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Dog Attacks

f needed, please seek medical or veterinary attention immediately after a dog attack.

When safe to do so please report the dog attack to us on 8408 1111.

Time is critical when reporting a dog attack

Time is a critical factor in dealing with dog attacks, especially if the offending dog is wandering at large and still posing a risk to the public or other animals.

To assist Community Safety Officers in investigating the circumstances around the dog attack please provide where possible:

  • The date, time and exact location of the attack. If you’re not sure, use your GPS equipped smart phone to check on the map or the nearest street sign;
  • A description of the offending dog - registration disc, name tag, breed, colour, sex, markings, collar size and colour. These things ensure we identify the correct dog;
  • A description of the owner - name, address, contact phone number, male or female, age,  hair colour, clothing;
  • If a car was involved and the offender drove away with the dog - car registration number,  make, model and colour can assist us to track down the dog’s owner, and;
  • A description and photographs of any injuries and location on your body or your pet's body.

You should also keep copies of any medical certificates, vet or doctor bills as evidence.

What happens when a dog is reported?

  • Community Safety Officers will attend as soon as possible if contacted at the time of the dog attack;
  • A statement is usually taken from all personnel involved in the attack including witnesses;
  • Photos may be taken of any injuries to yourself, or your animals;
  • The dog's owner will be contacted to get their side of the incident;
  • Officers may seek other evidence as applicable to the investigation;
  • Officers assess the circumstances and evidence and make a decision for action;
  • Council will then take the appropriate action, and;
  • Inform the parties of the outcome.

Who is responsible?

You are responsible for your dog’s actions. It is an offence for a dog to attack, harass or chase a person, another animal or a bird owned by a person.

Find out more from the Dog and Cat Management Act, 1995

Depending on the severity of the attack, councils can:

  • Issue a warning;
  • Impose an on the spot fine of $315;
  • Take direct court action (in more serious cases);
  • Impose a control order (Nuisance, Dangerous Dog, Menacing Dog, or Destruction Order), and;
  • The maximum penalty for a dog attack is $2,500.

Preventing dog bites

There are many reasons why a dog might bite, including fear, pain or confusion when interacting with others. Please remember that all dogs, regardless of their size, can bite and deserve to be taken seriously. Ignoring signs of fear, stress, anxiety or aggression can result in serious injury to you, a member of your family, or others.

You can help reduce the risk of your dog biting by:

  • Socialising your dog appropriately and safely from a young age, to a variety of people, animals, places and surfaces.
  • Learning how to read your dog’s body language – your dog uses their body to communicate how well they’re coping. Watch them closely to gauge how they’re feeling. Complete our Dog Body Language Quiz to see how well you know your dog.
  • Training using RSPCA SA endorsed training methods can help you learn about your dog, teach them polite manners in public and increase your relationship with them. Training classes are also a good place to raise concerns you may have with your dog outside of class.
  • Avoiding situations that may cause your dog to become nervous or anxious.
  • Asking a qualified dog trainer or behavioural trainer for advice if your dog shows any signs of aggression or fear toward people.

Desexing your dog by 6 months of age is a requirement under the law, but may also help reduce aggression or fear related behaviours.

You can find out more about appropriate socialisation, body language, dog behaviour and training, managing kids and dogs, and preventing dog bites in our Animal Management Kit.

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