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The Government has introduced these controls in response to widespread community concern about dog attacks.
The effects of dog attacks are compounded when the dog is of a breed that is predisposed to aggressive behaviour and has physical traits that make the effects of an attack more severe.
These attacks can result in horrific injuries which leave the victims with not only physical, but also emotional scars. In extreme cases dog attacks can result in the death of the victim.
The Government is therefore committed to increasing dog controls so that owners can be held accountable for the proper control of their dogs.
Dogs of a breed which have been banned from importation into Australia may be declared restricted breed dogs. Of the breeds banned from importation only the American pit bull terrier or pit bull terrier is understood to exist in Tasmania.
These breeds have already been recognised as a threat to public safety when they were banned from importation into Australia over 15 years ago.
Restricted breed dogs do not include cross breeds.
Dogs will be assessed on the basis of approved guidelines (PDF, 801KB) which will include key characteristics of dog breeds such as height, weight, coat, colouration, tail carriage, and facial and body features.
Council officers will be able to declare a dog as a restricted breed dog.
The owner of a dog declared a restricted breed dog will have to have the dog de-sexed and microchipped within 28 days of its declaration. The owner must provide the council with a veterinary surgeon’s certificate, certifying that the dog has been de-sexed and/or implanted with a microchip, within seven days of the operation. Failure to do so may result in a fine of up to $1,300.
When a restricted breed dog is in a public place, the owner will have to ensure that the dog:
Once a restricted breed dog has been microchipped the owner 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.
Failure to meet any of these requirements may incur a penalty of up to $2,600.
If your restricted breed dog attacks or bites any person or animal, as owner you will be guilty of an offence which will be punishable by a fine of up to $3,900, or imprisonment for up to one month, or both. Your council may also declare the dog to be a dangerous dog and stronger enclosure and control requirements will then have to be met.
When a restricted breed dog is not in a public place, the owner must ensure that approved restricted breed dog warning signs are displayed at every entrance to the premises on which the dog is kept. The signs must be specific colours, size and made of metal. Failure to do so may incur a fine of up to $1,300.
A restricted breed dog will also be required to wear an approved collar at all times. An approved collar has distinctive markings and is available through councils.
A person will not be allowed to own, keep or allow to be kept on any premises more than two restricted breed dogs over the age of six months. A person will be allowed to keep a dog that was not a restricted breed dog immediately before the legislation becomes effective. However, other controls on the number of dogs that are allowed to be kept on a premises still have effect.
A person who wishes to acquire a restricted breed dog must apply to their council for approval to have ownership transferred to them.
All dogs declared to be a restricted breed dog in another State will be recognised as a restricted breed dog in Tasmania and approval will be required before they can be imported.
If a restricted breed 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 restricted breed 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 restricted breed 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 and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months.
While pit bull terriers have been banned from importation into Australia for over 15 years, there is a remnant population built up from dogs imported before the ban.
There are also many cross-breed dogs that have many similarities to a pit bull terrier, but cross-breed dogs will not be declared a restricted breed dog.
If your dog has been declared a restricted breed dog you may appeal against the declaration to the Magistrates Court (Administrative Appeals Division). An appeal must be made within 28 days of the service of notice of the declaration.
However, the onus will be on you to prove that the dog is not a restricted breed dog.
If an appeal is turned down by the court you must ensure that the dog is de-sexed and microchipped within seven days of the court order.
The Council will record the fact that the dog is a restricted breed dog on the dog register.
A restricted breed dog is a dog that, because of its breed characteristics, is pre-disposed to aggressive behaviour. It also has physical traits that can make the effects of any attack more severe and even life threatening.
A dangerous dog is a dog that has actually attacked a person or animal or which, in the opinion of a council, is likely to cause serious injury to a person or another animal.
A restricted breed dog can become a dangerous dog if it causes serious injury to a person or animal or if a council believes that it is likely to cause serious injury to a person or another animal.
The owner or person in charge of the dog will then have to meet stronger control provisions, including the erection of an approved housing enclosure.
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) here.