Council Rangers, if they deem you have committed an offense, can ask you for your personal details, but not explicitly insist on sighting physical ID. They can, however, insist on scanning your dog’s chip, so they can indirectly ID you. In my ignorance, I thought this was exclusively a police power. If you either refuse to give them your name and address, or, let them scan your dog’s chip, then they can arrest you. Isn’t that another prerogative of the police? I guess not; they wield police powers without the full police training.
I’m a (relatively) responsible dog owner and still have managed to have had a few chats with Council Rangers over Teddy’s inhuman behaviour. The last instance being his anti-social behaviour of running into an unfenced playground frantically looking for my 2 baby children, being instantly called to heal and leashed, but still given a $330 slap on the wrist for Teddy’s disturbance of the peace. $330 is the minimum fine applicable for such an offence.
Fair is fair, the law says dogs are not allowed in kids areas. Let $330 be a warning to me that Teddy might go on an unexpected, search-and-rescue mission at will and, in so doing, significantly upset the public.
A few months back, a pair of council rangers, from the same park, witnessed a pair of rottweilers savage a Labrador and when the poor Lab’s mum tried to extricate the canine mess, she got her hand gouged for her troubles. The rotties’ owners claimed to the spectating rangers that the Lab attack their dogs. My horrified friend interceded and also attested that the reverse was the truth. In addition, she specifically also asked the rangers to get the details of the rotties’ owners. The rangers shook their heads and refused.
To be fair, if I were the ranger in the same position, I would do the same. It’s in the too hard bucket. Questioning, these less “responsible” owners and trying to fine them could be deemed a big, and confrontational, ask.
If your misdemeanour, however, is not in the “too hard bucket”, the council rangers have an obviously, well rehearsed, plan of inquiry: “Is this your dog? Can we check the chip? What is your name and address? By the way we are now fining you $330.” A $100 fine hurts, well try a minimum $330 for remembering to be responsible next time.
If, like myself, you would like to know your citizen’s rights, then a quick Google and even visits to NSW council websites may prove remarkably, and surprisingly, fruitless. A visit to the slightly less well-known, AustLII, will bear more fruit, however. For the layman, like myself, that has previously never heard of this helpful, free resource provided by UTS and UNSW Faculties of Law, here is the Companion Animals Act:
COMPANION ANIMALS ACT 1998 – SECT 69G
Requirement to state name and address
69G Requirement to state name and address
(1) An authorised officer who reasonably suspects a person of having committed an offence under this Act or the regulations may require the person to state his or her full name and residential address.
(2) A person must not:
(a) fail to comply with a requirement under this section, or
(b) in purported compliance with such a requirement, furnish a name that is not his or her name or an address that is not his or her residential address.
Maximum penalty: 15 penalty units.
(3) A person is not guilty of an offence under this section unless it is established that the authorised officer warned the person that a failure to comply is an offence.
(4) If an authorised officer suspects on reasonable grounds that a person has committed an offence under this section, the authorised officer may, without a warrant, arrest the person.
(5) An authorised officer who arrests a person under this section must, as soon as is reasonably practicable, take the person before an authorised officer (within the meaning of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 ) to be dealt with according to law.
Power to ascertain identification information of companion animals
69E Power to ascertain identification information of companion animals
(1) An authorised officer may, at any time while in a public place, take such steps as the officer considers necessary in order to ascertain the identification information of a companion animal (including scanning the animal).
(2) The authorised officer may do so only:
(a) if the officer reasonably suspects that an offence under this Act or the regulations in respect of the companion animal has been committed, or
(b) in the case of an authorised officer of a council, for the purposes of exercising the council’s functions under Division 6 of Part 5.
(3) This section does not prevent companion animals that have been lawfully seized, secured or detained by any person (including an authorised officer) under this Act from being scanned after they have been seized, secured or detained.