Dog spray, sometimes known as dog mace, is sold as a deterrent against dog attacks. The spray is contained in canisters, and when released acts as an irritant to dogs. Dog mace works in the event of a dog attack in much in the same way that pepper spray works on humans.
Although it may be intended for use on animals and not people, dog mace in Australia is still considered a dangerous article, and if you are found carrying it you could be liable for criminal charges.
What does the law say about mace in NSW?
The legislation surrounding carrying dog mace in Australia varies from state to state. In some states it is legal to carry mace for self-defence, but in NSW it is illegal to carry mace except in certain circumstances. If you are found carrying dog mace in NSW without a reasonable excuse, you could be arrested and charged with a criminal offence.
Dog mace is considered a dangerous article under the Crimes Act 1900 Section 93FB. This section deals with the possession of dangerous items other than firearms, and includes anything that can discharge an irritant gas, liquid or chemical along with any other substance that is capable of causing bodily harm. Other dangerous items under this section include explosive devices or a detonator, or a fuse capable of being used as a detonator.
Carrying any of the above prohibited items in a public place without a reasonable excuse can lead to a jail sentence of up to two years, or another penalty such as a fine, community service or a good behaviour bond.
What is a reasonable excuse to carry dog mace in Australia?
Under the Crimes Act, there are a number of factors that contribute to whether you are seen to have had a reasonable excuse to be carrying the dangerous article on your person. These factors provide a framework to help the magistrate or judge decide whether you were legitimately planning to use the article for self-defence.
The factors that the judge will take into consideration when determining the outcome of your case include the nature of the perceived threat at the time the dog mace was found. A crowded shopping centre in the middle of the day carries a lower perceived threat than a lonely alleyway late at night, for example.
If you are carrying the dog mace because you have previously been attacked by a dog or person, it will probably be perceived as more reasonable for you to carry dog mace than someone who has never been attacked. This is especially the case if you are in the same area or under the same set of circumstances as when you were previously attacked. Similarly, if you work with dogs regularly, it may be considered that you have more justification to have dog mace on your person than someone who doesn’t work with dogs.
The judge will also take into consideration your personal history and whether you have previously used a dangerous item in an assault case, or if you have a history of violence.
If you are facing charges of carrying dog mace in Australia it is advisable to seek help from a lawyer who is experienced in defending similar offences. The outcome of cases of carrying dangerous articles can vary considerably depending on circumstances, so it is best to talk to a lawyer to find out the best defence for your individual situation.