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Dog attacks

Any dog can attack people or other animals.

All dogs have a natural instinct to chase another animal that moves – even the best trained and well socialised ones.

The Companion Animals Act 1998 (the Act) requires that all dogs must be under effective control by means of a chain, cord or leash when in public in order to minimise the chances of an attack occurring, and to protect the welfare of the dog and members of the public.

The Act defines a dog attack as being any dog that rushes at, attacks, bites, harasses or chases any person or animal (other than vermin), whether or not any injury is caused to the person or animal.

If a dog threatens or attacks you or your dog

  • Try and stay calm and separate the dogs without putting yourself or others in danger.
  • Don't put your hands near the faces of the fighting animals as the dogs could bite and injure you.
  • Move to a safe location as soon as possible and report the dog attack to us.

Report the dog attack

If you have been attacked by a dog, or have seen a dog attack another person or animal, you should report it:

Information you'll need

  • Details of the dog attack: date, time, location and description of the attack.
  • Description of the offending dog: breed or type, age, sex (if known), colour and any identifying features.
  • Details of the person attacked: name, age, address and phone number.
  • Details of the animal attacked: description, microchip number (if known), owner's name, address and contact number.
  • Injuries sustained: description of injuries, treatment provided, your doctor's name and address.
  • Details of the veterinary surgeon treating the animal.
  • Name and contact details of any witnesses.
  • Photographic evidence of any injuries sustained.

Our Rangers will then investigate the matter, take statements and gather any other evidence required to assess whether the offending dog is a 'dangerous', 'menacing' or 'nuisance' dog.

We have the authority to impose fines and control requirements after a dog has attacked. We also have the authority to seize a dog if it has attacked a person or animal within 72 hours.

Dog attacks on children

  • Dog attacks on children occur mostly in the yard of their own home or another person's home.
  • Children can be vulnerable targets for a dog attack, even from a dog they know and love.
  • Dogs tend to attack or bite out of fear or an attempt to dominate. Children can unknowingly provoke aggressive responses by inadvertently challenging a dog or intruding into its territory.
  • Most injuries to children are inflicted on the head or face.
  • Always supervise your dog around children.

Teach your children:

  • not to put their face close to a dog's mouth
  • not to hug dogs tightly or tease them
  • not to pat a strange dog, a dog that is tied up, a dog that has been left in a car, a dog that is sleeping, a dog that is eating
  • not to approach a dog without permission from the owner
  • not to squeal or jump around an unfamiliar dog
  • to avoid eye contact with an unfamiliar dog.

How to prevent a dog attack

Aside from attacks on children, most dog attacks on adults and animals occur outside the dog owner's property.

  • Keep your dog securely confined to your property.
  • When outside of your property, ensure your dog is kept on a lead, unless you are at a designated off-leash area.
  • Use designated off-leash areas while keeping your dog under your control.
  • Appropriately socialise your dog before the dog reaches four months old.
  • Do not allow your dog to roam, especially with other dogs.
  • Ensure your dog is well cared for and well fed – bored and hungry dogs go looking for fun and food.
  • Make sure your dog is desexed as it will be less likely to roam.
  • Don’t allow your dog to chase other animals such as birds and native animals for fun.
  • Train your dog to be obedient and socialise them with other animals in a controlled environment.

Dog attacks on farming livestock

Roaming domestic pets and wild dogs (such as dingos and feral dogs) can attack livestock on farms. In Eurobodalla, these kinds of attacks are common and tend to spike in spring and summer.

Dog attacks on farms and livestock can:

  • kill and injure livestock
  • reduce farm productivity
  • cost farmers thousands of dollars a year in lost income
  • significantly impact a farmer’s livelihood and wellbeing.

Legal implications

  • It is an offence under the Companion Animals Act 1998 for a dog to be in a public place and not under the proper control of its owner.
  • The owner of a dog that attacks livestock is liable for veterinary treatment costs, and open to legal action to recover the cost of injured or killed livestock.
  • Under section 22 of the Animal Companion Act 1998, a farmer or their employee may lawfully seize and detain a dog on a property if they reasonably believe the dog may injure or kill livestock being farmed on that property. This includes injuring or destroying the dog in order to prevent the attack and loss of stock.

More information

Contact us

Rangers are on duty seven days a week from 7.30am to 4.30pm (excluding Christmas Day and public holidays).

During business hours, contact our Rangers on:

After hours emergencies

Outside of business hours, Rangers are available for emergency matters only, including serious dog attacks.

For all after hours emergencies, phone:

  • T: 02 4474 1000