What can the Council do to help you?
The South Australian Dog and Cat Management Act states that Council may take action against a dog owner if their dog persistently interferes with your peace and harmony.
Convincing a dog owner to change his or her pet’s habits is not easy, and the more information we have, the easier it is to help you. In some cases a visit from Council staff and advice that their dog could be a problem is all that is required.
Unfortunately, this is often not the case, and in many cases in our experience, the dog owner doesn’t believe that there is a problem. To make any investigation work, we firstly need some information from you.
To make any investigation work, we firstly need some information from you.
Keeping a Record - The barking dog record
A seven day diary is used as Council’s confidential investigation into the complaint and is essential for a complaint to proceed. Fill in the diary sheet when the dog noise occurs. Do not try to remember at the end of each day or night as this will lead to mistakes in the accuracy of the diary. You must remember that the diary is a legal document that could become evidence in court, as such be sure to complete the entry correctly. All details remain confidential. Guidelines for filling out the diary are printed on the form.
In order for us to proceed with any investigation or action we need the following:
- the completed diary
- the cover completed and signed
- the completed statement section
Additionally, for any formal action to be undertaken, it is necessary that the complaint be substantiated by another adjoining or nearby resident who is experiencing the same problem. Once the diary is complete, the investigating Officer will make inquiries in this regard. If the complaint cannot be substantiated, we cannot take any formal action. This is because we need a minimum standard of evidence to prove a case to a Court if necessary.
The Next Steps
Once you have filled out the diary, send it to Council.
One of the Council’s Animal Management Officers will approach the dog owner in person and by letter. The dog owner will be advised that Council is investigating a complaint and advise them, if required, how to resolve the noise. We will also contact you at this point and let you know the situation.
If the Dog Owner Cooperates
If the dog noise is acknowledged by the owner and they agree to take some action this can alleviate the concern, however some strategies may require to be trialled before they result in an ongoing solution. The length of time to provide an ongoing solution can vary, however it is important that during this period you continue to monitor the concern and maintain your diary entries as the feedback can assist the owner and also Council, should further action be required.
Please note that trialling a solution does not exempt the owners from preventing their dog from barking and does not exempt them from potential fines or orders. It is important that any trials are conducted after consulting with the Council staff investigating the concern. If the concern improves then no further action will be taken by Council.
If the Dog Owner does not Cooperate
If the dog owner refuses to cooperate, the process becomes quite formal.
We have the power to serve an order (a legal document) on the dog owner to take reasonable steps to abate the noise. The dog owner then has 7 days or such longer period as is allowed by the council to make submission to the council with respect to the matter.
We may also give you and other complainant’s diary sheets to fill out during this period. It is very important that you do so as this may have to be produced in evidence later on. If we do not receive all the diaries, or if they are not completed, we will not be able to proceed any further.
After the waiting period has expired, return the diaries to Council and the situation will be reviewed.
If things have not improved, Council will consider whether or not to take legal action. Legal action is not automatic and depends upon our assessment of each case. Should Court action be necessary, then we may have to ask you to appear as a witness. If you do not wish to do this, then the Council cannot proceed any further.
It may also take some time to obtain a hearing date at the Court. During this period you must keep an up to date record of the noise and the effect it has had on you.
Should court action be successful, then Council will ask that the court orders the dog owner to seek some special help (usually from a vet or other qualified person) to correct their pet’s problem. We may ask the Magistrate to order specific controls be placed on the owner of the dog. Assuming that the Order is given and that they comply with it, this should have the desired result.
If any further details or information is required about the above, please contact the Animal Management section on (08) 8633 9720