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With over 1 million additional dogs welcomed into Australian households from 2019-2021, including during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also seeing a rise in the number of dog-related attacks. If your dog attacks someone, you may be legally liable for any injuries or damages caused by your dog’s actions.

Legal Consequences of Your Dog’s Aggressive Behaviour

If your dog 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, you may be guilty of an offence and could potentially face civil and criminal actions. You may be required to compensate the victim for their medical expenses, pain, suffering, and other damages resulting from the attack. Criminal liability could arise if it’s determined that you were negligent in controlling your dog and knowingly allowed it to be in a situation where an attack could occur.

Preventive Measures for Responsible Dog Ownership

As a dog owner you are obligated to take reasonable precautions to prevent your dog from attacking or causing harm to others, such as having your dog on a leash.

To mitigate legal liability, it’s imperative to ensure that your dog is properly supervised and controlled in public spaces. Remember to keep your dog on a leash and use a muzzle it if it’s deemed a dangerous breed or has shown aggressive behaviour in the past. Additionally, having proper training and socialising your dog can help prevent aggressive tendencies.

In an attempt to protect yourself from exposure you may take out a home and contents insurance policy covering dog owners for liability in the events of an attack. You should talk to your insurance provider to check you are covered.

Seeking Legal Guidance After a Dog Attack

If your dog has attacked someone, or you or your dog has been the victim of an attack, speak with us about how to we can help you navigate the legal landscape, including compensation.

Contact our team on (02) 6621 2481 or email us via our website


Sources: NSW Government Legislation, NSW Office of Local Government and ABC.