Dog attacks FAQs
How do I report a dog attack?
To report an attack on a person or animal/pet call your local council. Alternatively you can call the Dangerous Dogs Hotline on 131 186. This number will connect you to the department's Customer Service Centre. When prompted, select option 1 – to report an animal offence including a dangerous dog.
What is the Dangerous Dogs Hotline?
The Dangerous Dogs Hotline gives the community an additional way of reporting dangerous dogs.
The hotline operates between 8am and 6pm seven days a week and helps ensure local councils are alerted to reports of dangerous dogs.
All reports are recorded and information is forwarded to the relevant local council.
It is the Victorian Government's expectation that all dangerous dog reports received by local councils will be promptly investigated. Caller information will be provided to councils where consent to do so is obtained by the hotline operators. If a caller's details are provided, it is expected local councils will follow up with the resident to inform them of the outcome.
How can dog attacks be prevented?
What are the penalties for a dog attack?
If your dog attacks a person or animal you may be liable for thousands of dollars in fines and your dog may be seized and euthanased. You may also have to pay compensation for any damage caused by your dog as ordered by the court.
If you set your dog to deliberately attack a person or animal you can be sentenced to a maximum of 6 months in prison.
If your dog is already a declared dangerous dog, a declared menacing dog, a trained attack or guard dog or fits the restricted breed dog standard (registered or unregistered restricted breed dog) and attacks a person endangering their life or causing death, you may be charged under the Crimes Act and face possible imprisonment of 5 or 10 years jail.
Note: where the owner of a dog is under the age of 18 years, the parent or guardian of that owner will be deemed the legal owner of the dog and subject to any penalties/prosecutions.
If my dog attacks a person/an animal will it be euthanased?
An authorised officer of council may immediately destroy a dog, if the officer believes that the dog is behaving in a manner that could result in the dog causing serious injury or death to a person or other animal.
A court or council can order destruction of the dog if its owner or person in charge at the time is found guilty of the attack.
A dog at large near livestock can be destroyed by the landowner or their agent.
How do I stop my dog from being euthanased?
You should seek legal advice to ensure that the processes in the Domestic Animals Act 1994 are being complied with by the council.
Can DNA be used to prove my dog was/was not involved in an attack?
Yes. Recent amendments to the Domestic Animals Act 1994, provide suitably qualified (s74B) authorised officers with the power to take non-invasive DNA samples from dogs suspected of being involved in an attack (section 74C of the Domestic Animals Act 1994). Samples can then be sent to any of the following laboratories for analysis:
(a) Genetic Technologies Ltd [ABN 17009212328]; and
(b) Animal Solutions Pty Ltd [ABN 64116195352]; and
(c) Orivet Genetic Pet Care Pty Ltd [ACN 166869503].
Owners are entitled to also obtain a DNA sample and they may send samples to any laboratory of their choice.
My neighbour's dog tries to jump the fence and attack me
This is a menacing dog offence. Contact your local council, who may declare the dog as menacing and review the confinement of the dog and order the owner to make better arrangements for its confinement.
There is a dog that tries to attack me when I walk down the road
This is a menacing dog offence. Contact your local council, who may declare the dog as a menacing dog with restrictions applied to confine it properly and to be leashed and muzzled in public in future.
Further offences can lead to the dog being declared as dangerous with the more severe restrictions applied.
I have been chased by a dog or menaced by a dog
If a dog bites you (not seriously), chases you, menaces or rushes at you aggressively (approaches within 3 metres displaying aggression, snarling, growling or raised hackles) this is a menacing offence that should be reported to the local council for investigation. Attempt to identify the owner by photograph or car registration number or observing where they reside.
I know of a dog that has been attacked
- By a person: report this to the RSPCA inspectorate. Telephone 03 9224 2222 for advice.
- By an animal (not another dog). Report this to the RSPCA inspectorate. Telephone 03 9224 2222 for advice if the animal is injured or if there are circumstances where the welfare of the dog should be protected or is at risk.
I have made repeated complaints to my council about a dangerous or attacking dog, but they have taken no action. Who can I complain to?
The Victorian Ombudsman has power to investigate such matters.
Telephone: 03 9613 6222 (international callers 0011 + 61 + 3 + phone number)
Toll Free: 1800 806 314 (regional only)
TTY via the National Relay Service
(a phone solution for people who are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment) on 133 677 or 1300 555 727
Fax: 9614 0246
Interpreter service: via telephone 131 450 or on-site 1300 655 082
I am worried my dog might attack someone, what can I do?
If your dog is displaying aggressive behaviour, you must seek professional advice as soon as possible. You should have your dog checked by a vet for any health problems that might be contributing to the aggression and you should also contact an animal behaviouralist or dog trainer. For contact details, ask your vet, local council, animal shelter or dog club/ association for advice, or look under "Dog training" in the Yellow Pages.
Our website also includes information on obedience training (i.e. contacts and 'approved dog training organisations').
Obviously if you are concerned about people's safety around your dog, keep your dog securely confined to your property and don't allow visitors to interact with your dog until you have resolved the aggression problem.