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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 If permission is not given, or is given and withdrawn, the animal's presence may be a trespass and can be dealt with in the same way as trespass of an object, see trespassers.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 September 2020

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.
Animals  :  Last Revised: Mon Sep 7th 2020
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.