Dog attacks

We take dog attacks very seriously, they can be traumatic for all parties. A dog of any size or breed can become aggressive when defending its territory, resources or if it feels threatened. Even a friendly dog may guard the area on or around its property, especially when you are not present.

A dog attack offence occurs when a dog attacks or bites a person or animal causing an injury (whether serious or non-serious) or death.  A dog rush offence occurs where a dog acts aggressively within 3 metres of a person.  Both the person in apparent control of the dog and the owner (even if not present) may be liable if an attack or rush occurs.

Our Animal Management Officers frequently patrol the parks, open spaces and streets in the municipality. However, it is vital that dog owners are mindful of their dog’s behaviour and their surroundings.  Owners and those in control of the dog must keep their dog under effective control at all times.

Report a dog attack

Should a dog attack occur, ensure you exchange details with the dog owner and report the incident to us as soon as possible using the link below. It is also important that anyone involved in a dog attack reports it to Council as soon as possible.

Whilst our focus is on educating dog owners, we do take enforcement action when required. There are significant penalties under the Domestic Animals Act 1994.

When you contact us, please provide all relevant information, including:

  • time and date of the incident
  • where it happened
  • name of the dog owner (if you know)
  • dog registration number or name (if you know)
  • description of the dog and any photos of the offending dog
  • detailed description of the incident
  • photos of any injury
  • details of any witnesses to the incident


General obligations of dog owners

Most dog attacks occur in public places such as on footpaths, the road or more commonly in parks.  It is a requirement that your dog is kept on leash when in public areas, such as streets, footpaths and parks. 

Your dog may only be off leash in a public place that is a designated off-leash area.  When in an off-leash area the owner is under an obligation to make sure the dog does not worry, threaten or attack any person or animal.

All dog owners must ensure their pet is under effective control at all times, in both on and off-leash areas, minimising the risk of an attack occurring in our parks. It is important to know where your dog is at all times and be close enough so that you can place your dog on a lead quickly. If your dog is not well socialised or doesn’t respond well to other people or dogs, consideration should be given to not letting them off-leash at all. 

Muzzles are also an effective way of ensuring the safety of other people and animals. The owner is always responsible for ensuring the dog is properly secured to premises. This includes making sure that the dog doesn’t run out when a gate or door is opened.

Find out where our dog parks are in Yarra here

The full requirements for owners in off-leash areas and other restrictions is contained in the City of Yarra Council Order.  The Council Order is made under S10A and 26 of the Domestic Animals Act 1994.