Cassowary Coast Regional Council

Dog Attacks - A Guide to What Happens Next Dog Attacks - A Guide to What Happens Next


If you have been a victim or a witness in a dog attack on a person or animal you should:

  • Ensure your safety
  • Treat any wounds
  • Collect basic evidence such as:
    • Date, time and place of the incident
    • Who was involved
    • Description of the dog
    • What happened
    • What was said and who said it
    • What each dog did
    • Witnesses
    • Photos  of:
      • any injury
      • the dogs involved (if available)
    • Ask the treating doctor/ vet for an injury/ treatment report
  • Contact Council's customer service officers or after-hours service on 1300 763 903.

A Council officer will contact you to discuss an investigation.

Investigation Process

The investigating officer will contact the:

  • complainant and/or victim;
  • the witnesses
  • the dog owner/s (if known)

The officer will arrange interview times with them.

Interviewing the Complainant and/or Victim 
The complainant/victim needs to provide a formal statement and be prepared to give evidence if called upon. Without supporting evidence the ability for Council to action the matter is limited.

Interviewing  Witnesses 
It is important that witnesses provide formal statements and are prepared to give evidence if called upon.

Interviewing the Owner of the Dog(s) Involved in the Attack 
The local law officer will introduce himself/herself, explain the nature of his/her visit, show his/her identification badge and let the owner know that any answers may be recorded and used as evidence at a later date. Whether present at the incident or not, the dog owner will be given the opportunity to provide a statement.

Re-Interviewing the Complainant/Victim (where necessary)
Once all available evidence has been reviewed by the investigating officer, he/she will seek a peer review of his/her proposed decision, The peer review is by a fellow officer or their supervisor.

If the review identifies that the dog/s involved in the alleged attack has been properly identified and the evidence supports that an attack has occurred, a proposal to declare the dog/s involved will be made via an official notice.
See Declaration of Regulated Dogs

If the review identifies that the evidence does not support a proposal to declare, the victim and the dog owner will be notified that no further action will be taken on the matter.

Seizure of a Dog Involved in an Attack

If the dog/s involved in the attack is restrained, the investigating officer may arrange for the dog/s to be impounded.

If the dog has been returned to its owner/home the investigating officer may make a decision, depending on circumstances, to seize the dog.
Issues considered at this time include:

  • Ability of the owner to restrain the animal/s
  • Safety risk of the animal/s
  • Requirement for evidence
  • Risk of flight
  • Ability to identify the animal/s

Council's actions in seizing a dog involved in an alleged attack are controlled by the Animal Management (Cats and Dogs) Act, 2008 ("the Act").

This may involve the return of the animal to its owner or the issue of a destruction order.

A dog involved in an attack is not automatically destroyed unless the animal is assessed as "a danger to staff attempting to seize or having to manage the animal as an impounded animal".

If a dog is seized, once a decision is made regarding the dog's involvement in an attack and if the dog is to be issued with a "Proposal to Declare" notice , it will generally be returned to the owner.  The owner must ensure the dog is effectively contained and controlled.

Process Involved in Declaring a Dog a Regulated Dog

Once the investigation is complete, the investigating officer may make a recommendation in respect to further action. This will undergo a peer review or a supervisor review.

The recommendation could be:

  • Take no action as the evidence does not support the alleged attack (i.e. the  dog involved is not properly identified or the complainant /witness is not prepared to provide statements)
  • Issue a proposal to declare the dog dangerous or menacing
  • Issue a Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN) for the dog not being adequately controlled in a public place or the owner failing to contain the dog in an enclosure
  • Undertake court action for breaches of the Act (Note: This is a quite separate process from declaring the dog a regulated dog)

The Act outlines the procedures that must be followed in declaring a dog a "regulated dog" i.e. dangerous or menacing.

This involves:

  • An initial "Proposal to Declare" notice which includes information on which the officer has based the decision.
  • Each owner of and responsible person for the dog who is a subject of the proposed declaration notice must ensure the permit condition imposed under Schedule 1 section 3 and section 4 of the Act is complied with during this process and any subsequent review processes.
  • The dog/s must be kept in an enclosed area on the owner's property (see Animal Management (Cats & Dogs) Act Regulation 2009 Division 3 regarding the enclosure).
  • The dog owner has 14 days to lodge a submission, if they choose to, on the proposal to declare the dog a regulated dog.
  • A submission will be on the prescribed form and needs to outline the reason for a review.  A review will look at the evidence and/or facts associated with the allegations. Please Note: Past history of the dog's character is not considered a basis for review.  The review is undertaken by an independent supervising officer.
  • If, after considering any written representations and accompanying evidence, Council is satisfied that a relevant ground under section 89 of the Act exists, it must make the regulated dog declaration for the dog.

Council must, as soon as possible after deciding to make a regulated dog declaration, give the dog's owner a notice informing him/her of the declaration.

Once the declaration is made the owner has 14 days if they choose to make an application for review of the decision to declare the dog a regulated dog. 
See Decision Review Process .  If this review finds the original decision should stand then the owner has a further period of 14 days in which to lodge a request with the Queensland Commission of Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) for a review of the decision.  See Appeal of Review Decision

Consequences of a Dog Being Declared a "Regulated Dog"

Declaration of a dog is a serious matter and once imposed is for the "life of the dog". Conditions for keeping a declared dog include:

  • A child-proof enclosure as specified under the regulations of the Act.
  • Muzzling the dog (declared dangerous) when it is taken out of the enclosure.
  • The dog must be on a leash when taken out of the enclosure.
  • The dog must be microchipped.
  • An increased registration fee will be charged by Council.
  • De-sexing if classified a dangerous dog.
  • The dog will be included on a statewide register.
  • There is a legal requirement to notify Council if the dog is moved from its registered relevant place to another relevant place.  The new relevant place must meet all requirements before the dog is relocated. This advice must be provided within 7 days to the new area's council.
  • Entrances to the property must have signs regarding the dog's status.
  • The dog must wear a specific collar and/or tag regarding its status.

If non-compliance with these conditions is identified, Council has a right to seize the dog and issue a destruction notice.  The dog owner has a right to seek a review of this decision. See Decision Review Process and Appeal of Review Decision.