Companion Animals

Companion Animal Law Guide

A Companion Animal Law Guide has been prepared by the Law Society of NSW Young Lawyers. It sets out the legal framework around companion animals and contains useful information for pet owners and other members of the community. The guide is available at http://lawsociety.cld.bz/Companion-Animal-Law-Guide. A copy is also available at the public libraries in the shire.

Barking Dogs

There are many reasons why dogs bark. If your dog barks excessively it is important to identify the cause so appropriate treatment can be sought. Contact your veterinarian, an animal behaviouralist or a dog trainer for assistance. There is also a variety of information on the internet - Google 'barking dog'. Ensure your dog gets regular exercise and has toys and games to keep him or her occupied when home alone.

If your neighbour’s dog is barking we suggest that you approach your neighbour and inform them of the problem that their dog is creating. If you cannot find a mutually acceptable solution to this problem, you may wish to seek the assistance of the Community Justice Centre (CJC) to mediate a solution. The service is free, confidential, easy to use and can be conducted at local venues. Phone 4228 0433 or toll free on 1800 650 987.

Council may also try to help, in which case you should inform us of the problem and the reasons why you believe that the dog is barking. A “Nuisance Animal Complaint Form” is available at Council. After the initial complaint is received and if there is sufficient evidence, we will speak to the owner and assist in rectifying the problem.  A warning letter will be issued to the owner advising them of the problem. If subsequent complaints are received further investigation will occur and the situation will be assessed. We may also talk to other people living in your street to see if they have a problem with the noise.

If we are satisfied that there is a noise problem and it is impacting on the neighbourhood, a Nuisance Dog Order may be served on the owner. The persons complaining will be required to keep a log on the barking events and sign a statutory declaration that the nuisance exists. If the noise nuisance does not improve, Council can issue up to two penalty fines, before taking the matter to court. For this to occur, statutory declarations are required to be submitted by you to the Officer with a record of when and for how long the dog causes a noise nuisance.

This will be used as evidence and you must be willing to attend court as a witness if required. However, in this situation, the court may only issue a fine to the owner and the dog may still remain on the property. Alternatively, you can approach the Chamber Magistrate at your local court and obtain a Noise Abatement Order under Section 52 of the Noise Control Act. This will be issued if it is found that the noise is affecting the occupation of your premises. This Order specifies measure to ensure that the nuisance does not occur again.

Further enquires, contact Council at 02 6941 2555

Cats
Roaming Cat - There are no restrictions on cats roaming other than in prohibited areas such as wildlife areas or food preparation/consumption areas as outlined in the Companion Animals Act. Cats can however be a nuisance if they continue to wander onto other people’s properties.

Stray Cat - There is no definition for stray cat in the Companion Animals Act. However; under the law, if you feed it and create a circumstance of continuity, such as continuing to feed it and it keeps coming to your house, you are considered to be the owner.

 Nuisance Cat - The Companion Animals Act defines nuisance in relation to cats as:

1.    makes a noise that persistently occurs or continues to such a degree or extent that it unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience or any person in any other premises, or

2.    repeatedly damages anything outside the property on which it is ordinarily kept

If an authorised officer of Council is satisfied that a cat is a nuisance, the owner of the cat can be issued with a nuisance order.

Cat attacking - Under Section 32 of the Companion Animals Act a person may lawfully seize a cat if that action is reasonable or necessary for the protection of any person or animal, other than vermin, from injury or death. Any cat seized or trapped must be returned to the owner (if known) or delivered to an authorised officer or to the Tumut Shire Council Animal pound.

Nothing in Section 32 authorises a contravention of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979.

Cat cages are available through Council for problem cats. Call 02 6941 2555 to arrange for a cat cage. (Refundable deposit required)

Council encourages owners to keep their cat indoors and in an enclosure outside.This will keep your cat safe and protect the wildlife. Please click here for more information on responsible cat ownership

Further enquires on 02 6941 2555.

Dangerous Dogs and Restricted Breeds
If you own a restricted breed or a dog declared dangerous and need information on requirements or if you know of someone who owns a restricted breed or dangerous dog and you believe they may not be complying with the requirements please contact us for further information on 02 6941 2518.

Restricted Breeds in NSW are the following breeds or any cross of the following:

- American Pitbull Terrier or Pitbull Terrier

- Japanese Tosa

- Dogo Argentino (Argentinian 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.

More information can be found here: 

http://www.olg.nsw.gov.au/public/dogs-and-cats/information-for-the-community/restricted-dogs

Dog Attacks
Contact Council's Ranger on 02 6941 2547 or the local police immediately with details including:

1.    Date and time and location of the attack

2.    Description of the dog e.g. colour, breed, size

3.    Details of the dog's owner (if possible)

If we can identify the dog and determine where it came from, legal action may be taken.

Dog Defecation
It is an offence not to remove dog faeces on public land. Fines apply.

Amenity, Health & Environment
A person’s overall enjoyment and impression of a public place can be reduced by previous users being inconsiderate.  Dog faeces are associated with the spread of pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria, viruses and parasites to humans. Dog faeces have a high phosphorus level which can pollute waterways and impact on our natural environment. The nutrient imbalance can help to produce algal blooms in waterways.

Further enquires on 02 6941 2555

Missing Dog or Cat
Contact Council on 02 6941 2555 during regular business hours with details including:

1.    Date and time and the location where the animal went missing

2.    Description of the dog or cat e.g. colour, breed, size, name, age, gender

3.    Microchip Number

4.    Your contact details

We will notify our animal management officers. We will also check the NSW Companion Animals Register to ensure your details are up-to-date on the register.

You can also contact the local media, vet clinics and any other outlets in your area which you think may be able to assist you. Under the Companion Animals Act you are required to notify any NSW Council within four days of the dog or cat going missing – this information is then entered onto the NSW Companion Animals Register.

Please also notify Council when you find your animal so the Companion Animals Register can be updated.

Roaming Dogs
Contact Council on 02 6941 2555 during normal business hours and provide details including:

1.    The location of the dog;

2.    A full description of the dog. (e.g. colour, breed, size);

3.    The identity and address of the owner of the dog (if possible).

If we can identify the owner of the roaming dog, the appropriate action will be taken in accordance with the Companion Animals Act.

If we cannot locate the dog or determine the owner, we suggest you contact us the next time you see the dog with as much information as possible.

Stray Dogs
If a dog turns up at your house or follows you home, we will then refer this to the animal management officer who will attend your premises and scan the animal for a microchip. If the owner can be located the animal will be returned home. If there is no identification the animal will be taken to the Animal Shelter. Alternatively, you can take the animal to the Animal Shelter drop box located on Gocup Road opposite the Snowy Works and Services Depot. It is recognised as the central point for collection of stray or abandoned animals in the Tumut Shire and provides the best chance for a dog or cat to be reunited with his/her owner. It is an offence under the Companion Animals Act to keep an animal that does not belong to you.

Surrender Dog or Cat
If you need to surrender your animal, contact Council on 02 6941 2555 during normal business hours.

Livestock
Council treats the issue of livestock roaming on the roads or road verges as an emergency call and responds as soon as the call is received.  If you see livestock wandering freely on roads contact the local police or Council at 02 6941 2547

Domestic Producing Animals (such as chickens)
Although there is no prohibition against owning a couple of chickens, ducks or such in your back yard, if you live in one of the residential townships you must ensure that your chickens etc stay within your property and are not a nuisance to the neighbours with activities such as roosters crowing etc.  It is a good idea to inform your neighbours prior to obtaining these animals and get their permission.

Native Animals and Reptiles
Council does not respond to calls regarding possums, snakes, kangaroos etc as it has no mandate for control or capture of native animals. If you have a native animal issue, contact National Parks and Wildlife (02) 6947 7025 or the Native animal rescue agencies such as WIRES 02) 6949 5999 or SONA 02 6946 2222.

Animal Cruelty Issues
Council does not have a mandate to respond to animal cruelty issues.  Contact the local police or the RSPCA at (02) 6925 5702