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Animals

An animal in the apparent ownership or control of a person should only come onto a private property with the occupier's permission. If permission is not given, or is given and withdrawn, the animal's presence may be a trespass and can be dealt with in the same way as trespass of an object, see trespassers.

A person who owns or controls an animal is responsible for any damage caused if reasonable care is not taken to control the animal.

Animal includes all beasts, birds, reptiles, fish and insects.

Local councils have the power to make by-laws controlling the keeping of animals, and these vary from council to council. There are also provisions relating to the control and management of dogs and cats in the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA).

A breach of various provisions in the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) can result in a fine or a court summons being issued to the offender, see: Summary of offences and penalties under the Dog and Cat Management Act at 1 July 2017

There were significant changes to the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) which commenced on 1 July 2017. Further amendments also commended on 1 July 2018. Detailed information about the changes has been added to this chapter where relevant, but below is a brief overview of the changes.

  • The Dog and Cat Management Board now keeps and maintains a register of microchipped and de-sexed dogs and cats. The register is contained via the Dogs and Cats Online Website.
  • Accreditation of assistance dogs can now be done by a prescribed accreditation body (e.g. the Royal Society for the Blind, Guide Dogs or Lions Hearing Dogs);
  • Clarification of circumstances under which a dog can be destroyed, seized or detained;
  • Increased powers to destroy, seize or detain unidentified cats in reserves, sanctuaries or non-residential areas;
  • Powers for authorised persons to require a name, address and identification of a person they reasonably believe to be in contravention of the Act and to require them to answer questions;
  • Powers to de-sex and microchip dangerous dogs seized under the Act and to recover these costs from the owner;
  • Powers for animal welfare organisations to recover costs for the detention and/or destruction of animals, regardless of whether the animal has been returned to the owner;
  • Indemnification of animal welfare organisations against payment of compensation to the owner of a destroyed or disposed of animal;
  • Substantial increases to penalties under the Act [in many instances doubling the existing penalty].

Further requirements in relation to microchipping, desexing, registration, and the breeding and sale of dogs and cats commenced on 1 July 2018. These requirements include:

  • Compulsory microchipping of dogs and cats
  • Compulsory de-sexing of dogs and cats born on or after 1 July 2018;
  • Measures to reduce the likelihood of puppy or kitten farms operating in South Australia including a new breeder registration scheme under which registered breeders must adhere to a code of practice [see Australian Standards and Guidelines for Breeding and Trading Companion Animals which commenced under Schedule 2 of the Animal Welfare Regulations 2012 (SA) on 1 August 2017].
  • Only registered breeders are allowed to sell dogs or cats with a list of breeders to be maintained by the Dog and Cat Management Board, through the Dogs and Cats Online Website.
  • SACAT now has jurisdiction to review decisions made by local councils and the Dog and Cat Management Board.
  • There are prescribed circumstances where a person will be deemed to have bred a dog or cat, see Breeding Dogs and Cats.

Dog ownership

Who is responsible for a dog?

An owner includes the registered owner, the last registered owner (if unregistered), or a person who has apparent ownership (if unregistered) (unless proved to the contrary) [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 5].

A person who has possession or control of the dog is also responsible for the dog. If a dog is seen in company with or closely and continuously following a person immediately before any alleged offence against the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA), the person will be taken to have had possession or control of the dog (unless proved to the contrary) [s 6(2)].

Anyone who keeps a dog is also liable for the dog [s 66]. This includes an occupier of premises where a dog is kept or permitted to live, unless it can be shown that someone else over the age of 16 years was responsible for the dog [s 6(3)].

Dog registration

Is dog registration compulsory?

Yes. All dogs over three months old must be registered in the name of a person aged 16 years or older [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) ss 33, 34].

From 1 July 2018, dog registration occurs via the Dogs and Cats Online Website, which is now the centre point for registration, microchipping and breeder registration in South Australia.

Special registration procedures apply for businesses involving dogs, namely kennels at which dogs are bred or trained or businesses providing security or other services involving the use of dogs [s 35].

If the owner or person responsible for the dog fails to register the dog, the council may issue an expiation notice for that offence or a summons to answer the charge and pay a fine [s 33].

Maximum Penalty:

Dangerous or prescribed dogs: a fine of up to $5 000

In an other case: a fine of up to $2 500

Expiation fee

Dangerous or prescribed dogs: $750

Any other dog: $170

The council can issue a further expiation notice or summons for every 14 days that the dog continues to remain unregistered [see s 33(3)].

Cat registration

There is some regulation on the keeping of cats, although little when compared to that upon dogs.

Is cat registration compulsory?

Cat registration is not required under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA), but may be required pursuant to by-laws made by individual local councils [s 90(2)(e)]. Please consult your local council. Councils can also limit the number of cats kept on premises and so forth, see Powers of local councils.

In most instances it is, however, compulsory to both microchip and desex a cat, see Microchipping and Desexing.

Duties of dog owners

What are my duties as a dog owner?

Dog owners have the following duties:

  • register the dog [s 33];
  • microchip the dog [s 42A];
  • desex the dog [42E];
  • to keep the dog under effective control, generally this means on a leash no longer than 2 metres [s 8, 43];
  • to keep dog from entering private property without consent [ss 7, 43];
  • to prevent the dog from wandering at large [s 43];
  • to keep the dog from attacking, harassing or chasing any person or animal or bird owned by a person [s 44];
  • to immediately collect and dispose of dog’s faeces from a public place [s 45A(6)] (expiation fee $210);
  • to keep the dog from persistent or extensive barking [s 45A(5)] (expiation fee $315);
  • to keep the dog from rushing at or chasing vehicles [s 45A(4)];
  • to keep the dog physically restrained (in an enclosure or tethered so it cannot fall or escape) when being transported in the open tray of a utility or similar vehicle [s 45(1)] (expiation fee $210);
  • to keep the dog (other than an assistance dog) from entering education facilities or shops without permission [ss 45A(2) and (3)];
  • to ensure the dog wears a collar around its neck with the registration disc last issued to the dog, at all times when it is not confined to the owner's premises [see Dog and Cat Regulations 2017 (SA) reg 9(1)].

Both the Dog and Cat Management Board and local councils can issue expiation notices or summonses if dog owners do not fulfil these duties. It is a defence to any charge under the Act if the offence was not committed intentionally and did not result from any failure on the part of the person to take reasonable care to avoid committing the offence [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 86].

When a court convicts a person of an offence against the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA), it can also make a variety of orders to stop any danger or nuisance. Depending on the circumstances, the court may order that a dog be destroyed or controlled in a certain way, that the owner may not acquire another dog for a certain period, or that the victim is paid compensation for injury or damage [s 47].

What are my duties as a dog sitter?

Apart from registration, (unless you are dog-sitting and the registration expires), you have the same duties as the owner of the dog. This is because the same laws apply to both the owner and the person responsible for the dog.

Before you agree to dog-sit, you should ask whether the dog’s registration is up to date.

Can I take my dog everywhere with me?

Unless the dog is an accredited assistance dog, any person responsible for the control of a dog is guilty of an offence if the dog is in a shop (not being a pet shop, grooming parlour or vet surgeon) without the permission of the shop keeper.

Expiation fee: $315.

See Dog and Cat Management Act 1955 (SA) s 45A(3).

Types of dogs

Are there different rules for particular types of dog?

Yes.

Prescribed Breeds

The Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) contains additional restrictions on prescribed breeds of dogs. This currently applies to:

  • American Pit Bull Terrier,
  • Fila Braziliero,
  • Japanese Tosa,
  • Dogo Argentina and
  • Presa Canario

[Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 4].

While not confined to the premises of the owner or person responsible for the control of the prescribed dog, these dogs must be muzzled and under the effective control of a person by means of physical restraint [s 45B(1)]. It is an offence to breach this requirement.

The owners and people responsible for dogs of these breeds are given much higher penalties for most offences under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA).

Greyhounds

While not confined to the premises of the owner or person responsible for the control of the greyhound, these dogs must be muzzled and under the effective control of a person by means of physical restraint (unless exempt from wearing a muzzle, in which case they must still be under effective control) [s 45C]. It is an offence to breach this requirement.

Attack trained dogs, guard dogs and patrol dogs

The owner or person responsible for these dogs must ensure that [s 45D]:

  • at all times while on the premises of the person who is responsible for the control of the dog, be kept indoors or in an enclosure constructed in such a way as to prevent the dog escaping.
  • wear a collar that complies with the requirements of the Dog and Cat Management Board at all times, unless it would be injurious to its health
  • when not confined to the premises of the person who is responsible for the control of the dog, be under the effective control of a person by means of physical restraint
  • warning signs (complying with the requirements of the Dog and Cat Management Board) must be displayed on the premises where the dog is usually kept.

It is an offence to breach these requirements.

Maximum Penalty: fine of up to $5 000

Expiation fee: $315.

Assistance dogs

Those who are wholly or partially blind or deaf, or otherwise disabled, are entitled to take an accredited assistance dog onto any place or premises. It is an offence for an occupier or person in charge of a public place or public passenger vehicle to refuse access to a person on the ground that they are accompanied by an assistance dog [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 81]. It is an offence to claim that a dog is an assistance dog unless it is accredited under the Act or covered by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth).

The following are prescribed accreditation bodies under the Act and regulations:

  • The Dog and Cat Management Board;
  • The Royal Society for the Blind of SA Inc;
  • The Guide Dogs Association of SA and NT Inc;
  • Lions Hearing Dogs Inc;
  • Assistance Dogs Australia;
  • Righteous Pups Australia Inc;
  • Vision Australia;
  • Guide Dogs WA;
  • Guide Dogs Queensland;
  • Guide Dogs NSW/ACT;
  • Guide Dogs Victoria;
  • Guide Dogs Tasmania

See Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 21(7); Dog and Cat Management Regulations 2017 (SA) reg 5.

Microchipping

Is microchipping compulsory?

New requirements contained in the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) and its regulations mean that as of 1 July 2018, microchipping of dogs and cats is in most instances compulsory.

Microchipping and can enable lost dogs and cats to be quickly reunited with their owners.

A dog or cat must be microchipped before they are sold [see Dog and Cat Management Regulations 2017 (SA) reg 10(1)(a)]. In any event, a dog or cat must otherwise be mircochipped:

  • before they reach 12 weeks' of age; OR
  • within 28 days of an owner taking possession of the animal,

whichever occurs later.

See Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) ss 42A and 70(1); Dog and Cat Management Regulations 2017 (SA) regs 10 and 18(1).

However, dogs and cats that are sold from one breeder to another are exempt from this requirement [see reg 18(4)(a)], as are dogs and cats that are sold and not kept in South Australia [see reg 18(4)(c)].

A dog or cat that is not required to be microchipped must still wear a collar containing both the registration disc last issued to dog or cat, and the contact details of the owner [see Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 42C].

What is the penalty for failing to microchip my dog or cat?

As of 1 July 2018, the maximum penalties for failing to microchip a dog or cat are:

Prescribed breed, attack trained dogs, guard dogs or patrol dogs: fine of up to $5 000

In any other case: fine of up to $2 500

Expiation fee:

Prescribed breed, attack trained dogs, guard dogs or patrol dogs: $750

In any other case: $170.

See Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 42A(2).

What if my dog or cat remains without a microchip after I pay a fine for failing to comply?

The council can issue a further expiation notice or summons for every three months that the dog or cat remains without a microchip. The three month period commences from the day on which the person was found guilty of the original offence, or the day on which they paid the original fine, whichever applies.

See Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 42B.

What if microchipping would pose an undue risk to the health of a dog or cat or adversely affect their growth, development and wellbeing?

A registered veterinary surgeon may grant an exemption from the requirements to microchip a particular dog or cat for these reasons [reg 13(2)]. An exemption due to the health of the dog or cat may be for a limited or an indefinite period, but an exemption due to the growth, development and wellbeing may only be for a maximum of 18 months [reg 13(4)(b)]. The exemption must be by notice in writing as required by the Dog and Cat Management Board [reg13(5)]. The Board or the registered veterinary surgeon may vary or revoke an exemption if it is no longer necessary [reg 13(7)].

What if a dog or cat was microchipped interstate?

If a dog or cat has already been microchipped in another State or Territory in accordance with the law of that State or Territory, then as long as it conforms to the Australian Standards and records a unique identification number, it will be taken to have been microchipped in accordance with the requirements in South Australia [regs 10(8) and 18(3)].

Must owners report to a register of dogs and cats?

Yes. From 1 July 2017, the Dog and Cat Management Board began keeping a register of dogs and cats that have been microchipped and desexed [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 21B]. The register is called Dogs and Cats Online.

Dogs and Cats Online replaced the previous 68 individual council dog and cat registers and as of 1 July 2018, became the centre point for registration payments, mirochipping and breeder information in South Australia.

Under the regulations and from 15 August 2018, a person who microchips a dog or cat is required to, within 5 days of the microchipping procedure, register that information on Dogs and Cats Online, or provide that information to the Registrar of Dogs for the council where the vet practices.

There is also an obligation for an owner of a dog or cat to, in a manner and form prescribed by the Dog and Cat Management Board, within 14 days notify the Board of an changes to their name, residential address or telephone number [Dog and Cat Management Regulations 2017 (SA) reg 10(6)].

Maximum Penalty: fine of up to $2 500

Expiation fee: $170

From more information about microchipping and desexing, go to www.gooddogsa.com or www.goodcatsa.com, or visit Dogs and Cats Online.

Desexing

New requirements contained in the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) and its regulations mean that as of 1 July 2018, it is in most instances compulsory to desex your dog or cat.

A dog or cat must be desexed:

  • Before they reach six months' of age; OR
  • Within 28 days of an owner taking possession of the animal,

whichever is later.

See Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) ss 42E and 70(2); Dog and Cat Management Regulations 2017 (SA) regs 12 and 18(2).

This means that dogs and cats that are aged six months or older before 1 July 2018 are exempt from the requirement to be desexed, but those born on or after 1 July 2018 must comply with these requirements.

Working livestock dogs are exempt from the requirements to be desexed [see Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 42D].

What is the penalty for failing to desex my dog or cat?

As of 1 July 2018, the maximum penalties for failing to desex a dog or cat are:

Prescribed breed, attack trained dogs, guard dogs or patrol dogs: fine of up to $5 000

In any other case: fine of up to $2 500

Expiation fee:

Prescribed breed, attack trained dogs, guard dogs or patrol dogs: $750

In any other case: $170.

See Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 42E.

What if my dog or cat is not desexed after I pay a fine for failing to comply?

The council can issue a further expiation notice or summons for every three months that the dog or cat fails to be desexed. The three month period commences from the day on which the person was found guilty of the original offence, or the day on which they paid the original fine, whichever applies [see s 42F].

What if de-sexing would pose an undue risk to the health of a dog or cat or adversely affect their growth, development and wellbeing?

A registered veterinary surgeon may grant an exemption from the requirements to de-sex a particular dog or cat for these reasons [see Dog and Cat Management Regulations 2017 (SA) reg 13(2)]. An exemption due to the health of the dog or cat may be for a limited or an indefinite period, but an exemption due to the growth, development and wellbeing may only be for a maximum of 18 months [reg 13(4)(b)]. The exemption must be by notice in writing as required by the Dog and Cat Management Board [reg13(5)]. The Board or the registered veterinary surgeon may vary or revoke an exemption if it is no longer necessary [reg 13(7)].

What if a dog or cat was de-sexed interstate?

If a dog or cat has already been de-sexed in another State or Territory in accordance with the law of that State or Territory, then as long as it conforms to the Australian Standards and records a unique identification number, it will be taken to have been de-sexed in accordance with the requirements in South Australia [regs 10(8) and 18(3)].

From more information about microchipping and desexing, go to www.gooddogsa.com or www.goodcatsa.com, or visit Dogs and Cats Online.

Lost and wandering dogs

What if a dog wanders off?

If a dog is found to be “wandering at large”, then an authorised person (of the Dog and Cat Management Board or a local council) can seize the dog (see Seizure and destruction) and issue the owner or person responsible for the dog with an expiation notice or a summons to answer a charge and pay a fine [see s 43 Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA)].

Maximum Penalty:

For a dangerous of prescribed dog

  • For a first offence: a fine of up to $5 000
  • For a subsequent offence: a fine of up to $10 000

Expiation fee:

Dangerous or prescribed dog: $750

Any other dog: $210.

A dog is considered to be “wandering at large” if it is in a public place (not a park) or on private property without the occupier’s consent, without anyone exercising effective control of the dog by means of physical restraint [s 7].

A dog is considered to be “wandering at large” in a public park if no one is exercising effective control of the dog either by means of physical restraint or by command; the dog being close to and within sight at all times [s 7].

It is a defence to this charge if the defendant can prove that he or she had taken all reasonable steps to prevent the dog from wandering at large [s 43(2)].

Where a person is found guilty of a subsequent offence the court may order that the dog be disposed of within a specified period or controlled in a certain way [s 43(3)].

What is “effective control”?

A dog is considered to be under “effective control” by means of physical restraint if on a leash chain or cord no more than two metres in length; or it is secured in a cage, vehicle or other object or structure [see s 8].

Can I search an online register for a lost dog or cat?

Yes. Dogs and Cats online has a search function available to search their register for a lost animal, by either the animal's registration number or microchip number. The register can be searched via the Dogs and Cats Online website.

Barking dogs

If a dog (either alone or together with other dogs) creates a noise, by barking or otherwise, which persistently occurs or continues to such a degree or extent that it unreasonably interferes with the peace and comfort of another person, then the Dog and Cat Management Board or the local council can issue the owner or person responsible for the dog with an expiation notice or a summons to answer a charge and pay a fine [see s 45A(5) Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA)].

Expiation fee $315

Both the Dog And Cat Management Board and local councils also have the power to issue Control (Barking Dog) Orders. They can issue this order on their own initiative or on an application from someone, if satisfied that the dog is a nuisance and has created noise by barking or otherwise in circumstances that would constitute an offence under s 45A(5), described above. The order requires that all reasonable steps be taken to prevent the dog from repeating the behaviour that gave rise to the order and the dog and the person responsible for the dog undertake specified training courses [see ss 50(6), 51(e)]. If the dog then repeats the behaviour, the person who owns or is responsible for the dog can be issued with an expiation notice or a summons to answer a charge and pay a fine.

Maximum Penalty: fine of up to $2 500

Expiation fee: $400

See Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 55(1).

From more information about excessive barking, go to www.gooddogsa.com, a website of the Dog and Cat Management Board.

The Local Nuisance and Litter Control 2016 (SA), which deals with other nuisance situations, specifically excludes barking dogs from being considered a 'nuisance' under that Act [see s17(5)(o)]. This means that barking dog complaints must be dealt with by the Dog and Cat Management Board and local councils, as described above.

Dog attacks

What if a dog attacks?

If a dog attacks, harasses or chases a person or an animal or bird owned by a person, then either the Dog and Cat Management Board or the local council can issue the owner or person responsible for the dog with an expiation notice or a summons to answer a charge and pay a fine [see Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 44(2)].

A person who sets on or urges a dog to attack, harass or chase, could face imprisonment for up to two years [s 44(1)].

Dogs being used in the reasonable defence of any person or property, or working dogs, are exempt from these provisions.

Any person may lawfully destroy or injure a dog if that action is reasonable and necessary for the protection of life or property [s 59D(1)(a)]. In addition, the Dog and Cat Management Board or the local council may consider making a Destruction or Control Order following a dog attack, see Control and Destruction Orders.

A person who suffers injury or damage from a dog attack may be able to claim compensation. For discussion on whether owners are responsible for injuries caused by their dogs, see Accidents involving animals.

An example of a case discussing damages for injury received as a result of a dog attack is Boothey v Morris [2002] SASC 126. The plaintiff in this case suffered a serious injury to her hand which affected her capacity to work as a massage therapist. She was bitten by the defendant’s dog when talking to the defendant. The dog was on a short leash and sitting next to the defendant. The plaintiff reached out her hand to the dog to enable it to smell her. A conversation followed between the two women during which time the plaintiff left her hand near the dog. As she withdrew her hand, the dog lunged at her and bit her hand. The plaintiff had not made any excessive noise or sudden movements. Neither woman had any warning of the attack. The plaintiff also claimed to have suffered psychological damage as a consequence of the attack. The original amount awarded in judgment was revised on appeal and an amount of $211 607.01 was awarded.

Powers of local councils

What powers do local councils have in relation to dogs and cats?

Local councils have the power to make by-laws in relation to the management of dogs and cats within their areas [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 90]. These by-laws may —

  • limit the number of dogs and cats kept on premises;
  • fix periods during which dogs and cats must be effectively confined to premises occupied by a person who is responsible for or entitled to the dog or cat;
  • require dogs or cats to be identified in a specified manner, or in specified circumstances;
  • make provision for a registration scheme for cats (including payment of a fee);and
  • set aside specified areas where dogs are prohibited.

The Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) also allows for local councils to issue the following orders in relation to dogs [s 50]:

  • Destruction Order
  • Control (Dangerous Dog) Order
  • Control (Menacing Dog) Order
  • Control (Nuisance Dog) Order
  • Control (Barking Dog) Order

What powers do authorised council officers have?

The Dog and Cat Management Board and local councils may appoint suitable persons to be authorised to exercise powers under the Dog And Cat Management Act 1995 (SA). Authorised persons are able to [s 25D]:

  • enter and inspect any place or vehicle
  • require a person to produce a dog or cat for inspection
  • require a person who owns or is responsible for a dog or cat to produce evidence that the dog is microchipped or desexed or both
  • require a person to produce documents or records for inspection or copying
  • carry out tests, take measurements, photographs, films or video recordings
  • seize and retain anything that is reasonably suspected to constitute evidence of a contravention of the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA)
  • 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
  • require a person reasonably suspected to have knowledge of relevant matters to answer questions
  • give expiation notices to persons alleged to have committed offences under the Act
  • give any directions reasonably required in connection with the exercise of powers

The power to enter and inspect any place or vehicle can only be exercised [s25D(2)]:

  • with the consent of the owner or occupier of a place, or the owner of a vehicle, or
  • on the authority of a warrant, or
  • to seize a dog found wandering at large, or
  • to seize a dog when urgent action is reasonably believed to be required

A person may request to see and inspect an authorised council officer’s identity card [s 25B(3)].

What if I refuse to cooperate?

Entry onto property or of vehicles will initially be with the consent of the owner/occupier. However, the authorised council officer can apply for a warrant if refused entry and if issued, they may then use reasonable force to gain entry [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 25D]. It is an offence under the Act to hinder an authorised person in the course of his/her duties [s 31]. It is also an offence to use abusive or threatening language or to refuse to comply with a requirement of an authorised person [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 31]. The maximum penalty for such offences is $5 000 [s 31(1)]. An assault on an authorised person carries a maximum penalty of $10 000 or up to 2 years imprisonment [s 31(2)].

Control and destruction orders

Before a control or destruction order can be issued the council must give at least seven days written notice inviting the owner and all those responsible for the dog to explain why an order should not be made [s 52]. If an order is made, the council can give written directions on how orders are to be complied with [s 53].

Breaching an order is an offence unless the owner can prove that she or he was unaware the order had been made [s 55]. An authorised council officer may also seize, detain and destroy a dog, because orders have been contravened or to give effect to orders, see Seizure and destruction of dogs.

Destruction Order

The local council may make a Destruction Order if satisfied that the dog is unduly dangerous and the dog has attacked, harassed or chased a person or an animal or bird owned by a person in circumstances that would constitute an offence [see Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 51(a)]. See also, Dog attacks.

This order requires that the dog be destroyed within a specified period (not less than one month after the order takes effect), and that until destroyed the dog be kept or detained at a place specified in the order or approved by the council [s 50(2)].

Control (Dangerous Dog) Order

The local council may make a Control (Dangerous Dog) Order if satisfied that the dog is dangerous and the dog has attacked, harassed or chased a person, animal or bird, or is likely to do so, in circumstances that would constitute an offence (or is subject to an order of another jurisdiction that corresponds to a Control (Dangerous Dog) Order) [see Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 51(b)].

This order requires the dog [s 50(3)]:

  • be desexed within a specified period (if not already)
  • be microchipped within a specified period (if not already)
  • be kept indoors at the owner’s premises or within fencing of the premises to prevent the dog escaping
  • wear a collar that complies with the requirements of the Dog and Cat Management Board at all times, unless it would be injurious to its health
  • except while confined to the owner’s premises, have a muzzle securely fixed on its mouth to prevent it from biting and be under effective control by reason of physical restraint, and
  • the person responsible for the dog to undertake specified training courses

Warning signs (complying with the requirements of the Dog and Cat Management Board) must also be prominently displayed at all entrances to where the dog is usually kept.

All reasonable steps must be taken to prevent the dog from repeating the behaviour that gave rise to the order.

If a dog subject to this order is seized and detained, it may be microchipped and desexed, with the cost recoverable from the owner as a debt due to the council [see ss 61(5) and (6)].

Control (Menacing Dog) Order

The local council may make a Control (Menacing Dog) Order if satisfied that the dog is menacing and the dog has attacked, harassed or chased a person, animal or bird, or is likely to do so, in circumstances that would constitute an offence (or is subject to an order of another jurisdiction that corresponds to a Control (Menacing Dog) Order) [see Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 51(c)].

This order requires the dog [s 50(4)]:

  • be microchipped within a specified period (if not already)
  • be kept indoors at the owner’s premises or within fencing of the premises to prevent the dog escaping
  • wear a collar that complies with the requirements of the Dog and Cat Management Board at all times, unless it would be injurious to its health
  • except while confined to the owner’s premises, have a muzzle securely fixed on its mouth to prevent it from biting and be under effective control by reason of physical restraint, and
  • the person responsible for the dog to undertake specified training courses

All reasonable steps must be taken to prevent the dog from repeating the behaviour that gave rise to the order.

Control (Nuisance Dog) Order

The local council may make a Control (Nuisance Dog) Order if satisfied that the dog is a nuisance and the dog has attacked, harassed or chased a person, animal or bird, or is likely to do so, in circumstances that would constitute an offence (or is subject to an order of another jurisdiction that corresponds to a Control (Nuisance Dog) Order) [see Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 51(d)].

This order requires the dog [s 50(5)]:

  • be kept indoors at the owner’s premises or within fencing of the premises to prevent the dog escaping
  • except while confined to the owner’s premises, be under effective control by reason of physical restraint, and
  • the person responsible for the dog to undertake specified training courses

All reasonable steps must be taken to prevent the dog from repeating the behaviour that gave rise to the order.

Control (Barking Dog) Order

See Barking dogs.

Where a council has issued a Control or Destruction Order, there is an appeal process available to review the order, see: Review of Control or Destruction Orders .

Review of Control and Destruction Orders

My dog has been made the subject of a destruction/control order. Can I appeal this decision?

As of 1 July 2018, appeals of destruction and/or control orders are heard in the South Australian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (SACAT).

An avenue of appeal lies within SACAT of certain decisions and orders made under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA). Such decisions were formerly reviewed by the Administrative and Disciplinary Division of the District Court.

A person can apply to SACAT within 14 days of receiving notice of the relevant decision/order, in relation to the following orders:

  • A Destruction Order;
  • A Control (Dangerous Dog) Order;
  • A Control (Menacing Dog) Order;
  • A Control (Nuisance Dog) Order;
  • A Control (Barking Dog) Order;
  • A Prohibition Order.

See Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 72(4).

SACAT can also, upon application, review a decision to refuse to allow the release of a dog or cat that is being detained under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA), or any other decision that SACAT is declared to have jurisdiction over [see ss 72(4)(b) and 72(4)(c)].

Applications made outside of the allowed 14 day period will only be heard if special circumstances exist to grant an extension of time, and if the other party will not be unreasonably disadvantaged because of the delay in proceedings [s 72(3)].

Seizure and destruction of dogs

When can a dog be seized?

A dog wandering at large can be seized by an authorised person [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 60]. A dog may also be seized if an authorised person reasonably believes that:

  • it is necessary to seize the dog to prevent or stop the dog attacking, harassing or chasing a person or animal or bird owned by a person
  • the dog is unduly dangerous
  • the person who owns or is responsible for the dog has contravened an order
  • the person who owns or is responsible for the dog is subject to a Prohibition Order, an order prohibiting the person from acquiring or becoming responsible for a dog
  • it is necessary to detain the dog so as to carry out a destruction order.

Notice of the seizure must be given to the owner or person responsible for the dog (if known) or exhibited on the local council or police station notice board for at least 72 hours (giving a description of the dog, the day and time it was seized, and contact details of a person or body to whom further enquiries can be made) [ss 61(2) and (3)].

If the dog is seized because it is necessary to prevent the dog from attacking, harassing or chasing a person or animal or bird owned by a person or because it is unduly dangerous, the local council must give notice of an intention to make or apply for an order in relation to the dog within seven days, or return the dog to the owner or person responsible for it [s 61(4)].

A seized dog may be microchipped and desexed, with the cost recoverable from the owner as a debt [s 64B]. A person is not entitled to the return of a dog unless they prove their ownership or responsibility for the dog and pay all outstanding fees and charges owing in relation to the dog’s seizure and detention and otherwise, and register the dog (if unregistered) [s 64C]. Even if a dog is returned, the fees and charges owing in relation to the dog’s seizure and detention can still be recovered against the owner as a debt [s 64E].

When can a dog be destroyed?

A dog that has been seized for wandering at large may be destroyed or otherwise disposed of (e.g. by sale) where [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 62(1)]:

  • the dog is not claimed within 72 hours of notice being given of its seizure
  • the registered owner declines to take possession
  • money in relation to the dog is not paid within seven days after request for payment

Dogs found wandering at large but that are properly identified need not be subjected to this process as they can be quickly returned to their owners.

Dogs that cannot be seized due to their savagery or repeated evasion of seizure [s 60(2)] or that are so injured or diseased that it is impractical to maintain them may be destroyed [s 62(3)]. However, in the latter case, the dog cannot be destroyed unless a veterinary surgeon or stock inspector have given written approval or urgent action is required.

A person who destroys a dog must take reasonable steps to inform the owner and must notify the local council [s 64D].

Ownership of a dog destroyed under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) is taken to have vested in the operator of the facility at which the dog was detained immediately beforehand, and no compensation is payable to the previous owner for the dog’s destruction [s 64F]. In fact, the operator of the facility at which the dog was detained may recover some costs from the owner for the dog’s seizure, detention and destruction [s 64E].

Seizure and destruction of cats

When can a cat be seized and destroyed?

The Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) [ss 63 and 64A] allows a cat to be seized, detained and destroyed by an authorised person where the cat is found [s 63]:

  • in a reserve or sanctuary (within the meaning of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972) or a wilderness protection area or zone (within the meaning of the Wilderness Protection Act 1992)
  • in a designated area by the owner or occupier or a person authorised by the owner or occupier
  • in any other place, and the cat does not have the owner's name, address and phone number on a collar or microchip.

A person who is not authorised, but who finds a cat in any of the above situations, may seize the cat and then within twelve hours deliver it to a veterinary surgeon or facility for the care of cats [s 64], who may then destroy or otherwise dispose of the cat (e.g. by sale) [s 64A].

However, any person who finds a cat in a remote place that is more than one kilometre from any genuine residence may destroy the cat [s 63(1)(c)]. A person who destroys a cat must take reasonable steps to inform the owner and must notify the local council [s 64D].

A seized cat may be microchipped and desexed, with the cost recoverable from the owner as a debt [s 64B]. A person is not entitled to the return of a cat unless they prove their ownership or responsibility for the cat and pay all outstanding fees and charges owing in relation to the cat’s seizure and detention and otherwise, and register the cat (if required) [s 64C]. Even if a cat is returned, the fees and charges owing in relation to the cat’s seizure and detention can still be recovered against the owner as a debt [s 64E].

Ownership of a cat destroyed under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) is taken to have vested in the operator of the facility at which the cat was detained immediately beforehand, and no compensation is payable to the previous owner for the cat’s destruction [s 64F]. In fact, the operator of the facility at which the cat was detained may recover some costs from the owner for the cat’s seizure, detention and destruction [s 64E].

Breeding dogs and cats

Breeders of dogs and cats must adhere to the South Australian Standards and Guidelines for Breeding and Trading Companion Animals, which came into effect on 1 August 2017. The Standards set out minimum health and welfare requirements for breeding and selling companion animals. The Standards must also be adhered to by pet shops, shelters, and any other venue where companion animals are sold.

Breeding a dog or cat

A person can apply to the Dog and Cat Management Board to be registered as a breeder. Any person wanting to sell a dog or cat that they have bred must not sell the animal unless:

  • they are registered with the Dog and Cat Management Board as a breeder; or
  • they are registered with an approved representative body (as defined by regulation); or
  • they are registered as a breeder under the laws of another jurisdiction.

See Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 69.

There is a blanket provision against breeding and/or selling a dog of a prescribed breed [see ss 4, 69(2) and 70(6)].

It is an offence for a person to sell a dog or cat that they have bred without first being registered in one of the above ways.

Maximum Penalty: fine of up to $5 000

Expiation fee: $315.

A person will be taken to have bred a dog or cat if the person:

  • provides the semen or ova used to breed the dog or cat; or
  • provides any assistance in the course of breeding the dog or cat; or
  • provides facilities used in the course of breeding the dog or cat.

See Dog and Cat Management Regulations 2017 (SA) reg 17(1).

In addition to the above, a person will also be taken to have bred a dog or cat if they allow, or fail to take reasonable steps to prevent:

  • their dog or cat impregnating another dog or cat; or
  • their dog or cat from being impregnated by another dog or cat.

See Dog and Cat Management Regulations 2017 (SA) reg 17(2).

However, a person will not be considered to be a breeder if they seize a pregnant dog or cat in the circumstances prescribed in sections 61 and 64A of the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA).

A person must not sell a dog (except for a livestock dog) or a cat unless the animal has been microchipped and desexed [see Dog and Cat Management Regulations 2017 (SA) reg 10(1)(a)].

Maximum Penalty: fine of up to $5 000

Expiation fee: $315

These requirements apply regardless of whether or not the person actually selling the dog or cat is also the breeder of the animal [see Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 70(3)]. The requirements do not apply to dogs or cats sold from one breeder to another, nor to the sale of a dog or cat that is not going to be kept in South Australia [Dog and Cat Management Regulations 2017 (SA) regs 18(4)(a) and 18(4)(c)].

Selling dogs and cats

A person selling a dog or cat has specific obligations to provide the new owner certain information in writing.

The written information that must be provided includes (where applicable):

  • The name, address and telephone number of the seller [reg 19(1)];
  • The name, address and telephone number of each breeder and if they are registered, their identification number [reg 18(2)];
  • Whether or not the dog or cat has been vaccinated and if so, which vaccinations were administered [reg 19(3)(a)];
  • Whether or not the dog or cat has been desexed, and if it has, the date and location of the desexing procedure, the age of the animal at that time, and the name and address of the vet who performed the procedure [reg 19(3)];
  • Whether or not the dog or cat has been micorchipped, and if it has, the microchip number and details of when and where the microchip procedure was performed [reg 19(4)];
  • Other relevant information including whether the dog or cat has been subject to any exemptions from microchipping or desexing, and any details of any illness or medical condition that it is known the animal is suffering from [reg 19(4)].

See also Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 71(1).

It is an offence to sell a dog or cat without providing the above information to the purchaser.

Maximum Penalty: fine of up to $5 000

Expiation fee: $315.

Advertising the sale of a dog or cat

When advertising the sale of a dog or cat, the seller must ensure that the advertisement contains all of the following information (where applicable):

  • The name and phone number of the seller [reg 19(6)];
  • The name and phone number of each breeder, and if they are registered, their identification number [reg 19(7)].

See also Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 71(2).

It is an offence to advertise to sell a dog or cat contrary to these provisions.

Maximum Penalty: fine of up to $5 000

Expiation fee: $315.

A registered breeder is not required to provide the above information in selling a dog or cat, or advertising to sell a dog or cat, in circumstances where they are selling the animal to another registered breeder [see Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 71(3); Dog and Cat Management Regulations 2017 (SA) reg 19(8)(a)(i)].

Cruelty to animals

The Animal Welfare Act 1985 (SA) prohibits cruelty to all animals [s 13]. An animal is defined as a member of any species of the sub-phylum vertebrata, other than human beings and fish [s 3].

Ill treatment of animals is prohibited and a maximum penalty of $20 000 or a term of up to 2 years of imprisonment applies. If a person intends or is reckless about whether their ill treatment causes serious harm to, or the death of an animal, the maximum penalty is a fine of up to $50 000 or a term of up to 4 years imprisonment.

Ill treatment occurs where:

  • a person intentionally, unreasonably or recklessly causes an animal unnecessary harm
  • an owner fails to provide an animal with appropriate and adequate food, water, living conditions or exercise
  • an owner fails to take reasonable steps to alleviate any harm suffered by the animal
  • an owner abandons an animal
  • an owner neglects an animal so as to cause it harm
  • an owner uses an animal in an organised animal fight
  • an owner causes an animal to be killed or hunted by another animal
  • an owner kills an animal in a manner that causes the animal unnecessary pain
  • an owner carries out a medical or surgical procedure on an animal in contravention of the Animal Welfare Regulations 2012 (SA) or ill treats an animal in any other manner prescribed by those regulations.

For a comprehensive summary of the penalties for offences under the Animal Welfare Act 1985 (SA), click here.

Standards for the breeding and trading of companion animals

From August 2017 the treatment of animals bred as pets ('companion animals') has been regulated by the South Australian Standards and Guidelines for Breeding and Trading Companion Animals [see the Animal Welfare Regulations 2012 (SA) Schedule 2, item 1].

The definition of companion animals includes, but is not limited to, dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice, birds, amphibians and reptiles.

The Standards and Guidelines help to make clear the duties of breeders and traders under the Animal Welfare Act 1985 (SA).

The Standards are the minimum requirement set by law for the treatment of animals by breeders, pet shop owners and other traders in animals. A breach of the Standards may result in an expiation notice or prosecution under the Animal Welfare Regulations 2012 (SA) or, in more serious cases, a prosecution under the Animal Welfare Act 1985 (SA).

The Guidelines are not legally enforceable but provide guidance/direction to/on the requirements of the Standards and are intended to provide assistance in meeting these obligations.

There are several limits to the application of the Standards and Guidelines including animals that are given away. Also excluded from the application of the Standards and Guidelines are stray dogs, cats and litters of kittens or puppies ‘adopted’ or taken care of by a person who finds them on their property and does not subsequently breed from them.

    Animals  :  Last Revised: Thu Jul 26th 2018
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