Dog attack means "an action of a dog that involves the dog rushing at, biting, chasing, menacing or worrying a person or another animal and, in so doing, the dog actually touches the person or other animal or the clothing or other property in the immediate possession or under the immediate control of the person, whether or not any injury or damage occurs to the person, animal or property".
Dog menace means "an action that creates a reasonable apprehension in a person that the dog is likely to attack the person, another person or an animal owned or in the control of the first-mentioned person and includes a reasonable apprehension that the dog may escape or be released from restraint to attack a person or the animal".
Dog attacks can occur when an owner has not provided adequate fencing, control or socialisation for their dogs. Dogs are living creatures and are sensitive to changes in their surroundings - even the most docile dog can bite while playing, feeling under threat or in a moment of anxiety.
Owners have a high level of responsibility to ensure their dogs are effectively contained, have adequate fencing and are under effective control when in a public place. This means being on a lead and being walked by a person of responsible age. Council will take action against owners who disregard their responsibility. These actions may include severe financial penalties or Court action against a dog owner.
Avoiding an attack
Never take for granted that a dog will not bite. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you are being threatened by a dog, the following tips may prevent you being bitten.
- STOP and stand absolutely still. This is probably one of the hardest things to do, particularly as every muscle in your body is telling you to run. But if you can, you just may have averted a serious problem.
- DO NOT make eye contact with the dog. Make sure you can still see the dog with your peripheral vision.
- Back away very slowly, without running, yelling, waving your arms or kicking at the dog.
- Increase the distance between you and the dog.
There may be times when a dog will attack without warning. If a dog knocks you to the ground, lie in the fetal position with your arms covering your face and remain still.
When Council receives a complaint about a dog attack, the incident is thoroughly investigated and if the attack is substantiated, the dog owner can face possible warnings, restrictions placed on their dog's registration and/or specific conditions placed on their license, infringement notices or prosecution in Court.
Actions taken against a dog owner depend on the specific circumstances involved in the attack. In a severe attack Council can cancel a dog's registration, requiring it to be removed from the municipality, or seek a Court order to have the dog destroyed.