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Responsibilities for restricted breed owners

Explains the responsibilities of the owner of a restricted breed of dog.

In addition to the owner’s obligations to identify and inform council and prospective owners about a dog that is a restricted breed, the owner must make sure that the public are safe by:

  • securing the dog in a prescribed enclosure while it is on the owner’s premises
  • displaying prescribed warning signs
  • making sure that the dog is muzzled, on a secure lead and handled by an adult.

Home security for the restricted breed

When a restricted breed dog is on owner's premises, the owner must make sure that:

  • while the dog is inside a house or other building on the property, the dog is confined so that it cannot escape
  • a person cannot enter any building containing the dog, unless admitted by an occupier over 18 years
  • there must be a prescribed enclosure on the premises
  • when dog is not inside the house or other building on the premises, the dog must be kept in the prescribed enclosure.

The enclosure must be escape proof and not accessible by anyone less than 18 years old. The exact specifications are set out in the Regulations.

Note: Enclosures are the same for both restricted breed and dangerous dogs.

Penalty

The maximum penalty is 20 penalty units.

Note: If this offence is dealt with by issue of an infringement notice the penalty will be 1 penalty unit.

See ss. 41G, 85—Domestic Animals Act 1994 (Vic) and r. 50, Schedule 5—Domestic Animals Regulations 2015 (Vic).

Security outside the owner’s premises

If a restricted breed dog is outside the premises of its owner it must be:

  • muzzled so that the dog is not able to bite
  • on a chain, cord or leash
  • controlled by someone who is over 17 years old
  • identified by a prescribed collar.

Penalty

The penalty is up to 40 penalty units.

Note: If this offence is dealt with by issue of an infringement notice the penalty will be 1 penalty unit.

See ss. 41I, 85—Domestic Animals Act 1994 (Vic) and r. 50, Schedule 5—Domestic Animals Regulations 2015 (Vic).

Collars

A restricted breed dog must wear a collar at all times that identifies it as a restricted breed of dog.

These collars are prescribed in the regulations.

Penalty

The maximum penalty is:

  • 40 penalty units.

See ss. 41HA—Domestic Animals Act 1994 (Vic).

Warning signs for restricted breed dogs

The owner of a restricted breed dog must display warning signs to warn people that a restricted breed dog is kept at premises. Signs must comply with the regulations and be displayed at all entrances to premises where the dog is kept.

Penalty

The maximum penalty is:

  • 5 penalty units for a first offence
  • 10 penalty units for a second or subsequent offence.

Note: If this offence is dealt with by issue of an infringement notice the penalty will be 1 penalty unit.

See ss. 41H, 85—Domestic Animals Act 1994 (Vic) and r. 50, Schedule 5—Domestic Animals Regulations 2015 (Vic).

Limitation on ownership of restricted breed dogs

It is illegal to house more than two restricted breed dogs on the same property unless council have issued a permit which allows this.

A person is not permitted to own more than two restricted breed dogs without a council permit.

Penalty

The maximum penalty for owners without a council permit is 5 penalty units.

See s. 41J—Domestic Animals Act 1994 (Vic).

Breeding is prohibited

It is an offence to breed from a restricted breed dog. This includes a person who consents to, arranges or recklessly allows their restricted breed dog to breed. Authorised officers have the power to get documents from a vet that could help to prove that breeding has taken place.

Period for starting proceedings

There is an extended period for commencing proceedings against a person who is being charged with this offence. A person can be charged up to 3 years after the commission of the offence.

Penalty

The maximum penalty for breeding is 60 penalty units or 6 months jail.

See s. 41EB, 95A—Domestic Animals Act 1994 (Vic) and Identification of pets.

Issue of council permits

A council may issue a permit to own or house more than two restricted breed dogs to any person who has applied to the council for such a permit. An application for a permit must be:

  • in writing in form approved by council
  • accompanied by fee determined by council for such an application.

A permit:

  • is subject to any terms and conditions determined by the council
  • remains in force for a period not exceeding two years determined by the council
  • may be renewed on application to the council.

The holder of a permit (and any person living at that house) must comply with terms and conditions of permit.

Penalty

The maximum penalty for householders who do not comply with the restricted breed permit is 5 penalty units.

See s. 41J—Domestic Animals Act 1994 (Vic).

Children and restricted breed dogs

It is an offence for a person who is less than 18 years to be in charge of a restricted breed dog outside the premises of the dog's owner.

A child may not own restricted breed. The owner of a restricted breed dog must not sell, give or otherwise transfer ownership of the dog to another person who is less than 18 years of age.

Penalty

The maximum penalties are:

  • 5 penalty units (transferring ownership to a person under 18)
  • 10 penalty units (for a person under 18 who is in control of a restricted breed of dog off the owner's property)

See 'Limits on transfer of ownership' under Restricted breeds and s. 41L—Domestic Animals Act 1994 (Vic).

Review of council decision

An owner may apply to the General list of Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for review of a council’s decision to declare a dog dangerous, menacing or a restricted breed.

An owner can apply for review of a council’s refusal to register or renew registration of a restricted breed dog unless council is prohibited from registering such a dog.

Council must not register or renew the registration of a restricted breed dog unless it has been permanently identified and desexed. Some exceptions apply to the de-sexing requirement.

See Microchips.

Time limit

Owners must apply for a review within 28 days of the latest event:

  • council decision made
  • reasons for a decision are given (or refused) by VCAT.

More information

Legislation

Domestic Animals Act 1994 (Vic)

  • Div 3B—laws that govern restricted breed dogs in Victoria
  • s. 38—restraint of dangerous dogs when on owner's premises
  • s. 41EB—prohibition on breeding from a restricted breed of dog
  • s. 41G—restraint of restricted breed dogs when on owner's premises
  • s. 41I—restraint of restricted breed dogs off the owner's premises
  • s. 41J—limitation on ownership of restricted breed dogs
  • s. 41H—requirement that warning signs on property where a restricted breed dog is housed
  • s. 41HA—requirement for a restricted breed dog to wear a collar
  • s. 41K—prohibition on transfer of ownership of restricted breed dogs to minors
  • s. 41L—prohibition on minor having control of dog outside owner's premises
  • s. 85—offences that can be dealt with by issue of an infringement notice
  • s. 95A—extended period to prosecute offence
  • s. 98—review of decisions by VCAT

See Domestic Animals Act 1994 (Vic).

Domestic Animals Regulations 2015 (Vic)

  • r. 50—explains how infringement penalties are to be calculated
  • Schedule 3—an example of the warning sign that must be displayed
  • Schedule 5—lists the infringement penalties for offences that can be dealt with by infringement under s. 88

See Domestic Animals Regulations 2015 (Vic).

Updated