Continuing on with our love of pets this month – a question which sometimes comes up for a Committee is whether to impose a muzzle requirement on certain breeds of dog – even where the specific dog has no demonstrated history of aggression.
Very recently the Body Corporate Commissioner’s office was asked to consider this issue for a German Shepherd (“Loki”) who came to live with his dad at one of the Gabba Central schemes.
Prior to bringing Loki to stay with him, the Applicant sought approval under the by-laws to keep Loki and in confirming that approval the Committee added two additional conditions – including a condition for Loki to wear a muzzle whilst on the common property.
The applicant disputed the muzzle condition, providing evidence of Loki’s behaviour and asked the Committee to reconsider their condition. The Committee noted Loki had suffered abuse and there was a risk to biting out of fear, later the issue was considered at a general meeting with owners being asked to vote on two options:
Committee’s Option 1: Standard by-law conditions + muzzle; (12 Yes votes, 11 No votes) OR
Applicant’s Option 2: Standard by-law conditions – no muzzle requirement (10 Yes Votes, 10 No votes).
Unhappy with the outcome, the Applicant filed his application for an adjudication and won.
In a quite lengthy decision, Adjudicator Rosemann considered evidence tendered by both sides and ultimately found that imposition by the body corporate of muzzle requirement was “unreasonable”.
In reaching that conclusion, Adjudicator Rosemann considered:
- RSPCA recommendations that muzzles only be worn for short periods of time where the dog is under constant supervision;
- A behavioral report on Loki from a QLD police dog handler ands trainer stating Loki did not require a muzzle;
- A behavioral report on Loki from a trainer following a two-hour assessment on the common property stating Loki did not require a muzzle;
- Previous pet approvals at the scheme for dogs without the muzzle requirement;
- Owner submissions on the propensity of larger dogs to bite and the perception of risk;
- The body corporate’s steps to protect itself from risk of a bite on the common property;
The decision demonstrates the importance of gathering evidence and considering each case on its own merits.
Read the full order here
It is important to note that the adjudicators orders that we review each month are made on a case by case basis by the commissioners office based on the applications, submissions, by laws pertaining to each of the schemes, legislation that is applicable and are not a fit all order.