When can a dog be seized?
- it is necessary to seize the dog to prevent or stop the dog attacking, harassing or chasing a person or animal or bird owned by a person
- the dog is unduly dangerous
- the person who owns or is responsible for the dog has contravened an order
- the person who owns or is responsible for the dog is subject to a Prohibition Order, an order prohibiting the person from acquiring or becoming responsible for a dog
- it is necessary to detain the dog so as to carry out a destruction order.
Notice of the seizure must be given to the owner or person responsible for the dog (if known) or exhibited on the local council or police station notice board for at least 72 hours (giving a description of the dog, the day and time it was seized, and contact details of a person or body to whom further enquiries can be made) [ss 61(2) and (3)].
If the dog is seized because it is necessary to prevent the dog from attacking, harassing or chasing a person or animal or bird owned by a person or because it is unduly dangerous, the local council must give notice of an intention to make or apply for an order in relation to the dog within seven days, or return the dog to the owner or person responsible for it [s 61(4)].
A seized dog may be microchipped and desexed, with the cost recoverable from the owner as a debt [s 64B]. A person is not entitled to the return of a dog unless they prove their ownership or responsibility for the dog and pay all outstanding fees and charges owing in relation to the dog’s seizure and detention and otherwise, and register the dog (if unregistered) [s 64C]. Even if a dog is returned, the fees and charges owing in relation to the dog’s seizure and detention can still be recovered against the owner as a debt [s 64E].
When can a dog be destroyed?
A dog that has been seized for wandering at large may be destroyed or otherwise disposed of (e.g. by sale) where [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 62(1)]:
- the dog is not claimed within 72 hours of notice being given of its seizure
- the registered owner declines to take possession
- money in relation to the dog is not paid within seven days after request for payment
Dogs found wandering at large but that are properly identified need not be subjected to this process as they can be quickly returned to their owners.
Dogs that cannot be seized due to their savagery or repeated evasion of seizure [s 60(2)] or that are so injured or diseased that it is impractical to maintain them may be destroyed [s 62(3)]. However, in the latter case, the dog cannot be destroyed unless a veterinary surgeon or stock inspector have given written approval or urgent action is required.
A person who destroys a dog must take reasonable steps to inform the owner and must notify the local council [s 64D].
Ownership of a dog destroyed under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) is taken to have vested in the operator of the facility at which the dog was detained immediately beforehand, and no compensation is payable to the previous owner for the dog’s destruction [s 64F]. In fact, the operator of the facility at which the dog was detained may recover some costs from the owner for the dog’s seizure, detention and destruction [s 64E].
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