Owners responsibilities

Owning a companion animal can be a rewarding experience, however it is also a big responsibility.

You should ensure that your animal is healthy, well nourished, groomed, vaccinated, properly exercised and socialised. A well cared for companion animal can provide great enjoyment, companionship and pleasure.

It is important to remember that as an animal owner you have responsibilities towards other members of the community as well as towards your pet. The Companion Animals Act sets our some of these responsibilities and gives Councils the power to assist and where necessary enforce the law to ensure that owners meet these responsibilities. Under the Act the owner of a Companion Animal must be a person 18 years or over.

Microchipping and registration

All dogs and cats which reside in NSW must be microchipped and lifetime registered on the 'Companion Animals Register'. The Companion Animals Register is a database that stores dog and cat identification and owners' information for all of NSW. Microchipping is important because it helps authorities return lost, hurt or stolen animals to their owners.

Microchipping may be arranged through vet clinics or through any authorised implanter.

Payments for lifetime registration of your companion animal may be lodged through any local Council in NSW or the RSPCA. Dogs and cats are required to be registered by 6 months of age. Registration is a once only payment and covers the life of your animal.

Collar and tag

When dogs are away from home, they must wear a collar with a tag that shows:

  • the animal's name; and
  • the owner's address or telephone number.

Cats born before 1 July 1999 must wear a collar and tag. Cats born after this date must be microchipped. Owners are encouraged to microchip and tag their cat to identify them.

Roaming dogs

Dog owners are responsible for ensuring that their dog does not harm or threaten any person or animal. This means that an owner must contain their dog on their property. When a dog is in a public place, it must be kept on a leash (except in designated off-leash exercise areas).

Roaming cats

Unlike dogs, cats are allowed to roam in public places and onto private property. Cat owners are encouraged to keep their cat in at night to minimise antisocial behaviour and the hunting of other animals.

Animal attacks

You are responsible for ensuring that your animal does not harm or threaten any other person or animal.

Owners of dogs must be able to contain the dog on your property and if your dog is being taken for a walk in a public place that is leashed and under the control of a competent person who is capable of restraining it.

If your dog attacks a person or another animal you will be liable to prosecution by the Courts. Under no circumstance must you encourage your dog to attack. Council or the police may seize a dog that has attacked. Dog owners are responsible for any damage to a person or animal caused by their dog.

Owners of cats are encouraged to train them to stay inside at night to reduce the chance of them fighting or hunting other animals.

The environment

Dog owners must ensure that their dog does not enter eating areas, school or childcare grounds (unless prior permission from the principal is granted), wildlife protection areas or within 10 metres of children's play equipment.

Cat owners must ensure that their cat stays out of restricted areas including food preparation and wildlife protection areas.

Dog droppings

If your dog defecates in a public place you must immediately remove the faeces and properly dispose of them, failing to do so may incur a fine.

Nuisance animals

Bathurst Regional Council promotes responsible pet ownership.

If you own a cat or a dog, you need to consider the impact that it may have on your neighbours should it be causing a nuisance by barking, harassing or roaming. The responsibility for your animal's actions rests with you. The Companion Animals Act, which governs Companion Animals, provides significant penalties for irresponsible pet owners.

If a dog is habitually at large, repeatedly defecates on neighbours property, chases people or vehicles, causes substantial damage to other people's property, or places the health of people or animals at risk, it can be declared a nuisance dog. A Council Ranger may issue a nuisance order, which requires the owner to stop the dog from continuing the nuisance behaviour. A nuisance order is a legal restriction, which remains in force for six months. If during this time the owner fails to stop the dog from causing a nuisance then they are in breach of the order and may incur an on-the-spot fine. Continual breaches of the order may incur subsequent fines or legal proceedings.  A table of dog control categories under the Companion Animals Act is available here.

A cat that roams sits in your garden or on your car does not constitute a nuisance under the Act. Council requires evidence that shows that actual damage is occurring to prove an offence i.e. scratches on the car, damage to the flowerbed etc.

A cat may also be declared a nuisance cat if it persistently makes noise, which unreasonably interferes with the wellbeing of your neighbours, or if it repeatedly damages other people's property. Photographs and documentation of dates, times and the actual nuisance may be required to assist Council in taking appropriate action.

Barking dogs

Barking is one of the ways in which dogs communicate. In some instances constant barking may indicate a problem with a dog's health or happiness. It can also affect the comfort of people living in the vicinity of the dog.

If your neighbour owns a dog that causes a nuisance by barking, you should notify them of your concerns, as they may not be aware that a problem exists. Your neighbour may be happy to do what they can, once they know of the problem.

Council encourages the effective resolution of private disputes/complaints between people through discussion and mediation by and through the Community Justice Centre. These Centres provide mediation services to the community to help people resolve their own disputes. The service is free, confidential, voluntary and easy to use.

If a complaint is lodged with Council, the occupier of the property, where the alleged nuisance animal has been reported, will be contacted and the matter will be handled in accordance with Council's policy. Council may request that the complainant assists in the investigation to document what level of noise nuisance exists.

If you have received a letter from Council, where it has been alleged that your dog is creating a noise nuisance, you may speak to your neighbours to determine what impact, if any, it may be having on them with a view to resolving the matter.

Should the dog continue to make a nuisance by barking then Council may place a nuisance order on the animal.

If Companion Animal Owners ignore the rules, strong penalties including fines and court action may result.