Section 33 Companion Animals Act 1998 | Definition of Dangerous Dog


Section 33 of the Companion Animals Act 1998 contains the definition of ‘dangerous dog’ and is extracted below.

It is important to be aware that a ‘dangerous dog’ is not necessarily a dog that is dangerous.

It is a dog that has, without provocation, attacked, killed, repeatedly threatened to attack, displayed unreasonable aggression or even repeatedly chased a person or animal; other than vermin.

It even includes any dog kept for hunting – regardless of whether or not that dog is aggressive!

The definition is extremely broad and it can be difficult to show that your dog is not ‘dangerous’; especially if you were not present during the incident when your dog was alleged to have displayed such behaviour.

Sydney Criminal Lawyers® is Australia’s most experienced and successful firm in dealing with dangerous dog matters.

If you have received a ‘Notice of Intention to Declare Dog Dangerous’, we can write a ‘letter of objection’ to Council on your behalf requesting that they refrain from declaring your dog dangerous provided that you enter ‘written undertakings’; which are promises to act in a certain way eg always have your dog leashed when in public, undertake a course of behavioural training etc.

If you receive a ‘Dangerous Dog Declaration’, we can appeal that declaration to the Local Court and seek to negotiate ‘control orders’ in its place; which are orders similar to ‘undertakings’ but are endorsed by the court.

We believe that ‘dangerous dog declarations’ are inhumane, particularly the requirement that your dog must always remain in an approved enclosure unless he opr she is muzzled. What type of life is that for your dog?

We also believe that the penalties for failing to comply with dangerous dog obligations are too harsh.

If a dangerous dog ‘attacks’ (including ‘rushing at’ a person or animal), it will be seized and likely destroyed and the owner will be subjected to a life-long ban on owning any other dog and even the possibility of a prison sentence.

Our dangerous dog lawyers will use their vast experience:

  • Persuade Council not to go ahead with the dangerous dog declaration, or if the declaration has already been made
  • Persuade Council to revoke the declaration upon agreement of ‘Control Orders’, or if Council refuses
  • Persuade the Local Court to revoke the declaration and impose ‘Control Orders’ instead if necessary.

For expert advice and outstanding representation from Australia’s leading dangerous dog lawyers, call Sydney Criminal Lawyers® today on (02) 9261 8881.

The Legislation

33 Meaning of “dangerous”

(1) For the purposes of this Division, a dog is “dangerous” if it:
(a) has, without provocation, attacked or killed a person or animal (other than vermin), or
(b) has, without provocation, repeatedly threatened to attack or repeatedly chased a person or animal (other than vermin), or
(c) has displayed unreasonable aggression towards a person or animal (other than vermin), or
(d) is kept or used for the purposes of hunting.

(2) A dog is not, for the purposes of subsection (1) (d), to be regarded as being kept or used for the purposes of hunting if it is used only to locate, flush, point or retrieve birds or vermin. “Vermin” for the purposes of this subsection includes small pest animals only (such as rodents).

If a hunting dog is declared to be a dangerous dog, the declaration does not necessarily mean that the dog cannot be used for the purposes of lawful hunting–see section 51 (3).