Australian laws prevent you carrying any sort of weapon or personal self defence product. After the event, you will get no help from the police and little more from your local council. You will end up with a badly wounded pet, the associated vet bills and – if the irresponsible dog owner is identified – the prospect of a court case which may well fail due to lack of evidence.

All you can really do to prevent your pet being attacked in public places is to avoid going to them

Being a responsible dog owner with a good-natured pet counts for nothing because you have no control over inconsiderate owners or their anti-social animals that will be sharing the beach, park or dog park with you.

The only course of action you have is to minimise the chance of an attack happening

  • Avoid public beaches
  • Avoid dog parks
  • Avoid public parks

It’s especially hazardous to walk your dog very early in the morning or late at night in local parks and on public beaches. Big, aggressive dogs are often let off leash at these times, irresponsible owners presumably think that no one else will be around. It’s also doubtful that you will have any witnesses if an attack occurs.

When a large, powerful dog goes in for the kill, not much will stop it in its tracks short of a bullet. Unfortunately, the most problematic breeds are incredibly strong, so trying to release their jaws when they take hold is no easy task.

In South Australia (and Australia) it’s illegal to defend yourself or your pet.

Adelaide Dog Attack Register - Popular Dog Attack Deterrents Overseas

Dog attack deterrents popular overseas, but illegal in South Australia

In the US, dog owners are allowed to purchase and carry Halt Dog Repellent Spray, which has been used by the US Postal Service since the ’60’s, but it’s prohibited in Australia. The spray products available here like Spray Shield are citronella-based, designed for mildly intimidating dogs. Reviews seem to dismiss its effectiveness against large, aggressive animals.

The Dangerous Articles and Prohibited Weapons Act 2000 (page 7 Schedule 1) prohibits the use of:

Self-protecting spray
6. A device or instrument designed or adapted as a weapon to emit or discharge an offensive, noxious or irritant liquid, powder, gas or chemical that is capable of immobilising, incapacitating or injuring another person either temporarily or permanently.

Self-protection device
7. A hand held device or instrument designed or adapted to emit or discharge—
(a) an electric current; or
(b) sound waves; or
(c) any electromagnetic energy, that is capable of immobilising, incapacitating or injuring another person either temporarily or permanently.

If you’ve witnessed your pet being savaged by a large, out of control dog there’s a temptation to carry a heavy, blunt weapon as a deterrent; however this is not recommended. Research (page 8) has identified that irresponsible owners that allow their aggressive pets off leash in public places often have a similar temperament to their animals and do not take kindly to their dog being beaten, even if it is trying to kill yours.

As the law stands currently in South Australia, you have:

  • NO PROTECTION from the police
  • NO PROTECTION from your local council
  • No legal way to defend yourself or your pet
  • No guarantee of a successful prosecution, even in cases where the irresponsible owner is identified

The only deterrent currently available in South Australia is risk minimisation

If I have missed anything or made any errors, please let me know and leave comments below.

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  • Hindsight

    This did not help at all, is SprayShield legal or not?

    • Alan Timms

      I believe the only spray deterrents legal in Australia are citronella ones … which would be pretty useless. All pepper sprays are illegal.

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