Restricted breed dogs
Parliamentary Inquiry into Restricted Breed Dog legislation
The Parliamentary Inquiry into restricted breed dog legislation was established in 2015. The Economy and Infrastructure Committee undertook a detailed investigation into the management of different breeds of dog, and into dog attacks, their causes and prevention strategies. The Inquiry received 502 written submissions and heard from 16 organisations and individuals at public hearings. The Inquiry's report was published in March 2016 and contained 31 recommendations.
The government's response to the Inquiry's report has now been tabled in Parliament. It sets out the measures the government proposes to introduce to support regulatory reform. The government accepts the need to change Victoria's restricted breed dog legislation.
The government's response recognises the need for balance between supporting the benefits of dog ownership and protecting the community from dangerous dogs and irresponsible dog owners.
The government agrees or agrees in principle with 25 of the Inquiry's recommendation, including its recommendation that the Domestic Animals Act 1994 (Act) be amended to allow the registration of restricted breed dogs, while retaining all other restrictions related to restricted breed dogs.
The proposed amendment to the Act to allow the registration of restricted breed dogs will not change any of the strict controls applying to restricted breed dogs currently in place. Restricted breed dogs will still be required to:
- be de-sexed;
- kept on a leash and muzzled at all times when in public;
- securely confined to their owners back yard; and
- wear a red and yellow striped collar at all times.
Properties containing a restricted breed dog must display a specific turquoise warning sign at the entrance to the property indicating that a restricted breed dog is housed on the premises.
Bans on breeding, adopting or transferring the ownership of restricted breed dogs will also remain in place.
The government will amend the Act in 2017 to allow the registration of restricted breed dogs in Victoria. The current moratorium on the requirement to euthanse restricted breed dogs will remain in place until the required legislative amendment is made.
As well as considering legislative requirements for restricted breed dogs, the Inquiry made a number of recommendations about responsible pet ownership, dangerous dogs and greyhounds.
The recommendations on greyhounds will be considered as part of the separate greyhound welfare reform work that is currently underway. The government will work towards implementing accepted recommendations as soon as possible. However, some of them will take time.
A full copy of the Parliamentary Inquiry report can be accessed at Parliament Victoria.
Fact sheet and report
Moratorium on euthanasia
There is currently a moratorium on euthanising restricted breed dogs. The proposed legislative amendment to allow registration of restricted breed dogs will be implemented before the moratorium expires
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.