Dangerous Dogs or Restricted Dog Breeds
Dangerous Dogs and Restricted Dog Breeds, are two different categories of dogs completely. Not only this but people are being misinformed as to what breeds of dogs are covered in the above two categories.
The dangerous dog legislation is not the same as the restricted breed legislation. Any dog may be declared dangerous (from a small Chihuahua to a Great Dane) The dog’s size or breed is not the issue; it is the dog’s behaviour.
Declared Dangerous Dogs?
A declared dangerous dog is a dog that an authorised council officer or a local court has declared as dangerous because it:
- has, without provocation, attacked or killed a person or animal (not including vermin), or
- has, without provocation, repeatedly threatened to attack or repeatedly chased a person or animal (not including vermin), or
- is kept or used for hunting (not including a dog used for locating, flushing, pointing or retrieving birds or vermin), or
- has been declared a dangerous dog under a law of another State or a Territory that corresponds with the Act.
A declared menacing dog is a dog that an authorised council officer or a local court has declared as menacing because it:
- has displayed unreasonable aggression towards a person or animal (other than vermin), or
- has, without provocation, attacked a person or animal (other than vermin) but without causing serious injury or death, or
- has been declared a menacing dog under a law of another State or a Territory that corresponds with the Act.
Many people keep a dog to deter trespassers and burglars. There is no problem with this, providing that it does not become a danger to other people or animals, other than vermin (including displaying unreasonable aggression).
If you have evidence that a dog is dangerous or menacing, you should notify your local council.
Declared dangerous dogs. … The Domestic Animals Act 1994 empowers councils to declare a dog to be ‘dangerous‘ ( regardless of breed) if: the dog has caused serious injury or death to a person or animal. if the dog is a menacing dog and its owner has received at least 2 infringement notices for failing to comply with restraint requirements.
These laws differ in councils within Australia. Please look up your local council or call them for the latest laws.
Restricted dog breeds
Australia has a ban on dog breeds that were specifically bred for fighting. Importing these breeds to Australia is not permitted by law. This ban is in place to safeguard the public and other animals. Dog breeds that are banned in Australia are:
- Pit Bull Terrier breeds, including American Pit Bull Terrier
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasileiro
- Japanese Tosa
- Perro de Presa Canario or Presa Canario
The ban also extends to mix breeds of these breeds and to dogs that display any visible characteristics of the breeds mentioned above.
Australian law also does not allow the entry of domestic and non-domestic dog hybrids (such as wolf crosses) into the country. The following hybrids are not permitted to enter Australia:
- Czechoslovakian wolfdog or Czechoslovakian Vlcak
- Lupo Italiano or Italian wolfdog
- Kunming wolfdog or Kunming dog
- Saarloos wolfdog or Saarloos wolfhound
Restricted Dog BREEDS?
Of these, the Pit Bull Terrier and the Perro de Presa Canario are the only breeds currently known to exist in Australia.
The regulations also provide for a restricted breed dog to include any dog of a mixed breed that visibly contains any of the above prohibited breeds.
As of 2 November 2005, the Domestic (Feral and Nuisance) Animals Act 1994 makes it an offense to acquire a restricted breed dog. Persons applying to register their dog must make a declaration as to whether their dog is a restricted breed (a sizeable court penalty applies for a false declaration). Authorised officers (eg from the local council) also have the power to declare that a dog is a restricted breed. Councils may renew registration of existing registered and declared restricted breed dogs. However, councils cannot accept the registration of new restricted breed dogs unless they were housed in Victoria prior to 2 November 2005, and owners had genuinely believed their dog was not of a restricted breed. Dogs that were not registered before this date, may be seized and destroyed. These dogs will no longer be allowed to come into Victoria from other states.
Can I purchase I restricted Breed?
Restricted breed dogs that were registered before November 2005, must comply with a range of housing and ownership requirements, including the requirement for them to be microchipped, muzzled, and leashed in public.
All dogs declared a restricted breed or dangerous dog must also be desexed..
Owners of restricted breed dogs risk losing their dog and incurring heavy fines unless they register and declare their dogs with their local council.
Failure to declare the breed of your dog, if it is one of the restricted breeds above, or providing false information in a restricted breed dog declaration may result in a fine or prosecution in the Magistrates Court.
What happens if a dog is declared to be a restricted breed?
Within 7 days of making a declaration, an authorised officer must serve written notice of the declaration on the owner of the dog, either personally or by registered post. This notice will set out the legal requirements applying to restricted breed dogs that must be complied with within the specified time frames*. If the dog has been declared by the council, the notice will also contain information on how owners can apply for a review of the decision, if desired. An application for review must be made to the Minister for Agriculture, within 30 days of service of the notice, and be accompanied by a non refundable fee (see your local council for details).
An owner’s appeal of the decision to declare a dog will be heard by a review panel consisting of three people appointed by the Minister for Agriculture because of their knowledge of or experience in the identification of dog breeds. The decision of the review panel to affirm or set aside a declaration must be determined by a majority rule (ie at least two of the three members must agree).
*Most restricted breed dog ownership requirements must be complied with as soon as council serves written notice of the declaration. However, owners have longer to comply with requirements relating to the enclosure, warning signs and microchipping, and these time frames depend on whether an appeal is made.
Currently registered restricted breed dogs must be desexed.. Newly declared dogs must be immediately desexed unless the owner obtains a certificate from a veterinarian stating the dog cannot be desexed for health reasons.
The owner of a restricted breed dog must ensure that the animal is implanted with an ISO microchip in accordance with the Regulations (unless already microchipped.
This microchip identification number, along with other information as specified in the Regulations, must be supplied to the council with which the dog is registered within 7 days of the dog being microchipped.
It is important for a person with a valid reason to enter the premises (eg emergency services personnel) to know a restricted breed dog is present. The owner of a restricted breed dog must display prescribed warning signs at all entrances to the premises where the dog is kept warning people that a restricted breed dog is kept on the premises.
This warning sign must:
- Be a rectangle with a height of 10cm and a width of 30cm
- Be made of durable material
- Have a light turquoise background
- Have black bold 72 font, Times New Roman Text
- Have a 3 point black border around sign
- Have at least one colour that is reflective
For details of suppliers of restricted breed dog signs, contact your local council.
Housing on premises
When indoors or outdoors on the premises, the dog must be housed in such a way that it cannot escape, and that prevents it from injuring visitors to the premises. The dwelling and outdoor enclosure (or backyard where this forms the outdoor enclosure) must be constructed in such a manner that a person cannot have access to them without the assistance of an occupier of the premises who is of or over 18 years of age. The owner must also ensure there is an outdoor enclosure or backyard that must:
- Have a weatherproof sleeping area
- Contain lock/s that have self closing and self latching mechanisms on any gates into the enclosure, which can be (and are) locked when the dog is in the enclosure.
- Be constructed and maintained in a manner which prevents the dog from being able to dig or otherwise escape under, over or through the perimeter of the enclosure.
- Not be situated on premises in such a manner that people have to pass through the enclosure
- Have a minimum floor area of 10 square metres per restricted breed dog.
- Have a perimeter fence with a minimum height of 1.8 metres (if they believe the dog has escaped over the enclosure, an authorised officer may also require that this perimeter have an inward facing overhang of 0.7 metres angled at 35 degrees to the horizontal plane.
The outdoor enclosure must be constructed of:
- Brick, concrete, timber, iron or similar solid materials; or Chain mesh manufactured from 3.15mm wire to form a uniform 50mm mesh, or weld mesh manufactured from 4mm wire with a maximum mesh spacing of 50mm.
A combination of the above may be acceptable. The mesh size and construction detail is specified so that the enclosure will be escape proof and so that people, particularly small children, cannot fit body parts such as hands into the enclosure with the dog.
Restraint off premises
A restricted breed dog must be muzzled and leashed when outside the owner’s premises, and must be under the control of a person aged 18 or over.
Notification and Ownership Requirements
The owner of a restricted breed dog must notify the council that registered the dog within 24 hours if:
- The dog is missing
- The ownership of the dog changes
- The owner’s address changes
- The place where the dog is kept changes
- Restricted breed dogs should not be sold or given away to another person in Victoria. However if owners of restricted breed dogs decide to sell or give them away interstate, before doing so owners must advise the person in writing that the dog is a restricted breed dog. The owner of a restricted breed dog must not sell, give or otherwise transfer ownership of the dog to another person who is less than 18 years of age.
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