Responsible Pet Ownership

Responsible Pet Ownership

Pet Registration

The Domestic (Feral & Nuisance) Animals Act 1994 states that all dogs and cats over 3 months of age must be registered with Council and registration must be renewed annually.  Registration must be paid by 10 April each year.  Penalties apply for failing to register cats and dogs.

Barking Dogs

Your neighbours can complain if your dog is often noisy or disturbs the peace unreasonably.  A Council officer will discuss the problem with you and offer advice on what you can do about it.  If the problem continues and they don't think you are making a real effort to stop the dog barking, the Council can prosecute and you may be fined.

Wandering Dogs

It is an offence to allow you dog to wander on its own outside your premises.  Your dog must be securely confined - that is, the gates must be shut and the dog must be unable to leave the property.

Dogs and Cats on Other People's Property

Your neighbours are entitled to the enjoyment of their garden without your dog or cat roaming around, possibly killing birds, digging up the garden or chasing their animals.  If a neighbour asks you to stop your dog or cat coming onto their property you must do so.  If they ask you more than once and your animal still strays onto their land you can be sent a Notice of Objection by the Council.  If your dog or cat strays again after this Notice, you can be fined or prosecuted by the Council.

Responsible Pet Owner's Checklist

Being a responsible owner means you:

  • Choose your type and breed of pet carefully
  • Take your pet to the vet regularly
  • Desex your dog or cat if you don't plan to breed from it
  • Give your dog or cat proper food, shelter and exercise
  • Don't allow your dog or cat to be a nuisance to other people
  • Make sure your dog or cat is looked after when you go on holidays
  • If you can no longer care for your dog or cat, make sure it has another home to go to or place it with an animal shelter

Dealing With Other People's Cats and Dogs

Talk to Your Neighbour

If you have a genuine problem with your neighbour's pet, start by discussing your concerns with your neighbour. Talk about it in a friendly and constructive way. Many people don't realise that their animal is being a nuisance. Try to find a mutually acceptable solution.

Making a Complaint to Council

If talking to your neighbour doesn't work, you can contact your local Council. The Council will pursue legitimate concerns, but to pursue the matter properly they will need your help. You should be prepared to: 

  • give your name and address to the Council
  • put your concerns in writing to your neighbours in the case of¬†an unwanted dog or cat on your property
  • keep records of the incidents e.g. keep a diary of how often a¬†cat comes into your garden or when you see a dog wandering¬†on its own up the street
  • sign a Statutory Declaration of your complaint if Council asks¬†you to
  • be a witness if court prosecution becomes necessary

Dog Attacks

Any dog can attack. Dog attacks on adults are caused mostly by dogs outside their owner's property. Keeping your dog securely confined to your property and following the rules of responsible pet ownership will help prevent your dog attacking someone.

By contrast, dog attacks on children occur mostly in the yard of their own home or another person's home. Dogs tend to attack or bite out of fear or an attempt to dominate. Children are often vulnerable targets for a dog attack, even from a dog they know and love. They may provoke aggressive responses by inadvertently challenging the dog or intruding into its territory.

Most injuries to children are inflicted on the head or face. Always supervise your dog around children. Children should be taught not to put their faces close to a dog's mouth and not to hug dogs tightly or tease them. Teach your children not to pat a strange dog, a dog which is tied up, a dog which has been left in a car, or a dog which is eating.

Dog Droppings

Outside your home you must collect your dog's droppings.  Excrement in our streets, parks and public areas is detrimental to public health and the environment. Dog faeces can end up in storm water drains and pollute our waterways. It is your responsibility to carry a plastic bag or 'pooper scooper' to clean up and dispose of your dog's droppings in an adequate facility. In many areas you can be fined for not cleaning up after your dog.

Secure Confinement

Your dog must be confined to your property both day and night, except when being exercised on a leash or under effective control.  You must ensure confinement to your property.  Dogs are curious; a dog not confined has a natural instinct to roam.  Your roaming dog is in danger of being injured by a car or by other roaming dogs.  Fines can be imposed on the owner of a wandering dog. 

Your cat must also be confined to your property, especially at night.  This will keep it safe from accidents and cat fights.  This also protects our native nocturnal wildlife.

Remember, it is an offence for your cat to wander on private property against the wishes of the owner/occupier.

Effective Control

Any dog or cat in a public place must be under effective control by its owner at all times.  This can be by means of a leash, or in the case of dogs, under direct voice command.  Some dogs can be aggressive towards other animals and people.  In extreme cases, dogs can endanger lives if not controlled properly.  If your dog attacks another animal or person, you are responsible and liable for its actions.  Train your dog to be obedient when outdoors so it is not a nuisance to neighbours.  A dog that has been taught a few simple rules will become a well-adjusted and well-behaved family pet.  Training can prevent your dog barking and/or attacking people or other animals.

Animal Desexing

Neuter (desex) your animals if you do not plan to breed them - neutered animals make better, more contented pets.  Preferably, this should be done before the age of six months. 

Desexed animals:

  • are less stressed by reproductive or territorial demands
  • have increased health and well-being
  • have reduced registration costs

Cats won't wander or fight as much, are quieter and less odorous, when desexed.

Uncontrolled breeding results in large numbers of unwanted cats joining the stray and feral populations.  Most suffer through disease and injury, and many prey on native wildlife to survive.


Register your dog and/or cat with Council as required by law.  The Council tag will provide the best form of identification should your pet be lost.

Do Not Forget

Renew your pet's registration prior to 10 April each year.

Animal Housing

Animals, birds and poultry must be confined to the property of the owner or person caring for the animal.  The housing of birds and poultry must prevent their escape and provide protection against wandering animals. Animal housing includes pens, poultry houses, bird cages, dog and cat enclosures and must be constructed according to Council specifications.  A person must make an application to Council if they wish to exceed the permissible number of animals, birds or poultry kept on a property. A permit may be issued, subject to neighbours' consent to the proposal.  All permit conditions must be adhered to and the enclosure must pass inspection by Council.

Without a permit a person in a residential area MUST NOT keep more than:

  • two dogs;
  • two cats;
  • two quadrupeds (four legged animals);
  • five reptiles;
  • twenty birds;
  • ten poultry; and
  • one horse .

For further information please contact Council's Customer Service on (03) 5722 0888 or email

Last Updated: 16-07-2013

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