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Dangerous dogs FAQs

Why is a dog declared a dangerous dog?

If a dog has caused a serious injury to a person or animal the council may declare the dog to be dangerous dog.

However, if the council believes that a dog is likely to cause serious injury to a person or another animal, it does not have to wait for an attack or serious injury to occur and may immediately declare the dog to be a dangerous dog.

What happens after a dog is declared a dangerous dog?

When a dog has been declared a dangerous dog, the owner or person in charge has to meet stronger control provisions.

Effective control of a dangerous dog

The owner or person in charge of a dangerous dog must ensure, when the dog is in a public place, that the dog is:

  • muzzled so as to be unable to bite a person or animal; and
  • held on a lead that is not more than two metres long, and which is sufficient to control and restrain the dog; and
  • under the control of a person at least 18 years of age; and
  • wearing an approved collar at all times.

Dangerous dog enclosures

When not under the control of a person, a dangerous dog must be kept in an enclosure that meets certain requirements. Owners of dangerous dogs should refer to the Dog Control (Regulations) 2010 for the full requirements. These regulations commenced on 1 July 2010.

The childproof enclosure must be a full enclosure and:

  • have a minimum height of 1.8 metres and minimum width of 1.8 metres
  • have a floor area of at least 10 square metres for each dog in the enclosure
  • have walls, roof and door or gate made of brick, timber, concrete, iron or mesh, or a combination of those materials, of sufficient strength and durability to prevent the escape of a dog
  • have a sufficient weatherproof sleeping area for each dog in the enclosure
  • have a sealed, graded concrete floor
  • be situated so as not to require a person to pass through it to gain access to other parts of the property
  • if fitted with a door or gate, be fitted with a self-closing and self-latching mechanism for the gate, be locked from the outside when a dog is inside the enclosure, and have a clearly legible sign saying “Dangerous Dog” displayed on the door or gate, and
  • be sufficient to prevent any dog in it from escaping.

If the walls, roof or gate of the enclosure are made of mesh, that mesh must be chain mesh of at least 3.15 mm gauge with a maximum spacing of 50 mm, or weldmesh of at least 4 mm gauge with a maximum spacing of 50 mm.

Dangerous dog signs must also be erected at each entrance to the property. The signs must be of an approved type, including specific colours, size and made of metal.

The council may detain the dog until a suitable enclosure has been built and the dog owner will be responsible for the costs of holding the dog. If a suitable enclosure is not built, the council may destroy the dog and recover all costs from the owner.

The Animal Control Officer at your local council can advise on where approved collars and signs can be obtained.

De-sexing and microchipping of dangerous dogs

Once declared as dangerous, a dog must be de-sexed and microchipped within 28 days. The owner of the dangerous dog is responsible for the de-sexing and microchipping costs.

The owner of a dangerous dog must ensure that the microchip is not removed from the dog without approval. Failure to ensure this is an offence punishable by a fine of up to $2,600.

Subsequent attacks by a dangerous dog

If a dangerous dog subsequently attacks a person or animal, the owner is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine of up to $6,000 and/or up to 12 months imprisonment.

A person convicted or found guilty in relation to a subsequent dog attack will also be automatically banned from owning or being in charge of any dog for a period of five years. Breaking a five year ban can lead to a fine of up to $3,900.

Can I buy a dangerous dog?

A person who wishes to acquire a dog declared to be a dangerous dog must apply to their council for approval to have ownership transferred to them.

All dogs declared to be a dangerous dog in another State will be recognised as a dangerous dog in Tasmania and approval will be required before they can be imported.

Can I sell or give away a dangerous dog? What happens if my dangerous dog strays or is lost?

If a dangerous dog goes missing, strays or dies, or is lost the owner, or a person on behalf of the owner, must notify the council as soon as possible. Failure to notify the council may incur a penalty of up to $2,600.

A dangerous dog may only be sold after the buyer has received prior approval from their council. Once the council has approved the transfer the seller must notify their council within 24 hours of completion of the sale. Failure to notify the council may incur a penalty of up to $2,600.

A dangerous dog must not be allowed to stray or be abandoned. It is also an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 1993 to abandon an animal. Under that Act abandonment of an animal is an offence punishable by a fine of up to $13,000 dollars and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months.

Existing dangerous dogs

A dog that has already been declared a dangerous dog before the new legislation starts must be de-sexed within 28 days.

Owners of existing dangerous dogs will be contacted by councils before the new legislation becomes effective and will have ample time in which to meet the new requirements if their dog has not already been de-sexed.

The new housing requirements will also apply to existing dangerous dogs. Again, owners will be contacted by councils before the new legislation becomes effective.

While the council can require an approved enclosure to be built within 28 days, owners will have had advance warning of the new requirements and therefore additional time in which to have the enclosure built. The council may extend the 28 day deadline if satisfied that adequate progress is being made.

However, if the new housing enclosure is not built on time, or adequate progress is not being made, the council may detain the dog and not return it until the approved enclosure has been completed.

However, if an approved enclosure is not ultimately provided the council may destroy the dog. All costs of detention and destruction may be recovered from the owner.

This information is also available to download as a PDF. Download the Dog Control Act 2000 Information Sheet on Dangerous and Restricted Breed Dogs (PDF, 184KB).

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