A dog, believed to be an American Staffordshire Terrier, reportedly “went nuts” and attacked a man and his wife, killing the man and injuring the wife. She is currently in a stable condition at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.


Not many details have been revealed of this attack, but the man’s body was found at a home in Mill Park at approximately 6:40pm on Wednesday (yesterday) and the wife was soon after taken to hospital.

Police fired shots at the dog to prevent it from attacking again whilst a ranger tried to capture it. The dog remained inside the house for hours until it was taken away by an animal control van about four hours after the attack.

The deceased man’s daughter-in-law gave consent for the animal to be put down by a veterinarian, and it is understood that the owner of the dog has also consented to this course. The dog belongs to the occupant’s son (it is not clear if the occupant is the deceased man) and has been present in the house for a very long time. The dog is said to be older, familiar with all of the family members around and that the attack was very out of character, with a neighbour even reporting that there had never been any issues with the dog before, but also that “there was no stopping” when talking about the attack.


Tegan McPherson, from RSPCA Victoria has stated that there are several causes of dog attacks, but that breed is not necessarily one of them. “Breed alone is not a reliable predictor of aggressive behaviour”, she said, and that “from what we’re hearing, this dog didn’t necessarily have a background of aggressive behaviour until this incident”. There are several triggers that could give rise to such an attack by dogs, such as environmental factors to pain and fear. Without knowing the context of this attack, we are left guessing as to what the cause was. McPherson said “it could be fear related, it could be something else going on in the environment or it could be related to pathological changes in the dog’s brain or related to pain”.


The Companion Animals Act 1998 (NSW) (Companion Act) covers the rules governing pet ownership and responsibilities outlined in terms of protecting the public from certain animals.

Section 25 – Liability for Injury to Person or Damage to Personal Property

(1) The owner of a dog is liable in damages in respect of:

(a) bodily injury to a person caused by the dog wounding or attacking that person, and

(b) damage to the personal property of a person (including clothing) caused by the dog in the course of attacking that person.

(2) This section does not apply in respect of:

(a) an attack by a dog occurring on any property or vehicle of which the owner of the dog is an occupier or on which the dog is ordinarily kept, but only if the person attacked was not lawfully on the property or vehicle and the dog was not a dangerous dog, menacing dog or restricted dog at the time of the attack, or

(b) an attack by a dog that is in immediate response to, and is wholly induced by, intentional provocation of the dog by a person other than the owner of the dog or the owner’s employees or agents.

(3) This section does not apply in respect of a police dog or a corrective services dog.

(4) This section does not affect the liability apart from this section of any person for damage caused by a dog.

Section 26 – Continuation of Liability When Person Dies from Dog Attack

Where the death of a person is caused by a dog wounding or attacking the person and the person would (had death not ensued) have been entitled under section 25 to recover damages from the owner of the dog in respect of bodily injury caused by the wounding or attack, the wounding or attack is, for the purposes of the Compensation to Relatives Act 1897 , taken to be a wrongful act such as would (had death not ensued) have entitled the injured person to maintain an action against, and recover damages from, the owner of the dog in respect of that act.

Section 16 sets out Offences Where Dog Attacks Person or Animal

For the full legislation, click the above link. Briefly, the offences outlined include where

  • a restricted dog rushes at/attacks/harasses/chases person or animal,
  • where they do the same but as a result of a reckless act or omission by the dog’s owner or another person in charge of the dog at the time of the attack,
  • a restricted dog attacks or bites a person due to failure to comply with control requirements,
  • failure to comply with control requirements for a restricted dog,
  • selling or advertising for sale a restricted dog,
  • accepting ownership of a restricted dog,
  • breeding or advertising as available to breed a restricted dog, and
  • encouraging a restricted dog to attack.

These attract maximum penalties ranging from $16,500 – $77,000. For a list of all the penalties, check out this link.


A restricted dog in NSW is one of the following:

  • American pitbull terrier or pitbull terrier,
  • Japanese tosa,
  • Dogo Argentino (Argentinean fighting dog)
  • Fila Brasiliero (Brazilian fighting dog)
  • Any other dog of a breed, kind or description, whose importation into Australia is prohibited by, or under, the Customs Act 1901 (Cth) (Perro de Presa Canario or Presa Canario)
  • Any dog declared by an authorised officer of a council, under division 6 of the Companion Act.

A council officer can declare a dog as dangerous if it, without provocation, attacks or kills a person or animal (not including vermin), or threatens to attack or repeatedly chases a person or animal, or is kept or used for hunting (not including a dog used for locating, flushing, pointing or retrieving birds or vermin), or has been declared so by the laws of another State or Territory.

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