skip to content

Refine results

Search by

Search by Algolia
Law Handbook banner image

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.

Lost and wandering dogs  :  Last Revised: Thu Jul 26th 2018
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.