New dog laws to boost community safety

Published: 27 Sep 2016

The NSW Government is overhauling the way companion animals are managed in NSW, including creating a new category of "menacing dogs", to better protect the NSW community, Local Government Minster Don Page MP said today.

The new rules will allow councils to require owners of menacing dogs to muzzle their dogs in public, have them on a leash, under the control of a person over 18 years old, and ensure they are de-sexed.

The new law is part of a package of measures announced by Mr Page to respond to the Companion Animals and Dangerous Dogs Taskforce and to concerns about dangerous and threatening dogs in the NSW community.

"The Government has carefully considered the expert recommendations from the Taskforce and the more than 5300 submissions received in a public consultation, so that we can deliver a comprehensive response," Mr Page said.

"The NSW Government has listened to community concerns about the threat of dangerous dogs and we are acting to implement tougher dog controls and to enforce stronger penalties on the owners of dogs that exhibit violent behaviour."

Recent tragic dog attacks in Deniliquin and Ashcroft demonstrate why this is vitally important.

Mr Page said the new categories would boost community safety by giving more power to council rangers.

"The changes will mean that council rangers will be able to be more proactive. Under current legislation a dog has to attack before it can be declared dangerous," Mr Page said.

"This is a more proactive approach that is followed in other jurisdictions."

"As well, the Government is implementing stronger fines of up to $77,000 and jail terms of up to five years for owners whose dogs have been involved in serious attacks, and providing councils with more options to deal with these dogs and their owners."

"While there is no substitute for constant vigilance – particularly where young children are concerned - I believe these changes will significantly boost community safety.’"

"The Government intends to introduce legislation into the spring session of Parliament to implement these and other measures so that we can better protect the NSW community.

"The Government will adopt most of the recommendations of the Taskforce in full or in part.

"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the Companion Animals and Dangerous Dogs Taskforce and members of the public who provided their views and expertise on these important issues," Mr Page said.

Taskforce chairman Andrew Cornwell said he was pleased the Government had acted so quickly to boost community safety.

"The new category of menacing dogs will bring us into line with other States," said Mr Cornwell, who is the Member for Charlestown and is also a practising vet.

"Attacks by dangerous dogs are terrifying and something this Government takes very seriously," Mr Cornwell said.

"It is important we do all we can to use the law as a deterrent where dangerous dogs and irresponsible owners are concerned to stop these attacks."

The response includes the following key measures:

  • A new 'menacing dog' control category, allowing councils to require owners to muzzle their dog in public, be on a leash, under the control of someone 18 years of age or older and ensure it is desexed
  • Stronger penalties including maximum jail terms for owners whose dogs have been involved in an attack, increasing to a maximum five years for owners whose dogs have attacks after the owner has failed to comply with a menacing, dangerous, or restricted dog control requirement by council
  • Enabling councils to immediately seize an unmicrochipped dog for which notice of intention has been issued to declare the dog as menacing, dangerous, or restricted.
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