Allow Dog or Cat To Be a Nuisance

Allow Dog or Cat To Be a Nuisance

This charge is generally filed against a person to cover a prosecution for the persistent barking of dogs. It is commonly fought in court on a matter of principle given that the penalty is so low (i.e. do you want to pay a lawyer when the fine is only 3 penalty units?). An accused may also choose to fight this charge to avoid getting a conviction recorded against their name, as even non-convictions still go on a person’s criminal record and that may be a concern for people.

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

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?

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.