What are the legal implications of a dog attack?

Sep 6, 2022 | Publication | 0 comments

A person injured from a dog attack may be able to bring a claim for compensation against the owner of the dog following a dog attack.

The owner of the dog may also face penalties under the Companion Animals Act 1998.


The effect of section 25 of the Companion Animals Act is that the owner of a dog is liable in damages in respect of injury to a person caused by a dog and for damage to personal property of a person caused by the dog.

There are exceptions to the above which are:

  1. an attack by a dog occurring on any property or vehicle of which the owner of the dog is an occupier or on which the dog is ordinarily kept, but only if the person attacked was not lawfully on the property or vehicle and the dog was not a dangerous dog, menacing dog or restricted dog at the time of the attack, or
  2. an attack by a dog that is in immediate response to, and is wholly induced by, intentional provocation of the dog by a person other than the owner of the dog or the owner’s employees or agents,
  3. dog attacks involving police or corrective services dog.

If you have been injured following a dog attack or animal attack, it is important that you obtain legal advice as you may have a claim for compensation.

What penalties could the owner of the dog confront following a dog attack?

There is a maximum penalty of $11,000 for owner’s of dogs that rush at, attack, bite, harass or chase an animal (other than vermin) whether or not any injury is caused.

The owner can be prosecuted even if not present when the incident occurred. This penalty increases to $44,000 in the case of a menacing, dangerous or restricted dog.

In situations where the dog attack resulted from a ‘reckless act or omission’ by the owner, or by a person in charge of the dog, the maximum penalty increases to $22,000 and/or 2 years imprisonment.

If your dog or animal was responsible for injury, it is important that you obtain legal advice.

The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this publication is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. We are not responsible for the information of any source to which a link is provided or reference is made and exclude all liability in connection with use of these sources. If you do not wish to receive newsletters from us, please let us know.

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