Choosing and owning a pet
Pet owners have responsibilities to their animal, neighbours and the environment. Ensuring your animal is happy, healthy and is not a nuisance to your neighbours or the broader community are essential.
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
- make sure your dog or cat has another home to go to, or place it with an animal shelter, if you can no longer care for it.
Choosing a pet
Saying yes to a pet means that you are accepting a duty of care for its lifetime.
Before you decide to get a pet, make sure you do some research to find out if getting a pet will be the right fit for you. If you are not ready, the most responsible thing you can do is not have a pet until your circumstances change.
Here are some things to consider that can give you a greater understanding of what type of pet would suit you:
Home and property:
- Is there adequate space?
- Can the pet be securely confined?
- Can you provide adequate shelter?
- Do you have adequate space for the type of pet you are considering?
- Can you set up separate areas for pets and young children (if applicable)?
- If renting accommodation, are you permitted to own a pet?
- How will you care for your pet if your living arrangements change?
- How much time can you and your household devote to a pet?
- If you have young children, will you have time to supervise them with a pet?
- Does a pet fit in with your lifestyle, activities, hobbies, holidays and other priorities?
Teach your children the "dos and don'ts"
- Do approach a dog slowly with the back of your hand extended.
- Do curl your fingers and allow the dog to sniff your hand.
- Do stand still, like a fence post, if approached by a strange dog.
- Do avoid eye contact with the dog.
- Don't approach a strange dog without permission from the owner.
- Don't approach dogs that are sleeping or eating.
- Don't squeal or jump around an unfamiliar dog.
Caring for a pet
- Are you prepared to care for a dog/cat for more than 10 years?
- Does the breed you are considering require particular care methods?
- Can you afford to own a pet with costs such as registration, vaccination, general health care, vet bills, food, grooming, de-sexing, obedience training and boarding?
- Do you have time to care for a pet? eg exercise, grooming, obedience and play
- Who will look after your pet when you're away?
- What hours do you work and will the pet have any company during the day?
- If you are thinking about getting a puppy or a kitten, can you provide care during the day and meals at regular intervals until it is six months of age?
- Can you confine your pet in suitable accommodation for the first three weeks to help it settle into its new home?
- Can you keep your pet away from other animals until after they have received initial vaccinations?
- Are you prepared to confine your pet inside at night (eg to stop cats from wandering and killing wildlife)?
Costs can include:
- microchipping and registration
- vet checks; vaccinations; and worming, tick and flea treatments
- desexing (permanent sterilisation)
- unplanned medical treatment
- pet insurance
- toys, leashes, collars, and name tag
If you decide that a cat or dog would be suitable pet for you and your household, consider rehoming a cat or dog from Council's animal shelter or animal welfare and rescue organisations such as the NSW Animal Welfare League, Many healthy cats and dogs are euthanased each year because suitable homes cannot be found for them.
When you bring your pet home, help it to gradually adjust to you and other members of your household, its new surroundings and its new routine.
Owning a pet
You must register your dog or cat with Council. Penalties apply for failing to register your pets.
Microchipping and registration enables the return of stray animals to their owner. This minimises trauma to the animal and also to the owner.
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 and 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.
Your neighbours can complain if your dog is noisy or disturbs the peace unreasonably.
A Council Ranger 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, Council can prosecute and you may be fined.
Your neighbours are entitled to enjoy their property without your dog or cat roaming around. Roaming cats can kill birds and wildlife, and start fights, and wandering dogs can dig up gardens, chase animals and scare or even attack people.
If a neighbour asks you to stop your dog or cat coming onto their property you must do so. Penalties apply for failure to control your pet.
- It is an offence to allow your dog to wander on its own outside your premises.
- You must ensure confinement to your property during the day and at night (gates must be shut and the dog must be unable to leave the property) except when being exercised on a leash or under effective control.
- Dogs are curious and have a natural instinct to roam. A roaming dog is in danger of being injured by a car or by other dogs.
- Fines can be imposed on the owner of a wandering dog.
- Your cat must also be confined to your property, especially at night.
- Confining your cat will keep it safe from accidents and cat fights, and helps protect native nocturnal wildlife from your cat.
- It is an offence for your cat to wander on private property against the wishes of the owner/occupier.
- Find out more about preventing your cat from wandering.
If your cat or dog has died, you must notify Council within 28 days (or 24 hours in the case of a restricted dog, dangerous or menacing dog) of its death.
Notification can be by telephone or in writing by email or letter to Council.
In the case of a restricted or declared dangerous dog, Council may require you to provide documentary evidence from a veterinary practitioner that your dog has died.
Dog attacks and owner responsibilities
Any dog can attack, even your own dog or one you are familiar with.
- 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.
- 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.
- Teach your children:
- not to put their faces close to a dog's mouth
- not to hug dogs tightly or tease them
- not to pat a strange dog, a dog that is tied up, a dog that has been left in a car or a dog that is eating.
The terms "restricted" "dangerous" and "menacing" have specific legal meanings, and there are certain rules that owners of these dogs must follow. These include:
- The dog must be desexed, microchipped and registered.
- You are required to pay a $195 annual permit, in addition to a one-off lifetime pet registration fee. You can pay for this permit via the NSW Pet Registry website or at Council.
- The dog must not, at any time, be in the sole charge of a person under the age of 18 years.
- At home, the dog must be kept in a certified purpose-built enclosure and warning signs must be displayed on the property.
- The dog must wear a securely fitted muzzle when outside its enclosure (at home or in a public place).
- When outside the enclosure, the dog must wear a distinctive red and yellow striped collar and be walked on a secure chain or lead at all times.
- Council must be notified of the following within 24 hours if the dog:
- has attacked or injured a person or animal
- is lost or missing
- has died
- is being kept at a different address in Eurobodalla Shire
- is being kept outside the Eurobodalla Shire area.
Menacing dogs: Must comply with the same control requirements as dangerous dogs outlined above, with one exception - menacing dogs do not need to be kept in a purpose-built enclosure at home.
Talk to your neighbour first
If you have a genuine problem with your neighbour's pet, start by discussing your concerns with your neighbour.
Approach the topic in a friendly and constructive way. Your neighbour may not realise that their pet is being a nuisance, and may be just as interested as you are to solve the problem. Try to work together to find a mutually acceptable solution.
Make a complaint to Council
If talking to your neighbour doesn't work, you can contact Council. 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 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, for example, 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.
Outside your home you must collect your dog's droppings.
Dog poo 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 and make public places significanlty less enjoyable for community members.
It is your responsibility to carry a plastic bag or other pooper scooper to clean up and dispose of your dog's droppings adequately. You can be fined for not cleaning up after your dog.
You can use our map to find suitable places to exercise your dog. There are also signs at the entry points to beaches and exercise areas to let you know where and when you can take your dog.
Most Eurobodalla beaches and exercise areas are designated as one of these three types of access:
- 24-hour off-leash: dogs allowed off-leash at all times
- Timeshare, which means:
- from 1 May to 31 October: dogs allowed at the designated area at any time.
- from 1 November to 30 April:
- dogs allowed on or off-leash before 9am and after 5pm
- dogs prohibited during the day from 9am to 5pm
- Prohibited: dogs prohibited at all times
Where possible, we prefer to share information with pet owners about their responsibilities rather than imposing fines.
These resources offer more information about your rights and responsibilities:
- Responsibilities for cat and dog owners - a guide for pet owners in Eurobodalla (480 KB)
- NSW Office of Local Government: Responsible pet ownership
- AustLII NSW Consolidated Acts: Companion Animals Act 1998
- RSPCA Australia
- NSW Animal Welfare League.
We can help you
If you have any questions about responsible pet ownership, or feedback to improve this information, please contact Council's Rangers:
- T: 02 4474 1019
- E: Council Rangers