Restricted breed dogs
Parliamentary Inquiry into restricted breed dog legislation
A Parliamentary Inquiry into restricted breed dog legislation has begun, and will return its report no later than 31 March 2016. The Victorian Parliament's Economy and Infrastructure Committee will be considering whether the current laws encourage responsible dog ownership and protect both the community and the environment. In addition to canvassing community concerns about the management of dangerous dogs, the inquiry will inform proposed changes to the Domestic Animals Act 1994 with regards to the current moratorium on the destruction of restricted breed dogs.
The Committee invites submissions from individuals, groups or organisations with an interest in this important issue. All submissions are public documents unless confidentiality is requested and granted by the Committee. Closing date for submissions: 10 July 2015.
For information on making a submission please visit: http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/eic/article/2626
For further information please visit www.parliament.vic.gov.au/eic or phone the Committee Secretariat on (03) 8682 2817.
Moratorium on euthanasia
Legislation changes have imposed a moratorium on the destruction of restricted breed dogs, while the Parliamentary Inquiry into the effectiveness of current legislative arrangements is underway.
Councils will be required to hold restricted breed dogs, rather than euthanising them, until 30 September 2016 (or until the recommendations from the Parliamentary Inquiry are implemented– whichever comes first).
The moratorium will ensure that no dog is destroyed solely because of it being a restricted breed dog. This will only affect newly declared restricted breed dogs that cannot be registered under the current law or dogs where council decide to refuse registration because of their breed.
The moratorium will not protect restricted breed dogs from destruction in other cases where destruction powers are provided such as: a dog that has attacked, a dog attacking livestock or a dog destroyed under health grounds.
Restricted breed dog definition
Restricted breed dogs are defined as dogs that fit the Approved Standard for Restricted Breed Dogs in Victoria. These may be pure or cross bred American Pit Bull Terriers (or Pit Bull Terriers), Perro de Presa Canarios (or Presa Canario), Dogo Argentinos, Japanese Tosas, or Fila Brasileiros.
Restricted breed dogs have not attacked a person or animal or displayed signs of aggression, but they are considered a higher risk to community safety than other breeds of dogs.
Restricted breed dog ownership requirements
The only restricted breed dogs that can be kept are those that were in Victoria prior to 1 September 2010 and are registered (as any breed) with the local council prior to 30 September 2011.
Councils across Victoria have the right to seize unregistered restricted breed dogs. Where dogs are deemed by the council to meet the standard, they will be declared as a restricted breed. There is currently a moratorium on euthanasia of restricted breed dogs, and Councils are required to hold restricted breed dogs, rather than euthanising them, until the outcome of the Parliamentary Inquiry into restricted breed dog legislation. Owners have the right to appeal the council's decision through VCAT.
Owners of restricted breed dogs must comply with a range of requirements, relating to housing, microchipping, desexing, and identifying their dogs. Restricted breed dogs must also be muzzled and leashed when being exercised off the property. Click here for full details of ownership requirements for Restricted Breed Dogs.
How to report a suspected unregistered restricted breed dog, or a registered restricted breed dog not being kept according to prescribed requirements
Call the local council or the government hotline (1300 101 080). An authorised officer from the council will investigate.
What to do if you think you have been sold a restricted breed dog
Contact the council and advise them of your concern. It is an offence for a person to sell, give or otherwise transfer the ownership of a restricted breed dog to you unless you are an immediate relative and ownership has been transferred as part of a deceased estate. The only other exception is if the owner surrenders the dog to a council pound or shelter for euthanasia.
You also have rights under consumer affairs legislation if the breed of the dog has been misrepresented. Contact the Consumer Affairs Victoria Helpline on ph 1300 55 81 81.
What to do if your dog has been declared restricted breed
The authorised officer must notify you in writing that your dog has been declared a restricted breed. At this point, you have the right to request from council the reason why your dog has been declared a restricted breed.
You can appeal the declaration that your dog a restricted breed dog by appealing this decision at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal within 14 days of receiving the declaration.
Telephone: 03 9628 9830 or Toll Free 1800 133 055 (Country callers only).
Veterinarian/veterinary nurses and restricted breed dogs
There is no obligation to report to council any dog that you believe to be of a restricted breed. It would be advisable to inform the owner that their dog may be considered to be of a restricted breed and that if they are concerned they should contact their local council for more information.
What happens if a restricted breed dog is involved in a serious or fatal attack?
Owners are subject to criminal offences if their dog kills or endangers the life of someone. Owners can be jailed for up to 10 years if their dog kills someone, or for up to 5 years if their dog endangers someone's life. 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.