- it is necessary to seize the dog to prevent or stop the dog attacking, harassing or chasing a person or animal
- the dog is unduly dangerous
- it is necessary to detain the dog so as to carry out a destruction order.
Notice of the seizure (giving a description of the dog, the day and time it was seized, and the place it is being detained) must be exhibited on the local council or police station notice board for at least seventy two hours. If the dog's owner is identifiable, notice of its seizure must be given. The dog must be kept for seventy two hours [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 61]. The dog will be returned to any person who proves that she or he is entitled to possession after any costs involved in maintaining or returning it are paid [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 62].
A dog that is not claimed within 72 hours after notice is given may be sold or destroyed [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 63(1)]. Dogs that cannot be seized due to their savagery or repeated evasion of seizure [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 60(2)] or that are so injured or diseased that it is impractical to maintain them may be destroyed. Where a dog is injured or diseased reasonable steps should be taken to advise the owner and the dog cannot be destroyed unless a veterinary surgeon or stock inspector have given written approval or urgent action is required [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 63(3)].
The Act gives local councils the power to issue destruction orders and control orders in certain cases such as where a dog is a nuisance, dangerous, menacing or barking [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 50]. Before either order can be given the council must give seven days written notice inviting the owners to explain why an order should not be made. If an order is made the council can give written directions on how orders are to be complied with and even order that the dog be destroyed within one month [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 50]. Breaching an order is an offence unless the owner can prove that she or he was unaware the order had been made. Written reasons should be given for the order. If not, a person can ask the council for written reasons within fourteen days of an order being made. A person who disputes an order may apply to the Administrative and Disciplinary Division of the District Court [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 58]. Appeals must be lodged within fourteen days of the order being made or of the written reasons being given.
Q. Does a dog management officer have the power to enter my property?
A. A dog management officer can enter any place or vehicle only with the consent of the owner or occupier of the place or the owner of the vehicle. However, the dog management officer may apply for a warrant if refused entry and may then use reasonable force to gain entry.
Q. What sort of powers do dog management officers have?
A. Dog management officers are able to:
- enter and inspect any place or vehicle and use reasonable force to gain entry
- require a person to produce a dog for inspection
- require production of certificates, documents or records for inspection
- require a person who owns or is responsible for the control of a dangerous dog or prescribed dog to produce evidence that the dog has been desexed
- 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
These powers can only be exercised with the consent of the owner or occupier of a place, or the owner of a vehicle or on the authority of a warrant.
Dog management officers are also able to seize a dog found wandering at large and to seize a dog in circumstances where they believe on reasonable grounds that urgent action is required.
Q. What will happen if I refuse to cooperate?
A. Entry onto property or of vehicles will initially be with the consent of the owner/occupier. However, the dog management officer can apply for a warrant and if a warrant is issued may use reasonable force to gain entry. It is an offence under the Act to hinder a dog management officer in the course of his/her duties [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 31]. It is also an offence to use abusive or threatening language or to refuse to comply with a requirement of a dog management officer [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 31]. The maximum penalty for such offences is $5 000. An assault on a dog management officer carries a maximum penalty of $10 000 or up to 2 years imprisonment.
Q. My dog has been made the subject of a destruction/control order. Can I appeal this decision?
A. When an order is made the council must give at least 7 days written notice and invite the owner to make submissions opposing the order. If the council does not give reasons in writing at the time of its decision you may request it to do so. This request must be complied with within 14 days of the decision being made. An appeal must be initiated either within 14 days of the decision or, where a request has been made for the decision to be communicated in writing, within 14 days of receiving the written reasons. Any decision made by the council will be suspended awaiting the results of the appeal.
Q. Under what circumstances can a dog be seized?
A. A dog can be seized in the following situations:
- if it has been found wandering at large
- if it is necessary to prevent the dog attacking, harassing or chasing a person or animal or bird
- if it is believed to be unduly dangerous
- if a dog management officer believes it is necessary to detain the dog in order to ensure that an order for its destruction is carried out
Q. Under what circumstances can a seized dog be destroyed or otherwise disposed of?
A. Where a dog has been seized for wandering at large it may be destroyed or otherwise disposed of if:
- the dog is not claimed within 72 hours of notice being given of its seizure
- money in relation to the dog is not paid within 7 days after request for payment made
In both instances the dog may be destroyed or otherwise disposed of (e.g. by sale). Destruction will be allowed where a dog is suffering injury, illness or disease to an extent that it is impracticable to maintain, or where a dog is suffering serious contagious disease. Destruction must be authorised by a veterinary surgeon or a stock inspector. If neither is available and urgent action is required in the circumstances, destruction will still be authorised under the Act [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 63].
Remember dogs that are properly identified need not be subjected to this process as they can be quickly returned to their owners
Any costs incurred for the seizure, detention or destruction of a dog can be recovered as a debt in court by the council.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.