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Pets guide

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Hilltops Council recognises that many people keep and enjoy the companionship of various kinds of pets.

There are real benefits associated with pet ownership – socially, physically and mentally – however pet ownership can also be a common cause of complaint and conflict. Pet ownership should be considered a privilege and brings with it several responsibilities.

To ensure pets are not a nuisance to the community or other animals, owners are required to make sure they respect their obligations for pet ownership under the Companion Animals Act 1998.

We love your furry friends but please make sure they are registered and tagged so we can easily contact you if they get lost.

For any queries relating to the keeping of pets in the Hilltops Council area, or for animal shelter inquiries, please contact Council on 1300HILLTOPS /1300 445 586.

Responsible companion animal ownership

Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world.  For most of us, our pets are much loved members of our families.

In addition to your responsibilities relating to microchipping and registering your dog or cat, updating your dog or cat’s details on the NSW Companion Animals Register, ensuring that your dog or cat does not threaten or harm a person or animal and ensuring that your dog or cat does not cause a nuisance, you have other responsibilities as a pet owner.

We have listed some points in the Responsible Companion Animal Ownership Brochure (see link below), however more information can be found on the Office of Local Government website.

Hilltops Pound information

Council aims to return as many companion animals to their owners as possible, however, in some circumstances animals are impounded.

If your animal is impounded it will be kept for at least the mandatory time period required under the Companion Animals Act, which is 14 days if the animal is identified and 7 days if there is no identification on the animal.

After that period, all animals that are suitable for re-homing are rehomed through rescue agencies or the Hilltops Pound Facebook page.

Fees are as follows:

  • Release fee: first offence $55.00
  • Release fee: repeat offence $70.00 per event
  • Sale of impounded companion animal: $35.00 per animal
  • Surrender fee: $80.00 per animal
  • Sustenance fee: 16.00 per day
  • Microchip: as per vet per animal

Release fees must be paid before any animal can be released. If the animal is not registered, it must be microchipped and registered as part of the release.

 

Ranger Information

  • Council responds to complaints and actively patrols for animals straying in public places.
  • Rangers do not pick up stray dogs after hours.
  • Rangers can be contacted on 0408 298 413.

Animals can only be released between the hours of 9.00am – 4.00pm Monday to Friday (Public Holidays excluded) by contacting Council on 1300HILLTOPS /1300 445 586 and arranging a mutually convenient time.

Lost and found pets

Lost pets

If your companion animal is missing you should contact Council and provide a description of your pet, where and when it was last seen, whether the animal is microchipped and provide your contact details. Also, please let us know if you have found your pet before we do.

You can check at our Hilltops Pound Services Facebook page for an updated list of unidentified ‘Found’ Animals.

Ensuring your pet is microchipped and the relevant details are up to date on the NSW Pet Register will greatly enhance the possibility of the safe return of your pet.

 

Found Dogs/Cats

If the animal is injured, take it to the nearest vet or contact Council to arrange transport to the vet (Monday to Friday between 8.30am-5.00pm).

If the animal isn’t injured check to see if there is a tag with a phone number. If there isn’t an identification tag available, take to the nearest vet or the Hilltops Council, where its microchip can be scanned and owners contacted to arrange collection.

If you are unable to transport the dog or cat, contact Council to arrange for the dog/cat to be picked up (Monday to Friday between 8.30am-5.00pm).

If you are unable to approach or contain an animal, contact Council. Never put yourself at risk if you are unsure of an animal as even small or seemingly friendly dogs may bite when frightened.

If you have found any other type of animal please contact RSPCA NSWAWL NSW or WIRES.

Dog and Cat registration fees

Identification is essential to be able to reunite owners with lost pets, identify offending animals and to communicate with pet owners.

The Companion Animals Act 1998 requires that all companion animals are:

  • Microchipped at 12 weeks or prior to sale (whichever occurs first), and
  • Registered on the Companion Animals Register by 6 months of age.

Owners are also required to notify certain changes and events such as change of ownership and address, throughout the course of the pets’ life and ultimately when a registered pet passes away.

Lifetime registration fees for cats and dogs are:

  • Animal not desexed: $201.00 per animal.
  • Desexed animal owned by eligible pensioner: $23.00 per animal.
  • Desexed animal with no concession: $55.00 per animal.
  • Animal not desexed kept by recognised breeder for breeding purposes: $55.00 per animal.
  • Working dogs: no microchipping (statutory declaration required) exempt per animal.
  • Assistance animal: exempt per animal.
  • Cats born after 01/07/99: as above per animal.
  • Cats born before 01/07/99: exempt per animal.

Animal welfare and cruelty

Council is involved with many aspects of the keeping of animals throughout the Hilltops Local Government Area, although animal cruelty and welfare is not under Councils authority.

If you suspect or witness cruelty to an animal, you should directly contact one of the animal cruelty enforcement agencies. These agencies are:

RSPCA, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (02) 9770 7555 or 1300 278 358. Animal cruelty complaints can be made online to the RSPCA  here.

OR your local police station (02) 6382 8199 / Police Assistance Line on 131444.

 

What is animal cruelty?

  • Animals which are exposed to extreme heat or cold (e.g. animals left in cars), or which are not adequately sheltered.
  • Animals which are suffering from hunger or thirst.
  • Animals which are hurt or abused.
  • Animals which are left untreated following an injury or illness.
  • Animals which are abandoned or which do not receive regular care.
  • Animals for which their environment is not suited to their needs through size, breed, infirmity etc.
  • Animals which are used to perform an illegal activity, e.g. where dogs or game cocks are encouraged to fight each other.

 

Injured Native Wildlife

WIRES (Wildlife Information and Rescue Service) NSW WIRES Rescue Line: 13 000 WIRES or 13 00 094 737. If you have found a sick, injured or orphaned native animal in NSW and you need urgent rescue assistance, please phone the WIRES Rescue Line and the team will assist you as quickly as possible.

 

Animal welfare-related responsibilities of the animal owner;

  • Always have access to clean/cool water for your pet and provide an appropriate, balanced diet.
  • Ensure your pet’s good health with regular veterinary check-ups, worming, tick and flea treatments.
  • Provide adequate shelter that is suitable for all weather conditions for your pet at all times.
  • Ensure that your pet is well socialised, trained and exercised.
  • If you are not going to breed, we strongly encourage you to have your animals desexed (permanently sterilised) to prevent unwanted litters.
  • Make sure that your pet is looked after when you go away. If you are leaving your pet in a cattery or kennel, make sure that the cattery or kennel complies with the NSW Animal Welfare Code of Practice No 5 – Dogs and Cats in Animal Boarding Establishments.

If you neglect your pet’s basic welfare needs, you may be liable for fines and/or imprisonment under animal welfare and cruelty related legislation, including the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (General) Regulation 2006 and relevant animal welfare codes of practice.

These are administered by the Department of Primary Industries and enforced by NSW Police, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) New South Wales inspectors and Animal Welfare League NSW inspectors.

 

Fines/ Enforcement

Under the NSW Companion Animals Act, 1998 fines can be issued for the following. Each fine is set by the State Debt Recovery Office.

  • Unleashed dog in a public place.
  • Dog not wearing a collar and ID tag in public.
  • Animal not permanently identified/microchipped.
  • Selling an animal not permanently identified.
  • Animal not registered.
  • Dogs that are declared dangerous or restricted.
  • Failure to remove faeces.
  • Not notifying change in registration ID.
  • Dog in prohibited place*.
  • Cat in prohibited place*.
  • Cat not wearing an ID tag.

*Prohibited places include, school/preschool/kindergarten grounds, shopping centres, public-bathing areas, food preparation areas, sporting fields, playgrounds and wildlife protection areas.

Constant roaming of animals, persistent barking, chasing of people, causing damage to other people’s property or placing the health of people or animals at risk are all reasonable offences for a control order to be issued to stop nuisance behaviour, dangerous dogs and menacing dogs.

A control order is in place for 6 months and is a legal restriction. If the owner fails to stop the animal from causing the nuisance, or doesn’t comply with guidelines, the owner is in breach of the order. An on the spot fine for the breach can be given to the owner.

Dogs

Off leash areas

Young provides a non-fenced-off leash area at Jack Howards Park on Whiteman Avenue.

Boorowa provides an off-leash area on the Cowra Rd, the north side of the Boorowa River.

Off-leash areas in Harden are generally all areas outside of the town and village 60 km/h road speed signs. All dogs within the township areas should be on a leash when not on their owner’s property.

In all other parts of the area (including parks and ovals) you must have your pet under effective control by way of a leash.

 

Barking dogs

If your dog is a nuisance barker, here are some worthwhile strategies to attempt:

  • Regular exercise.
  • Socialising your dog with other dogs.
  • Provide chew toys for stimulation.
  • Provide bones.
  • Investigate what sets the dog off.
  • Make your arrivals and departures from the house discreet.
  • Try general training to develop your communication with your dog.
  • Consider that there may be a medical cause.
  • Do not use punishment-oriented training for the problem as it tends to only silence the dog while you are at home.
  • Ensuring your dog has access to the essentials; adequate food, water and shelter.

If it is your neighbour’s dog that is the offender:

  • Let your neighbour know of the problem as they may not be aware.
  • Keep a detailed diary.
  • Try to resolve the dispute by using the Community Justice Centre on 1800 990 777 instead of costly legal processes.

 

Keeping of dogs

If you are a dog owner, you are responsible for controlling your animal to ensure that reasonable conditions within your neighbourhood are maintained.

 

Keeping your dog on your property

As a dog owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that you prevent your dog or dogs from escaping your property. You must take all reasonable precautions to prevent your dog from roaming off your property.

Under section 12A of the Companion Animals Act 1998, it is an offence if you don’t make efforts to prevent your dog from leaving your property.

Council can issue a Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN) if you have not taken reasonable precautions to prevent your dog
from roaming.

 

Effective control

It is also your responsibility to ensure that your dog or dogs are always under effective control when in a public place. This means that your dog should be kept on a leash when off your property.

Under section 13(2) of the Companion Animals Act 1998, it is an offence of the owner of a dog not to be under effective control. Failure to have your dog under effective control while in a public area may result in a Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN).

 

Dog attacks

If your dog rushes at, harasses, chases, bites, attacks, or kills another companion animal or stock, you as the owner, or if someone else oversees the dog at the time, are responsible for the dog’s actions and are guilty of an offence.

Any resulting injury or damage from a dog attack may also result in civil action where the owner of the animals or victim may seek monetary compensation or criminal charges.

Under section 16 of the Companion Animals Act 1998, Council can issue the owner or person in charge of the dog at the time an on the spot PIN. Council also has options to declare your dog or dogs to be a ‘dangerous’ or ‘menacing dog’.

 

Identification

Please remember that all companion animals must be microchipped at 12 weeks of age or at point of sale or exchange (whichever comes first). Registration on the Companion Animals Register is required when your dog is 6 months old.

A dog must have a collar around its neck and attached to the collar must be a tag which shows the name of the dog and the address or telephone number of the owner.

If you fail to have your dog microchipped and registered (and with collar and tag) when required, Council may issue PIN’s to enforce compliance.

Cats

Council encourages cat owners to:

  • Desex your cat to prevent unwanted litters.
  • Keep your cat indoors at night.
  • Use outdoor cat enclosures.
  • Place bells on your cat’s collar to warn wildlife.
  • Identify your cat with a collar, tag and micro-chip as this is a legal requirement.

 

Council encourages the public not to feed feral cats or any cats they do not own themselves.

Cat owners have a responsibility to their cat to ensure it is housed, fed and managed to ensure their health and welfare.

The community often have divided opinions about cats – they can be seen as either a valued pet/friend or as a pest. Irresponsible ownership can not only jeopardise your cat’s safety but it can further tarnish the reputation of the cat when it is simply behaving as a cat does naturally.

This information is designed to help cat owners and the general public become more aware of the ways that we as a community can all work together to manage our companion animal cats in the best possible way.

 

Roaming cats

Cats are known to have no boundaries and traditionally have roamed the neighbourhood for many years. However, there are several benefits to keeping cats indoors, including:

  • Cats do not have any road sense, and although many do cross roads successfully, there is a significant risk of your cat being injured in traffic.
  • Hunting is a natural behaviour for a cat. By keeping your cat inside you can prevent your cat from hunting native wildlife. At least keep your cat inside between dusk and dawn when wildlife is most at risk.
  • Outdoor cats are easily involved in cat fights especially around mating season. Cat fights can cause injuries which need to be treated by a veterinarian, and can also lead to noise complaints.
  • Roaming cats are in danger of contracting health-related viruses which can also result in death.
  • Studies have been conducted that show that indoor cats lead a healthier and longer life than outdoor cats.

 

Identification – microchipping and registration, collars & tags

Please remember that all cats born after July 1999 must be microchipped at 12 weeks of age or at point of sale or exchange (whichever comes first), and registered on the Companion Animals Register by six months of age.

There are some exemptions for cats owned before July 1999, but these cats must still be able to be identified so that any local authority can ascertain the name of the cat and the address or telephone number of the owner of the cat. This could be through a cat collar with a tag, or a microchip.

 

Cats are prohibited in some public places

Cats are prohibited from food preparation and consumption areas in a public place.

 

Desexing your cat

Cats can be desexed as young as eight weeks of age. It is important to desex young cats before they reach sexual maturity. Young females can become pregnant at the age of four months. Desexing male cats before three months of age prevents anti-social behaviour such as urine spraying in and around your house and aggression.

 

Nuisance cats

There is no law prohibiting cats from roaming but cat owners need to be aware that if their cat roams onto private property and causes damage, the person on that property can make a complaint to Council in regard to a nuisance cat if the problem persists. This also relates to any cat that makes a noise that persistently occurs or continues to such a degree or extent that it unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of any person in any other premises.

 

Stray cats

As cats roam, Hilltops Council is careful when requested to deal with ‘stray’ cats as it is often difficult to determine a stray from a pet. If you believe you have a stray cat around your home you should first ensure that it is not owned by one of your neighbours.

Other animals

Horses

It is not recommended to keep horses in residential areas as it states in the regulations that horses should not be kept within 9 meters of a dwelling or residential building.

The standards and regulations for the keeping of horses are available to view online here.

There is also information about keeping horses on the NSW Department of Primary Industries website here.

 

Sheep

Given the rural area, keeping sheep in the Hilltops Local Government Area, even in residential areas can be an attractive idea. But careful consideration before keeping sheep in a residential area should be encouraged.

Keeping animals in urban areas requires consideration by the owners of the impact of animals on their neighbours. They should be kept in a manner which does not:

  • Create unclean or unhealthy conditions for people or the animals;
  • Attract or provide a haven for vermin;
  • Create offensive noise or odours;
  • Cause a drainage or dust nuisance;
  • Create waste or pollution problems;
  • Create an unreasonable annoyance to neighbouring residents;
  • Cause nuisance due to flies, lice, fleas or other pests and parasites.

A Local Government Order can be issued where sheep are being kept inappropriately. Council will investigate complaints about noise, potential health issues, and other problems.

 

Poultry

Council encourages sustainable living and keeping poultry can be an important part of a sustainable household.

If you have the space, some laying hens in the backyard can be a lot of fun, providing you with fresh eggs and a perfect use for kitchen peelings and garden waste. You also end up with some useful fertilizer to pop on the vegetable garden, or add to the compost heap.

 

Requirements & Specifications

There are some regulations setting out the legal requirements for keeping poultry.

Provided your hen house meets the requirement of the Exempt & Complying Development Codes, you will not need to get approval from Council. The full list of specifications can be obtained from Exempt and Complying Development Code

If these guidelines cannot be met, you will need the approval of Council.

There are also a few common-sense aspects to keeping hens as well:

  • Roosters and neighbours don’t mix. At Council, we don’t get many complaints about hens, but we certainly deal with some neighbour disputes about noisy roosters. Our advice if you live in town is: don’t have a rooster.
  • Talk to your neighbours before buying hens and think about them when establishing the hen house. It really is best, unless the neighbours don’t mind, not to have your chooks running up to the boundary fence. The hen house should be more than 3 metres from the boundary.
  • In residential areas, the hen house should be located in the rear yard, house no more than 10 fowls or poultry, be no higher than 3 metres above ground level, and not have a floor area greater than 15 square metres.
  • Some properties in the Council area have private covenants prohibiting the keeping of poultry. You would have to look at your title documents or check with your solicitor to see if you are affected by a private covenant.
  • Keep your hen house clean to discourage vermin and odours, the roof water must be disposed of without causing a nuisance to neighbours.

 

Regulations

The Local Government Act (General) Regulation 2005 schedule 2 relates to poultry and that includes fowls like laying hens, peacocks & bantams as well as poultry other than fowls like ducks, pheasants, turkeys & geese.