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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 by clicking the icon on the right.

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).   

Click on the topics on the left to find out more about responsible pet ownership.

 

Animal Welfare legislation changes

The NSW Government has undertaken significant consultation on animal welfare over the past few years. It understands the importance of pet dogs and cats to the community and shares the community’s concern to ensure that animals are well looked after throughout their lives. The NSW Government is committed to ensuring pet ownership remains an enjoyable experience while ensuring that pet owners and breeders take responsibility for the welfare and safety of pets. This is what the community expects.

The Government is making it easier and simpler for pet owners and breeders to do the right thing but also making sure we have robust laws, and the means to enforce them, where breeders and owners do the wrong thing.

Under the Companion Animals Act, this means supporting pet owners to micro-chip, register and de-sex their pet at an early age. These key steps are what makes sure that lost pets get home safely, that pets stay healthy and well looked after and that unwanted pets are not surrendered to shelters or become strays. They also help ensure that the infrastructure to support responsible ownership, whether it be the council rangers, off-leash parks, or council shelters, is in place and is properly resourced.

 

The Companion Animals and Other Legislation Amendment Act became law on 6 June 2018. The Act amends the Companion Animals Act 1998 (CA Act) and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (POCTA) and is the first step in the NSW Animal Welfare Action Plan.  The Act will enable the Government to implement its response to the Joint Select Committee on Companion Animal Breeding Practices in NSW

That committee held three public hearings receiving evidence from 42 witnesses as well as 344 written submissions, a petition containing 3000 signatories and more than 2,200 emails and letters. The Act also responds to community feedback received in late 2017 through the review of the Companion Animals Regulation 2008

 

Highlights of the Companion Animals and Other Legislation Amendment Act

Managing dangerous dogs

  • A key feature of the Act is changes to better protect the community from dangerous dogs and make it easier for council rangers and enforcement agencies to take action against problem pets and irresponsible pet owners.
  • As a further disincentive to owning problem dogs and encourage dog owners to manage their behaviour, the Act will introduce $195 annual permits for dogs that are of a restricted breed or declared to be dangerous. 
  • Changes will also allow authorities to define what a ‘serious injury’ is for the purposes of declaring a dog as menacing and imposing control requirements on them. This will also help council officers manage problem dogs and reduce attacks.

 

Annual permits for cats that are not de-sexed

  • De-sexing improves the health and welfare of pets, reducing their risk of disease and health concerns in later life. It also significantly reduces the risk of accidental litters, reducing the burden of unwanted kittens on pounds and shelters.  Importantly, cats that are not de-sexed are also producing strays, causing nuisance and attacking native birds and other wildlife.
  • To encourage pet owners to de-sex their pets early, we have created incentives by offering significantly cheaper lifetime registration fees for de-sexed pets. Unfortunately, there are still a large number of cats that are not de-sexed and a high number of unwanted litters of kittens a being surrendered to pounds and shelters.
  • To reduce this problem, the Act introduces annual permits for cats that are not de-sexed by four months of age, in addition to the current lifetime registration fees.
  • The lifetime registration fee for all cats will also be reduced by $10 from 2019.  This will create a stronger incentive to register and de-sex cats and also encourage the adoption of cats from ponds and shelters.

 

Better data capture and traceability of cats and dogs

  • In addition, the Act will enable OLG to deliver a new and improved Companion Animals Register. This register is a Statewide database of information about cats and dogs and their owners.
  • The new register builds on the success of the NSW Pet Registry and will collect better information about pets and their owners, allowing animals to be tracked throughout their lives.
  • These changes will deliver on the Government’s commitment to improve traceability and transparency of breeding practices.
  • The new registry will be delivered in stages, with the key functions needed to support this Act to be released from later this year.

 

The new registry will

  • Enable puppies and kittens to be traced from birth through ownership, including relevant information about breeders.
  • Promote traceability and the responsible sale of dogs and cats particularly in the growing area of lone sales.
  • Allow prospective pet buyers to check for details about a cat or dog including the animal’s breed, sex, age, whether it is de-sexed and registered and whether a permit is in place. Details that correspond to the breeder identification number may also be available such as the business name of the owner and the breed, sex and age of all the companion animals that are recorded as having been bred by that owner. 
  • Feature improved design and simpler process to make it easier for pet owners to register their pets and to keep records updated, improving chances of having lost animals reunited with their owners.
  • Allow veterinary practices to access information to help return lost pets to their owners.

 

At a glance - proposed changes in the Companion Animals and Other Legislation Amendment Act will enable:

  • A new Companion Animals Register with improved data about cats and dogs and better functionality to make it easier for pet owners to register their pets, allow enforcement agencies to trace puppies and kittens throughout their life, enforce animal welfare standards, and strengthen efforts to reunite lost pets with their owners.
  • Better information to be captured about dog and cat breeders and their animals’ litters to councils and animal welfare enforcement agencies.
  • A new requirement for people selling dogs and cats to display an identifying number in advertisements. The public can search these numbers for free to verify key details about cats and dogs and ensure breeders are subject to the scrutiny of authorities.
  • The introduction of $195 annual permits for dogs of a restricted breed or declared to be dangerous as a disincentive to owning these animals. 
  • Support improved community safety by defining ‘serious injury’ for the purposes of declaring a dog as menacing, and enabling a regulation to say what ‘reasonable precautions’ an owner needs to take to prevent the animal from escaping their property.
  • Increased penalties for failing to allow people with a disability to take assistance animals into a public place, with fines nearly doubling from $880 to $1650.
  • Provide more options for courts to make orders banning a person who has been convicted of animal cruelty from exercising control over other animals.
  • Authorising vets to tattoo the ears of de-sexed female cats and dogs under anaesthetic at the time of de-sexing with the consent of the animal’s owner. This avoids trauma to animals and cost that occurs with unnecessary surgery when it is difficult to tell if an animal is already de-sexed.
  • Introduce annual permits of $80 for owners of female cats not de-sexed by four months of age.
  • Reduce the one-off lifetime registration fee for cats by $10 to encourage higher registration rates and adoption of cats from pounds and shelters.
  • A new penalty for pet owners who repeatedly fail to register their cat or dog. Registration fees fund a range of services and facilities such as council rangers, pounds and shelters, and recreational areas for dogs, as well as the online NSW Pet Registry.
  • Increases to penalty notice amounts commence from 31 August 2018:
  •  

    Act reference

    Summary of offence

    Previous amount

    New amount

    Companion Animals Act 1998

    s.8(3)

    Owner fails to identify a cat or dog from 12 weeks of age and before sale (whichever is earlier).*

    $165

    $180

    s.8(4)

    A person who sells a cat or dog that is not identified from 12 weeks of age/before sale (whichever is earlier).*

    $165

    $180

    s.9(1)

    Owner fails to register an animal by the age required.*

    $275

    $330

    s.10

    Owner fails to register an animal when required to under the regulations.*

    $275

    $305

    s.10B(2)

    Owner fails to register an animal after given a council notice that requires it to be registered.*

    $275

    $305

    s.11(1) [(a), (b),(c) or (d1)]

    Owner fails to notify change of event:*

    • registration information has changed in the last 14 days
    • court order that a dog is or is not menacing or dangerous in last 7 days
    • pet died in the last 28 days,
    • pet reported missing but has been found in the last 72 hours.

    $165

    $180

    s.12(2)

    Owner fails to ensure a dog is wearing a collar and tag as required.*

    $165

    $180

    s.12A(1)

    Owner fails to take all reasonable precautions to prevent the dog from escaping from the property on which it is being kept.

    N/A – no increase

    $220

    s.13(2)

    Owner or person in charge of dog in a public place does not ensure it is under effective control by means of an adequate chain, cord or leash attached to the dog and held by or secured to the person. *

    $220

    $330

    s.15(2)

    Owner or person in charge of dog that is required to be muzzled is not muzzled.

    $165

    $180

    s.16(1)

    Owner or person in charge of dog rushes at, attacks, bites, harasses or chases a person or animal whether or not injury is caused etc.*

    $550

    $1320

    s.29(3)

    Owner of cat fails to ensure it has an acceptable form of identification.

    $110

    $180

    s.30(2)

    Owner or person in charge of a cat fails to ensure it is not in a public place where it is prohibited from being under the legislation.

    $110

    $180

    s.32A(5)

    Owner fails to comply with a nuisance dog order.

    N/A – New

    $275

    s.51(2)

    Owner of a dog that is menacing or dangerous fails to comply with a control requirement.

    $1320

    $1760

    s.52A(1)

    A person who sells or advertises a confirmed or proposed dangerous or menacing dog.

    $1320

    $1760

    s.52B(1)

    A person who accepts ownership of a confirmed or proposed dangerous or menacing dog.

    $1320

    $1760

    s.56(2)

    Owner of a confirmed or proposed restricted dog fails to comply with a control requirement.

    $1320

    $1760

    s.57A(1)

    A person who sells, or advertises the sale of, a restricted dog or proposed restricted dog.

    $1320

    $1760

    s.57B(1)

    A person who accepts ownership of a confirmed or proposed restricted dog.

    $1320

    $1760

    s.57C

    A person who causes or permits a confirmed or proposed restricted dog to breed with any other dog, or, who advertises that such a dog is available for breeding.

    $1320

    $1760

    s.58B(1)

    Owner of a dog, where notice is given under section 58A to the owner, fails to ensure that the dog is under effective control and muzzled at all times when it is away from the property where it is ordinarily kept or register the dog within 7 days after receiving the notice.

    N/A – no increase

    $1320

    s.60(1)

    An occupier or person in charge or control of a building or place open to or used by the public or a person in charge or control of any public transport, without reasonable cause, refuses to permit a person with an assistance animal if the person has a disability and is using the animal bona fide to assist him or her.

    $165

    $330

    s.61(1)

    An occupier or person in charge or control of a building or place open to or used by the public or a person in charge or control of any public transport, imposes a charge on a person with an assistance animal contrary to the section.

    $165

    $330

    s.62(1)

    A person who seizes an animal under the authority of the Act but does not deliver it to either the owner, a council pound or approved premises as soon as possible.

    $550

    $660

    s.69G(2)

    A person who fails to comply with a requirement to state their name and residential address or provides false information.

    $275

    $330

    s.76(1)

    A person must not remove, alter or otherwise interfere with any identification marking on, or microchip implant in an animal.

    $165

    $330

    *This applies to all cats and to dogs other than dogs that are restricted, dangerous or menacing (higher penalty notice amount applies, but these are not changing).

     

    Regulation reference – new

    Regulation reference – previous

    Summary of offence

    Previous penalty notice amount

    New penalty notice amount

    Companion Animals Regulation 2018

    cl.6(1)

    cl.6(1)

    A person implants microchips but is not an authorised identifier, vet or acting under a vet’s supervision.

    $275

    $330

    cl.6(2)

    cl.6(2)

    A person advertises or otherwise represents that he or she is an authorised identifier or vet but is not.

    $165

    $180

    cl.34(3)

    cl.27(3)

    The owner of a dog is guilty of an offence if their dog wears a distinctive collar, as described under cl.34(1), unless the dog is a dangerous, menacing or restricted dog.

    N/A – no increase

    $220

    cl.39(1)

    cl.31(1)

    A person selling or transferring an animal does not notify the change of ownership.

    $165

    $180

    *This applies to all cats and to dogs other than dogs that are restricted, dangerous or menacing (higher penalty notice amount applies, but these are not changing).

     

 

For more information about the Companion Animals and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2018, visit https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/animals-and-livestock/animal-welfare/improving/companion-animals

And

https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/animals-and-livestock/animal-welfare/improving/companion-animals/improving-identification-of-cats-and-dogs-and-promoting-responsible-pet-ownership

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