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What to do when a dog attacks

They’re known as man’s best friend and bring so much joy into many people’s lives, but dogs also have the potential to cause serious injury and even death. This was highlighted in a recent news story about a mauling which led to the death of a Dachshund leaving two families distraught. What are your rights and responsibilities when it comes to dogs?

What happens if I’m attacked by a dog?

Being bitten or attacked by a dog can be a terrifying experience. If you receive a non-serious bite or even if a dog rushes at you or chases you, you can report this to your local council as it’s considered ‘menacing’ behaviour.

If you’re attacked or receive a nasty bite you should seek medical attention to ensure you receive proper care. You can then report the attack to your local council, or if it’s after hours you can report the incident to police. The owner of the dog can be held liable for any injuries or damage it inflicts.

If your dog is attacked by another dog, you should seek medical attention from a vet and you can then report the incident to your local council. The owner of the attacking dog may be held liable for any vet or associated costs.

If you’ve been the victim of a dog bite there are damages that you may be able to claim:

  • Medical, rehabilitation and hospital expenses
  • Loss of earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Home help and nursing provided by anyone, paid or unpaid, if it meets certain conditions

Dog owner responsibilities

While laws surrounding dogs and dog pet ownership are governed by councils and can vary between local council areas, there are some general rules that are the same.

These include:

  • A dog should be securely confined in a property, so they’re unable to escape. Visitors should also be able to access a your front door without being stopped by a your dog.
  • When taking your dog into public areas or out of your property, dogs must be restrained on a lead at all times (except in “off-leash” areas). If your dog is deemed to be dangerous, they must also be muzzled while in a public area. Dog owners that don't keep their dog confined or restrained properly could face hefty fines.
  • All dogs need to be registered and microchipped
  • A dog deemed to be dangerous must also be de-sexed.

If a your dog attacks a person or another dog it will be taken very seriously, and owners could face large fines or even imprisonment. Dog owners may also be liable for any damage or injury that their dog may cause.


What many people don’t know is that they may have insurance available to them to cover the legal liability of their dogs. This is often offered in pet or home and contents insurance, and dog owners may be covered if a third party’s property is damaged, or someone is injured or killed as a result of an incident involving their dog.

The cover usually includes not just amounts for compensation to the third party, but the legal costs and expenses of defending a claim, which could be substantial, especially where the circumstances of the incident are in dispute.

If you own a dog, you should review your insurance policy to ensure you have coverage for such an incident and to ensure the policy meets your individual circumstances and needs.

Aggressive dogs

It’s important to remember that all dogs are capable of aggression, especially if they’re guarding their territory. If your dog displays any aggressive tendencies, you should visit your vet to rule out any underlying medical conditions and visit a pet behaviourist. You should ensure that your dog is kept safe until the underlying issues are dealt with.

Contact us

Shine Lawyers are the dog bite compensation claim experts, contact us today so we can help you right wrong.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: November 26, 2019.

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