Pet Laws: 4 Legal Issues to Consider as a Pet Owner

Law Blog

For most Australian households, having a companion animal as part of the family can be highly rewarding. Whether cats, dogs or birds, pets offer companionship and unconditional love. However, while pet ownership brings joy to your home, it presents numerous responsibilities. Besides, you must adhere to various pet laws applicable to your jurisdiction and be ready to deal with specific legal concerns as a pet owner. This post expounds more on these aspects below.

Dog Bites

If your dog attacks and bites someone, you might face a lawsuit for damages, pain and suffering, and medical expenses. The victim can file such a lawsuit regardless of whether it was an accident or the dog broke its leash and made the attack. Some people might also vex the animal and cause it to act aggressively. 

Whichever the reason for the attack, the applicable pet laws will apply, and you might be liable for the injuries caused. However, some states might also offer exceptions to dog-bite liabilities if you can prove that the victim provoked the animal.    

Nuisance/ Disturbance Claims

You might wonder whether you're breaking the law if your dog keeps barking or your roosters make irritable noises every sunrise. Generally, pet laws that regulate pet noises vary by jurisdiction. Besides, most reference violations stem from excessive pet noises, with fines tending to increase for subsequent offences.

If your neighbours file a nuisance claim for your pet's noises, they might uncover other violations. For example, you might get into trouble for unvaccinated animals, fencing and restricted animal violations. Therefore, ensure that your pets remain reasonably quiet to avoid agitating your neighbourhoods and other legal problems.  

Pet Custody Concerns 

Over time, pets become integrated into the family. Sadly, if an issue like a divorce happens, there will be a pet custody issue that you must solve. Unfortunately, most jurisdictions view pets as property instead of companion animals. 

If the matter ends up in a court of law, the jury might consider the pet's well-being to determine joint or sole custody. If the court finds evidence linking one partner to domestic violence that endangers the pet's life, it might award temporary legal custody to the other partner. 

Estate Planning Requirements 

Finally, since pets are part of your family, you should make provisions for their care if an unfortunate event happens to the owner, including death or illness. For example, you can mention your pets in your will to ensure they receive proper care in the event of your unfortunate demise. But since you can't allocate actual property or money to your pets, you can consider monetary allowance for your pet's caregiving support.


22 July 2022

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