Dangerous dogs

A dog may be considered as 'dangerous' if it has, without being provoked, attacked or killed a person or animal or repeatedly threatened to attack or chase a person or animal (other than vermin, such as rats).

Local Councils and Courts have the authority to declare a dog as dangerous throughout NSW, not just to the Council in which it was declared.

Once a dog has been declared dangerous, owners must keep their dog as per the requirements outlined in the Companion Animals Act 1998 and Companion Animals Amendment Act 2005. Owners can face severe penalties and/or the dog can be seized if the requirements are not met.

Declaring a dog to be dangerous

Council must give notice to the owner of a dog if it is to declare the dog as dangerous. 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.

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, then Council may finalise the declaration. If the owner does object within the 7 days, Council must first consider the objection before making the declaration.

Notification of a decision to declare a dog dangerous

Council must give notice to the dog owner if it declares the dog dangerous or decides not to declare the dog dangerous. A dangerous dog declaration has effect from the date specified in the notice or the date on which the notice is given.

Once a declaration is made, the owner of the animal must comply with the requirements for dangerous dogs as outlined in the Companion Animals Act and Regulation.

Appealing a dangerous dog declaration

An owner has the right to appeal against a dangerous dog declaration by applying to Council.

Council may revoke a declaration if it is satisfied the dog poses no major risk to the safety of the community. If Council refuses to revoke a declaration, the owner can make an appeal to a local Court against the declaration or against a refusal by the Council to revoke its declaration.

An appeal can only be made within 28 days after the date Council has given notice refusing to revoke the declaration.

Please note until the outcome of an appeal is known, a dog's status as dangerous still applies and the owner must comply with the requirements for dangerous dogs under the legislation.

Responsibilities of owners of declared dangerous dogs

An owner of a declared dangerous dog must ensure that the dog is:

  1. Desexed - The dog is required to be desexed (if not already) within 28 days after it has been declared dangerous. If the owner appeals against the declaration, this requirement applies until the appeal is either withdrawn or determined.
  2. Supervised - The dog must not at any time be in the sole charge of a person under the age of 18 years.
  3. Kept in an adequate enclosure - The dog must be kept in an enclosure that complies with the requirements outlined in the Regulations.
  4. Known to neighbours - 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 on which the dog is ordinarily kept, as per the Regulations.
  5. Identified with a distinctive collar - The dog must at all time wear a durable, secure, red and yellow striped collar, which complies with the Regulations.
  6. Wearing a lead and muzzle - Whenever the dog is outside its enclosure, the dog:
    • be under the effective control of someone by means of an adequate chain, cord or leash, and
    • have a muzzle securely fixed on its mouth 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 that 2 dogs (one of which is the dog to be declared dangerous) under their control at the one time.

  7. Registered - All dogs must be identified by microchip and registered on the Companion Animals Register.
  8. Updated with Council - The owner must notify the Council of the area in which the dog is ordinarily kept, 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 ownership of the dog has changed - notice to be given within 24 hours after the change
    • 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.