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Norman Waterhouse

Proposed legislation toughens penalties for dog attacks

In a move to enhance public safety and increase responsible pet ownership, several amendments to the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (DCMA) have recently been proposed, including substantial increases to fines for dog owners whose pets are involved in attacks.

Dog Attacks

Under the proposed reforms, owners whose dogs attack causing serious injury or death to a person or animal could face fines of up to $25,000, marking a significant increase from the current penalty of $2,500. Moreover, for dogs already subjected to dangerous dog orders, fines could skyrocket to $50,000 – a notable jump from the existing $10,000 fine.

In a bid to deter irresponsible behaviour, owners found to deliberately encourage their pet to attack or harass a person or animal could potentially serve four years of jail time or be subject to a fine of $100,000. This proposed legislation aims to establish robust deterrents against violent dog attacks, compelling owners to take care in managing their pets.

All other fines and expiations for dog attacks will be increased under the changes, which were open to the public for consultation through to mid-June 2024.

Breeding Regulations

The DCMA reforms include a tough breeder licensing scheme, imposing a limit of 50 female animals per breeding program and instituting comprehensive licensing and assessment systems for breeders. Breeding without a license could incur fines of up to $10,000, reflecting a concerted effort to clamp down on puppy farms and improve animal welfare standards. This change would bring South Australia in line with Victoria as the strictest jurisdiction for breeding programs in the nation.

Moreover, the reforms advocate for limitations on female dogs, restricting them to a maximum of five litters, with mandatory reporting of each litter introduced. These measures would ensure responsible breeding practices and mitigate animal exploitation.

Council Authority

The proposed changes give Councils greater authority in dog management, enabling them to issue control orders on animals found continually wandering in their districts. Violations of such orders could result in penalties of a fine of up to $2,500 per occurrence.

Should you wish to discuss any of the matters raised in this article, or require specific advice as to any aspect of these proposed reforms, please contact Paul Kelly on +61 8 8210 1248 or, Dale Mazzachi on +61 8 8210 1223 or or Michael Woon on +61 8 8210 1249 or

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