Criminal charges involving Council prosecutions and dog attacks or dog rushes
Being served with charges by a council for a dog attack/rush can be an expensive matter and have very serious implications for your dog. If you are found guilty,you can be hit with:
- Fines for the offences
- Pound fees
- Veterinary/medical expenses for the victim
- Council legal costs
- Destruction of your dog
- Declaration of your dog as dangerous
- Declaration of your dog as menacing
- A criminal record
- The court may ban you from having a dog or being in charge of a dog
In certain cases, it is possible that the victim will issue legal proceedings against you for compensation of potentially very large amounts on account of their injuries. Appropriate action always needs to be taken immediately regarding this issue and our advice in this respect has saved some clients tens of thousands of dollars.
Melke Legal has very substantial experience from handling well in excess of 100 dog attack cases and from successfully defending such cases.
If the charges cannot realistically be defended, often we can avoid a court criminal record for you regarding the offence and/or isolate significant factors that may reduce your penalty and the potential implications for your dog. Because of this experience, Melke Legal is very efficient in identifying the defences that you may have to the charges and which cases are likely to successfully be defended, avoiding the stress and expense of conducting a defence most likely to not succeed.
And Melke Legal has substantial experience in reducing considerably the pound fees and council legal costs you are asked to pay.
There are a number of offences commonly charged in these matters. The most important such offences are those pursuant to section 29 of The Domestic Animals Act.These offences concern where you are the owner or person in apparent control of a dog that rushes someone or attacks someone or an animal.The maximum penalties range from approximately $1500 to almost $18,000 and 6 months imprisonment depending upon the seriousness of the attack and whether or not your dog was a dangerous dog or restricted breed dog at time of attack.
However, there are some defences specifically provided for in The Domestic Animals Act ,the most commonly used of which are :
- that the incident occurred because the dog was being teased, abused or assaulted;
- that the incident occurred because a person was trespassing on the premises on which the dog was kept ;and
- that the incident occurred because another animal was on the premises on which the dog was kept.
There are sections in The Domestic Animals Act that define who is an owner and deem persons to be owners in certain circumstances.Further, case law has some impact also upon who is an owner of the dog . Accordingly , the issue of ownership of a dog can be quite complicated.
There are also definitions in The Domestic Animals Act relating to what amounts to a “serious injury” and the level of penalty applied depends significantly in part upon whether or not the injury is a “serious injury”.