HOW AND TO WHOM TO REPORT NUISANCE AND DANGEROUS DOG BEHAVIOUR
People are often at a loss as to whom to report ‘nuisance’ dog behaviour. Many are of the belief that it falls to the SPCA to deal with these issues. To help clarify what procedure to follow and whom to liaise with, here is a guide to taking the appropriate steps.
Firstly, it should be understood that the mandate of the SPCA is animal welfare and prevention of cruelty, as outlined in the Animal Protection Act 71 of 1962. In a nutshell, the SPCA is there to protect and preserve the emotional and physical wellbeing of ALL animals, usually from humans.
When an animal displays what is termed ‘nuisance’ behaviours, such as excessive barking, escaping and running loose in public, chasing people/vehicles in public, biting and/or attacking people, this falls outside the mandate of the SPCA. These are behaviours which contravene Municipal By-Laws and must be reported to the local municipality authority, which may be the SAPS or Metro Police or like in your town/province. The SPCA has no jurisdiction in these cases and can only assist the relevant authorities with impounding the animal once the legal procedures have been followed. These complaints should be made in writing to ensure a documented recording of the behaviour and if applicable have other people affected by the behaviour to also submit a written complaint.
DOG BITES/ATTACKS BY AN ANIMAL OWNED BY ANY PERSON
Report the incident to the local authority, SAPS, Metro Police, JMPD or Municipal equivalent.
Ensure the case be registered in terms of the Animal Matters Amendment Act 42 of 1993.
Should the incident be recurring and the aggressive animal continues to chase/attack people, you may obtain a Protection Order (PO) from your district magistrates court, in terms of the Protection from Harassment Act 17 of 2011. This is free service and is initiated at the clerk of the court:
Protection Order Procedure:
Download and complete the relevant section of the forms provided main-form-c1.pdf (justice.gov.za.
As the complainant ensure that you indicate the animal is aggressive and is chasing and/or attacking on specified dates.
Submit the completed forms at the clerk of the court, where it will be referred to the magistrate for consideration and review.
Should the magistrate deem there is sufficient grounds for the complaint, they may authorise an interim PO.
The magistrate may also authorise a concurrent warrant of arrest held in suspension/ abeyance. Should the owner of the dog fail to adhere or contravene the PO, by allowing the nuisance dog behaviour to continue (chains/attacking) they may be subject to arrest and prosecution for contempt of court.
Both the complainant and respondent (dog owner) will appear in court at a date set when the interim PO was issued. They are both entitled to legal representation and a final order may be granted if there is sufficient cause.
It is only AFTER this final order has been issued, that the SPCA is granted the right to seize and impound the animal. However, when laying the original complaint, you may keep the SPCA in copy. They may be able to engage with the owner and persuade the owner to relinquish ownership before another incident occurs.
All medical and veterinary costs pertaining to the unlawful attack may be claimed from the owner of the animal via the small claims court, this is free (https://www.justice.gov.za/scc/scc.htm).