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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.

Dog attacks  :  Last Revised: Tue Jun 27th 2017
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.