Allow Dog or Cat To Be a Nuisance

The offence of Allowing a Dog or Cat to Be a Nuisance is found in section 32 of the Domestic Animals Act 1994 in Victoria. It is a criminal offence for a dog or cat owner to allow their pet to cause a disturbance. The penalty for this offence is so low which makes it commonly fought in court on a matter of principle. It is also often fought in court mainly to avoid a conviction which could affect a person’s criminal record.

Have you been accused of Allow Dog or Cat to Be a Nuisance?

Council Interview
If the council contact you about interviewing you in relation to your dog or cat being a nuisance, chat to a lawyer before answering any questions. Anything you say in an interview is critical to how your case will proceed. Sometimes it’s best to put your side of the story on record. Other times it’s best to answer ‘no comment’ to their questions. This depends on a variety of factors.

Pleading Not Guilty
If you dispute the allegations about your pet, or maybe it isn’t your pet, toy have the right to contest the allegation. Whilst this is not a particularly serious offence, you are still at risk of a conviction and you should therefore discuss possible defences with one of our lawyers. We can assess the case against you and devise a defence strategy. This might include asking for the charge to be withdrawn by the police so it never reaches the hearing stage.

Pleading Guilty
Our lawyers run guilty pleas on a daily basis. Not only can we run an effective plea on your behalf to ensure the best possible outcome in court, we also suggest measures that can be put in place to ensure the offending doesn’t happen again. In relation to one’s dog or cat being a nuisance, we can explore ways of preventing the animal from continuing to be a nuisance. This takes the stress away moving forward and will also help your case.

Sentencing
Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts of Victoria Sentencing Statistics Pie Chart for Allow Dog or Cat to Be a Nuisance in the Magistrates' Courts
Which court will the case be heard in?
Allow Dog or Cat To Be a Nuisance is considered a summary offence and hence will be heard at the Magistrates’ Court.

Meaning of Allow Dog or Cat to Be a Nuisance
The Prosecution must prove:

  1. That a dog or cat was kept or permitted to remain on the premises of the accused, and
  2. That dog or cat had been a nuisance by:
    1. Injuring or endangering the health of any person, or
    2. Creating a noise, such as barking, which persistently occurs and unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of any person in any other premises, and
  3. That the accused must have then been the occupier of the premises
Defences
Some of the criminal defences used to fight this charge in court are impossibility, lack of intent, honest and reasonable mistake of belief, incorrect facts, and the concept of beyond reasonable doubt. The overall circumstances of a case will determine what will be an appropriate defence to the charge. Questions that we might raise in a matter like this could include:

  • Did your neighbour confuse another dog’s barking with your dog’s barking?
  • Did the victim trespass on your property, and whilst doing so they were injured by your dog?
  • Is it actually a dog or a cat? Rabbits, guinea pigs and birds would not be covered under this section.
  • Was the barking actually persistent – did it continue for a few days, or weeks, or months?
Maximum penalty for section 32(1) of the Domestic Animals Act 1994
This offence of Allow Dog or Cat to Be a Nuisance (s32(1) of the Domestic Animals Act 1994) carries a fine of 3 penalty units (around $483) as the highest possible sentence.

Case studies and other information