Responsible pet ownership
Responsible pet owners microchip and register their dog or cat and ensure that their contact details are up to date. You can now update your contact details on the new NSW Pet Registry. If your dog or cat is lost, up to date contact details are the best way to bring your pet home.
The Pet Registry can be found at https://www.petregistry.nsw.gov.au.
It is important that all pet owners ensure their yard is secure and their pet cannot escape. Secure yards and enclosures are the most effective measures to prevent wandering animals and dog attacks.
Please ensure that your cat or dog is, at all times, wearing a collar and tag with your contact details on it. When away from home, it is important that your dog is controlled by a leash that it held by a person who can control the dog if necessary. Cats should be leashed or contained. This will help ensure that your dog or cat does not threaten or harm a person or animal (see dog attacks) and that your dog or cat does not cause a nuisance (see nuisance dogs and cats).
Microchipping & Registration
A microchip is a subcutaneous full duplex electronic radio transponder. Modern microchips are about the size of a grain of rice and are implanted beneath the animal's skin between the shoulders. No personal information is stored on the microchip, only the unique identification number.
In NSW, all cats and dogs, other than exempt cats and dogs, must be microchipped by 12 weeks of age or before being sold or given away, whichever happens first.
If you fail to have your cat or dog microchipped when required to do so, you may be issued with a fixed penalty notice for $165 or a court may award a maximum penalty of up to $880. Where your dog is a restricted dog or a declared dangerous dog you may be issued with a fixed penalty notice for $1,320 or a court may award a maximum penalty of $5,500.
All cats and dogs, other than exempt cats and dogs, must be registered by six months of age. The registration fee is a once-only payment, which covers the cat or dog for its lifetime in NSW, regardless of any changes in ownership. You are encouraged to have your cat or dog desexed before registering it.
Discounted registration fees apply to desexed cats or dogs. Having your cat or dog desexed prior to registration helps to reduce straying, fighting and aggression and antisocial behaviour, such as spraying to mark territory. It also helps to reduce the number of unwanted pets born each year.
Registration fees are used by councils for providing animal management related services to the community. These may include ranger services, pound facilities, dog refuse bins, educational and other companion animal-related activities.
If you fail to register your cat or dog when required to do so you may be issued with a fixed penalty notice of $275, or a court may award a maximum penalty of up to $5500 or up to $6,500 if your dog is a restricted dog or a declared dangerous or menacing dog.
Declared dangerous and menacing dogs
A declared dangerous dog is a dog that an authorised council officer or a local court has declared as dangerous because it:
- has, without provocation, attacked or killed a person or animal (not including vermin), or
- has, without provocation, repeatedly threatened to attack or repeatedly chased a person or animal (not including vermin), 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 a dangerous dog under a law of another State or a Territory that corresponds with the Act.
A declared menacing dog is a dog that an authorised council officer or a local court has declared as menacing because it:
- has displayed unreasonable aggression towards a person or animal (other than vermin), or
- has, without provocation, attacked a person or animal (other than vermin) but without causing serious injury or death, or
- has been declared a menacing dog under a law of another State or a Territory that corresponds with the Act.
Many people keep a dog to deter trespassers and burglars. There is no problem with this, providing that it does not become a danger to other people or animals, other than vermin (including displaying unreasonable aggression).
If you have evidence that a dog is dangerous or menacing, you should notify your local council.
Nuisance dogs and cats
Under the Companion Animals Act 1998 a dog is a nuisance dog if it:
- consistently roams; or
- makes persistent, excessive noise; or
- repeatedly defecates on private property other than the property on which it is ordinarily kept; or
- repeatedly runs at or chases a person, animal (other than vermin or in the course of droving, tending, working or protecting livestock) or vehicle; or
- endangers the health of a person or animal (other than vermin or in the course of droving, tending, working or protecting livestock); or
- repeatedly causes substantial damage to anything outside the property on which it is ordinarily kept.
Under the Companion Animals Act 1998 a cat is a nuisance cat if it:
- makes persistent, excessive noise that reasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of any person in any other premises; or
- repeatedly damages anything outside the property on which it is ordinarily kept.
If you have a complaint about a nuisance animal, you should talk to the owner and try to find a mutually acceptable solution. If this proves unsuccessful or you are not comfortable with this approach, contact your local council.
The NSW Government encourages pet owners to desex cats and dogs at an early age. This helps to ensure pets stay healthy, are well behaved and do not have unwanted litters. The Government continues to provide funding to support discounted registration fees for desexed animals.
- The discounted registration fee is available to owners who desex their cat before four (4) months of age. A discounted fee applies to dogs desexed before six (6) months of age.
- Vets can update the NSW Pet Registry when a pet is desexed. Vets can also update the Registry to indicate that a pet should not yet be desexed for medical reasons.
If you cannot afford to have your cat or dog desexed, speak to your vet or an animal welfare organisation, as they may be able to help. Although you do not have to have your cat or dog desexed, unless it is a restricted, declared dangerous or menacing dog, there are benefits in doing so for you and your animal.
Lost and found cats and dogs
My cat or dog is missing - what do I need to do?
If your cat or dog has been missing for more than 72 hours, you must notify your local council within 24 hours. If your dog is a restricted dog or a declared dangerous or menacing dog and it is missing, you must notify your local council within 24 hours of your first noticing that your dog has gone missing.
Your local council will change the status of your cat or dog on the NSW Companion Animals Register to 'missing', which will lock the microchip record until your cat or dog is found or has returned home. This will prevent a person who is claiming to be your cat or dog's owner, for example, where it has been stolen, from transferring ownership.
It is important to confirm with your local council that your contact details are correct when you report your cat or dog as missing, so that you can be contacted when your cat or dog is found.
You should consider contacting local vets and approved animal welfare organisations, such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Animal Welfare League and the Cat Protection Society, to check if a cat or dog with your cat or dog's microchip number or matching your cat or dog's description has been found.
My cat or dog has been found - what do I need to do?
You must notify your local council within 72 hours of your cat or dog being found or returning home after being reported as missing. This enables your local council to unlock the microchip record and update the NSW Companion Animals Register.
I have found a stray dog - what should I do?
If you have found a dog that you believe to be a stray, you should first check to see it is wearing a collar and tag. If it is, use the contact details on the tag to contact the owner.
If it is not wearing a collar and tag, you must by law, take the dog to a council pound, an approved animal welfare organisation or an approved premises (usually a veterinary practice). The dog can then be scanned for a microchip, the owner's contact details obtained from the NSW Companion Animals Register and the owner contacted and re-united with their dog.
While councils are not obliged to collect stray animals, council offer this as a complimentary service for ratepayers if the animal is restrained and/or secured in a yard. Councils are obliged to accept animals that are seized by members of the public and are taken to the council’s holding facility/pound.
I have found a stray cat - what should I do?
Any person can lawfully seize a cat, owned or un-owned, whether in a private or public place, if that action is reasonable and necessary for the protection of any person or animal (other than vermin) from injury or death, providing that action meets the animal welfare requirements of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979.
While councils are not obliged to collect stray animals, Council offers this as a complimentary service for ratepayers if the animal is restrained and resources permit. Council are obliged to accept animals that are seized by members of the public and are taken to the council’s holding facility/pound.
Dogs benefit greatly from the chance to run freely. Under the Companion Animals Act 1998, each council must provide at least one off-leash area where dogs can be exercised off-leash during certain hours. Broken Hill has two off-leash areas, Queen Elizabeth Dog Park and Patton Park.
You, or the person looking after your dog/s, should not be in control of more than 4 dogs at the same time and you, or the person looking after your dog/s, should be capable of controlling the dog/s at all times when in the off-leash area.
Pets in public places
Your dog must, unless it is exempt from this requirement, be under the effective control of a competent person at all times when out in public. This means that it must be on a leash and under the control of someone capable of restraining it. A small child, for example, may not be able to control a large dog. Under these circumstances, an adult capable of restraining the dog, should walk the dog.
A dog is not considered to be under the effective control of a competent person if the person has more than 4 dogs under his or her control.
If you fail to comply with this requirement, you, or if you are not present, the person in control of your dog, if s/he is aged 16 or over, may be liable for a maximum penalty of $1,100 or $11,000 in the case of a restricted dog, dangerous or menacing dog.
This requirement does not apply to a dog:
- in an off-leash area (but only if the total number of dogs of which its owner has control does not exceed 4) or
- a dog engaged in droving, tending or working of stock or
- a dog being exhibited for show purposes or
- a dog participating in an obedience class, trial or exhibition or
- a police dog or
- a corrective services dog or
- a dog secured in a cage or vehicle or tethered to a fixed object or structure.
All dogs, apart from police and corrective service dogs and genuine assistance dogs, are banned from:
- within 10 metres of a children's play area
- within 10 metres of food preparation or consumption areas, except cafes or restaurants whose owners permit dogs (not restricted dogs or declared dangerous dogs) in their outdoor dining areas
- recreation areas where dogs are prohibited
- public bathing areas where dogs are prohibited
- school grounds
- child care centres
- shopping centres where dogs are prohibited
- wildlife protection areas.
Cats are banned from public areas where food is produced or consumed and from wildlife protection areas. There is considerable concern in the community about cats injuring or killing native wildlife.
Although the Companion Animals Act 1998 does not require you to contain your cat on your premises, you should consider doing so for your cat's own safety and for the protection of native wildlife.
You can contain your cat on your premises by keeping it indoors or by building a cat enclosure on your premises.
What is a restricted dog?
In NSW, a restricted dog 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 of the Commonwealth (Perro de Presa Canario or Presa Canario)
- any dog declared by an authorised officer of a council, under division 6 of the Companion Animals Act 1998, to be a restricted dog.
If you own a restricted dog and it attacks or injures a person or an animal (other than vermin) without being provoked, you must report it to your local council within 24 hours of the attack or injury.
Updating your dog or cat's details on the NSW Companion Animals Register
A new service has been created for NSW cat and dog owners. You can update your pet’s details on the Registry (www.petregistry.nsw.gov.au) or over the counter at your local council. The NSW Pet Registry enables lost pets to be reunited with their owners and is now available for cat and dog owners to:
- create an owner profile,
- update their contact details,
- transfer ownership of pets
- report their pet missing, and,
- pay most lifetime registration fees online.
The Pet Registry will also be used by pet breeders, vets and authorised identifiers. Pet breeders, who create a profile on the Pet Register, will be able to have their new litters added straight to their profile. Veterinarians and authorised identifiers are able to enter a pet’s details directly onto the Pet Registry as part of their microchipping service, reducing errors and making data entry more efficient.
For the time being, paper forms are still available for those who cannot use the Pet Registry. People with assistance and working dogs will also need to register their dog in person at council.
For more information any of the above please visit the Office of Local Government website.