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The Dog Control Act
The Dog Control Act 2013, as amended by the Dog Control (Amendment) Act 2014, has been partially proclaimed and in force since June 2, 2014. The Act seeks to provide for the control of dogs and to regulate the manner in which certain breeds of dogs are kept by their owners or keepers. It repeals the Dangerous Dogs Act 2000.
The Act categorises dogs into 2 classes. Six breeds are specified as dangerous or class A dogs: the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, the American Bully, the Dogo Argentino, the Japanese Tosa and the Fila Brasileiro. All other dogs are classified as Class B.
The sections of the Act that have been proclaimed and are currently in force are: Sections 1 to 5, 5A, 8, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19 to 26, 26A, 28 and 30. They provide, among other things, that:
• Every person who owns or keeps a dog shall provide it with adequate and appropriate care, food, water, shelter, exercise, attention and veterinary care as may be required to meet the needs of the dog.
• No dog is allowed to enter a public space where a notice is displayed prohibiting entry to dogs unless the dog is an assistance dog, or is being used to secure the location or by a person in the service of the State.
• Class A dogs shall be kept in the enclosed premises of its owner or keeper.
• It is an offence for any owner or keeper of a class A dog to abandon that dog. A person who abandons their dog is liable to a fine of fifty thousand dollars and to imprisonment for two years.
• The owner or keeper of a class A dog can be found liable in civil proceedings for any death, injury or damage caused by that dog.
• A person who owns a class A dog must display a notice in a prominent place on his property warning of a dangerous dog.
• The owner or keeper of any other type of dog which has been dangerously out of control on at least one occasion must also display a notice in a prominent place warning of a dangerous dog.
• The owner or keeper of a class A dog is liable to: A fine of one hundred thousand dollars and to five years imprisonment if their dog unreasonably injures someone; and a fine of two hundred thousand dollars and to ten years imprisonment if their dog unreasonably kills someone.
• It is a criminal offence for a person to incite their dog to cause grievous bodily harm or death to another person.
• The owner or keeper of a class A dog who is unable to fulfill the requirements of the Act may inform the Ministry of Local Government of such and the Ministry will take possession of the dog.
• The Minister may declare any other type of dog to be subject to the same restrictions as a Class A dog.
The Act also provides requirements for registration, licensing, securing of premises, and obtaining policies of insurance for Class A dogs. These sections and their supporting Regulations are not yet proclaimed and are therefore not in force at this time.