or imprisonment up to 2 years). Where the dog concerned is a dangerous dog or a dog of prescribed breed the owner will be guilty of an aggravated offence and penalty will be up to double the monetary penalty or an imprisonment term not exceeding double the term that would otherwise apply. Dogs being used in the reasonable defence of any person or property, or working dogs, are exempt from this provision.
  • attacks, harasses, or chases any person, animal or bird owned by or in charge of someone else, even if no injury is caused (penalty $2500). Where the dog concerned is a dangerous dog or a dog of a prescribed breed the owner will be guilty of an aggravated offence and penalty will be up to double the monetary penalty or an imprisonment term not exceeding double the term that would otherwise apply. Dogs being used in the reasonable defence of any person or property, or working dogs, are exempt from this provision.
  • on any premises causes injury to the person or property of any person lawfully entering those premises (penalty $2500).
  • is not physically restrained when being transported on the back of a utility, truck or similar vehicle (penalty $750). The dog will be considered to be physically restrained if being transported in a cage or other enclosure or tethered securely to the vehicle so that the dog cannot fall off or escape. Accredited guide dogs and working dogs are exempt from this provision.
  • either alone, or with other dogs, unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of any person.

When a court convicts a person, it can also make a variety of orders to stop a nuisance. Depending on the circumstances, the court may also order that a dog be destroyed or controlled in a certain way, that the owner may not acquire another dog for a certain period, or that the victim is paid compensation for injury or damage.

It is a defence to any charge under the Act if the offence was not committed intentionally and did not result from any failure on the part of the person to take reasonable care to avoid committing the offence [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 86]. A blind or partially blind person with a guide dog, or a person training guide dogs, is entitled to take the dog onto any place or premises. It is an offence for an occupier or person in charge of a public place or public passenger vehicle to refuse access to a person on the ground that they are accompanied by a guide dog [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 81].

Duties of dog owners  :  Last Revised: Fri Apr 30th 2010
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