Companion Animals Act and Nuisance Animals

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Small dog barking

Australia is a nation of dog lovers and owning a dog can be extremely enjoyable and rewarding and is a part of life for many families.

The household pet is often like another member of the family, but what happens when neighbours and other members of the community don’t love your pet as much as you do?

Although it can be heartbreaking to have your beloved dog labelled a nuisance dog, you can do something to prevent your animal having to live under harsh restrictions if you act quickly.

Often the first indicator that you will have that your dog is about to be declared a nuisance dog is when you receive a letter of intention in the mail.

According to the law, councils are required to issue you with written notification if they intend to declare your dog a nuisance animal.

This letter must contain details as to the exact nature of the behaviour so that you are aware of the steps you need to take to rectify the situation.

The notice is also required to contain information about how to appeal the order, and the time frame during which you can appeal.

What is a nuisance dog order?

According to the Companion Animals Act 1998, a nuisance dog order can be given to the owner of a dog that is considered to be a ‘nuisance’ through one or more of the following behaviours:

  • Persistent noise through barking or other means in a way that reasonably interferes with the peace or comfort of those living nearby.
  • Repeatedly chasing or running at people or vehicles other than vermin.
  • Being repeatedly at large.
  • Defecating regularly on property other than the property on which it is kept.
  • Causing substantial damage to property other than the property on which it is kept.

A nuisance dog order is an order that is issued by your local council and identifies the behaviour and sets out certain restrictions which you and your animal will be required to comply with.

A nuisance dog order is generally valid for six months after it is issued.

Nuisance dog orders are generally issued after complaints are made to the local council about a specific animal, often by neighbours.

The specific restrictions listed on your nuisance dog order will depend largely on the specific behaviour you are required to restrict.

Some restrictions may include preventing your dog from barking, keeping it on your property and keeping it under controls so that it doesn’t defecate on or damage other property.

What happens if I don’t comply with a nuisance dog order?

If you don’t comply with the terms of a nuisance dog order you may be required to pay fines of $800 for the first breach, and up to $1,650 for second and subsequent breaches. It is important that you understand the terms of any nuisance dog orders that you receive and take measures to comply with them to avoid further penalties.

Can I appeal a nuisance dog order?

You can appeal a nuisance dog order in writing within seven days of receiving the notice.

Once your appeal is received, the council is required to consider your grounds for appeal and investigate further if necessary.

Unfortunately nuisance dog orders are not always reasonable and can be brought on by complaints from malicious neighbours or other people with a personal grievance.

If you have any reason to believe that a nuisance dog order is not appropriate, or it is too harsh, it is a good idea to appeal.

The council will use a number of different methods of investigation to determine whether to uphold a nuisance dog order, including visiting your premises and speaking to neighbours and other people in close proximity.

It is a good idea to seek legal advice if you plan to appeal a nuisance dog order, as presenting a strong case in your appeal can help increase your chances of success.

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Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist with 25 years of experience as a Criminal Defence Lawyer. He is the Principal of Sydney Criminal Lawyers®.

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