Problems with Animals

Overview

If you are experiencing a problem with an animal in Hume City it is important to follow the right steps to seek assistance. 

This includes how to handle problems such as injured wildlife, nuisance dog barking and pests on your property.

Injured wildlife

If you see injured wildlife that needs rescuing please contact Wildlife Victoria immediately on 1300 094 535 or report it using their website.

Deceased animals

If you see a deceased animal on Council land, please contact us on 9205 2200 and we will remove it. We do not remove deceased animals from private property. 

Cat trapping program

We offer residents access to a cat trapping program to help deal with stray, unowned and feral cats. Council officers will not collect any cats or kittens unless they are contained securely and do not pose a risk to the safety of the officer.

Council Cat Trapping Program

Council provides this service free of charge, however should a cat trap be lost, stolen or damaged while in your care a replacement fee will apply to the applicant.

Homemade cat traps and possum traps are illegal. Cats caught in these types of traps will not be accepted and traps may be seized.

Due to Occupational Health and Safety risks, cats presented in traps that do not having a sliding release door will be removed at the City Laws Officers discretion.

Under the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals Act 1986 and various industry codes of practice, the handling and treatment of the cat is the responsibility of the person conducting the trapping.

Apply to participate in Council's Cat Trapping Program

If you are interested in participating in Council's Cat Trapping Program, please read the cat trapping conditions.

You will need to complete the application kit and distribute the advisory letters enclosed to at least eight neighbours (two neighbours on each side of the property, two neighbours at the rear of the property and two neighbours directly opposite the property where the trapping will take place).

The address of these neighbours must be written on the cat trapping application prior to submitting it.

To submit your application, please email contactus@hume.vic.gov.au or post it to:

Hume City Council
PO BOX 119,
Dallas Vic 3047

How do I get the trap?

Council has a limited number of traps available, as soon as a trap becomes available a Council will contact you and arrange a delivery time. It is important that you provide your contact details on the cat trap application.

How long can I keep the trap?

The cat trap will be left with the applicant for a period of no more than one week at a time. Residents requiring cages for a longer period will need to make arrangements with a Council officer and this is subject to availability.

How do I use the cat trap?

When the cat trap is delivered the Council officer will demonstrate how to set the trap if you are unsure.

The cat trap is only to be set after 6pm from Sunday night through until Thursday night unless otherwise directed by the Council officer. Trapping is not to occur prior to 6pm.

Cat traps are not to be set Friday night, Saturday night or prior to a public holiday.

I have a trap and I have caught a cat

You will need to ring Council on 9205 2200 between 8am and 9am Monday to Friday (public holidays excluded) to request a Council officer to attend and collect the cat. Cats will not be collected on weekends, after hours or on public holidays.

Any cats that are trapped between 9am and 6pm may not be collected and any cats trapped during these hours may result in the cat trap being removed.

How do I care for the trapped cat?

You are responsible for the welfare of the cat while it is contained within the trap on your property. This means the trap must be placed in a sheltered area with food and water provided. The trap should be covered to keep the cat calm and should be placed in an area where other animals, particularly dogs, cannot access the trap.

How do I return the cat trap

Please contact Council on 9205 2200 to arrange for a Council officer to attend to collect the trap from your property.

Dog attacks

Council is committed to ensuring the safety of the community. All residents and visitors have the right to enjoy spending time in parks or walking our streets without risk of being attacked or menaced by a dog. It is the responsibility of all dog owners to ensure that their dog is under effective control at all times.

Any dog attack or threatening dog should be reported to Council immediately.

Council operates a 24/7 emergency service which can be reached on 9205 2200.

When you contact us, please provide the following information:

  • time and date of the incident;
  • where it happened;
  • name of the dog owner (if known);
  • address of the dog owner (if known);
  • a description of the dog;
  • a detailed description of the incident;
  • a detailed list of any witnesses; and
  • your contact details (full name, address and contact numbers).

When Council receives a report of a dog attack a City Laws Officer will investigate the incident. If proven, the dog owner may be issued infringements or prosecuted in the Magistrates Court. 

Dangerous dogs

Find out more about keeping dangerous dogs, menacing dogs and restricted breed dogs under the Domestic Animals Act 1994 

Dangerous dogs

Dogs are declared dangerous if they have previously attacked, are used for guarding, or have been trained to attack.

Owners of dangerous dogs must follow strict requirements, including:

  • A dangerous dog warning sign must be displayed at all entrances to the property
  • The dog must be leashed and muzzled when outside the property
  • Must wear a dangerous dog collar
  • Dogs to be kept inside a dwelling or enclosure that it cannot escape from to to prevent injuring visitors to the premises.

The outdoor enclosure or backyard the dog is kept in must:

  • have a weatherproof sleeping area
  • contain locks that have self-closing and self-latching mechanisms on any gates into the enclosure, to be locked when the dog is in the enclosure
  • be constructed and maintained in a manner which prevents the dog from being able to dig or otherwise escape under, over or through the perimeter of the enclosure
  • not be situated on premises in such a manner that people have to pass through the enclosure
  • have a minimum floor area of 10 square meters per declared dangerous dog
  • have a perimeter fence with a minimum height of 1.8 meters.

Menacing dogs

Under the Domestic Animals Act 1994, local councils in Victoria may declare a dog to be a menacing if:

  • if it has rushed at or chased a person, or
  • the dog has caused a non-serious bite injury to a person or animal.

To 'rush at' means the dog has approached a person within three metres and displayed aggressive behaviour including:

  • snarling
  • growling
  • barking, and
  • raising the hackles.

Magistrates can also order Council to declare a dog to be a menacing dog, if the owner has been found guilty in court for offences relating to their dog rushing at or chasing a person.

The owner of a declared menacing dog must comply with requirements to prevent the dog from attacking (or causing serious injury) in future. A menacing dog can be upgraded to a dangerous dog if the owner has been issued with two infringement notices for failing to comply with requirements including leashing or muzzling their dog in public.

The owner of a menacing dog must notify Council within 24 hours if:

  • the dog goes missing
  • the dog rushes at or chases a person
  • the ownership of the dog changes
  • the owner's address changes or the place where the dog is kept changes. If there is a change in municipality, owners must inform both their new and old Council within 24 hours of the change.

Penalties can be imposed on owners for failing to comply with the keeping requirements for a menacing dog. If the owner of the menacing dog is under 18-years of age, the owner will be considered to be their parent or guardian. 

Restricted breed dogs

The Domestic Animals Amendment (Restricted Breed Dogs) Act 2017 came into effect on 30 September 2017.

This Amendment Act amends the Domestic Animals Act 1994 to allow the registration of restricted breed dogs in Victoria. Restricted Breed dogs are defined as dogs that fit the Approved Standard for Restricted Breed Dogs in Victoria (standard). They have not attacked a person or animal or displayed signs of aggression.

Restricted breeds are as follows:

  • Pit Bull Terrier (including cross breeds)
  • Fila Brasileiro
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Perro De Pressa Canario or Presa Canario

The Victorian Government has stated that American Staffordshire Terriers will not be considered a Restricted Breed Dog, if the owner has one of the following certificates stating that the dog is an American Staffordshire Terrier:

  • Pedigree certificate from the Australian National Kennel Council
  • Pedigree certificate from a member body of the Australian National Kennel Council
  • Pedigree certificate from a national breed council registered with the Australian National Kennel Council; or
  • Certificate signed by a veterinary practitioner (note: a microchip or desexing certificate will not be sufficient).

When a dog is declared a restricted breed

Council officers have the power to declare that a dog is a restricted breed.

Within seven days of making a declaration an officer must serve written notice of the declaration on the owner of the dog, either personally or by registered post. The notice will contain information about how owners can apply for a review of the decision, along with the housing and ownership requirements that apply to restricted breed dogs.

Restricted breed dogs need to be kept under the following conditions:

  • The dog must be microchipped and desexed
  • A prescribed restricted breed warning sign must be displayed at all entrances to the property
  • The dog must be leashed and muzzled when outside the property
  • The dog must wear a restricted breed dog collar
  • Dogs to be kept inside a dwelling or an enclosure from it cannot escape from to prevent injury to visitors to the premises.

The owner must also have an outdoor enclosure or backyard that must:

  • have a weatherproof sleeping area;
  • contain self-closing and self-latching locks and mechanisms on any gates into the enclosure, which are kept locked when the dog is in the enclosure;
  • be constructed and maintained in a manner which prevents the dog from being able to dig or otherwise escape under, over or though the perimeter of the enclosure;
  • not be situated on the premises in a way that people have to pass through the enclosure;
  • have a minimum floor area of 10 square meters per restricted breed dog;
  • have a perimeter fence with a minimum height of 1.8 meters;
  • have a minimum width of 1.8 meters;
  • walls fixed to the floor or no more than 50mm from the floor.

In addition, you may be required to use the following construction materials for an outdoor enclosure:

  • 50mm mesh, or weldmesh manufactured from 4mm wire with a maximum spacing of 50mm
  • brick, concrete, timber, iron or similar solid material
  • chain mesh manufactured from 3.15mm wire
  • floor constructed from sealed concrete and graded to a drain for the removal of effluent

The owner of a restricted breed dog must notify Council within 24 hours if:

  • the dog is missing
  • the ownership of the dog changes
  • the owner's address changes
  • the place where the dog is kept changes
  • there is a change in the municipality where the dog is kept - owners must inform both their new and old Council within 24 hours of the change.

A person must not own more than two restricted breed dogs unless that person has a permit to do so from the council of the municipal district in which the dogs are kept.

Transfer of ownership of a restricted breed dog

Declared restricted breed dogs must not be sold, given away or transferred to the ownership of another person.

The exception is when the owner has died the dog may be passed to an immediate family member of the deceased who is over 18 years of age.

Further information may be obtained at Agriculture Victoria on 136 186 or visit the Agriculture Victoria website.

 

Barking dogs

Barking is one of the ways that dogs communicate however excessive barking can be very annoying for neighbours. There are many ways that excessive barking can be managed.

A dog is regarded as a nuisance if it creates a noise, by barking or otherwise, which persistently occurs or continues to such a degree that it unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of any person in surrounding homes.

Why do dogs bark?

Some of the main reasons dogs bark are:

  • Playfulness and excitement
  • Boredom or lack of stimulation, both mental and physical
  • Medical conditions such as an illness or discomfort
  • Danger
  • Lack of training and exercise
  • Inadequate yard space
  • Inadequate shelter from weather conditions e.g. thunder, wind and unusual sounds
  • Not enough human companionship
  • Hunger or thirst
  • Provocation
  • Changes to family structure/separation anxiety that can lead to destructiveness, howling or escaping
  • Movement outside the dog's property

Dogs also bark to alert their owners of trouble, such as someone entering the property or perhaps a fire. Remember, a dog's idea of an intruder may differ to that of the owner. It could include cats, possums, other dogs, or even birds flying across the property.

While it is acceptable for a dog to bark to warn it's owner of an intruder. It is the owner's responsibility to train the dog not to bark at normal occurrences such as possums, cats and birds.

My dog is barking excessively

There are a number of ways to help reduce your dogs excessive barking, some of the ways to do this are:

  • Provide your dog with space to move freely in an enclosed backyard.
  • Ensure your dog has shelter from wind, rain and sunshine.
  • Exercise your dog regularly.
  • Look at ways to help fill your dog's day (e.g. buy a large bone, invest in several safe dog chew toys, bury dog biscuits randomly in your garden, use Kong type toys stuffed with food).
  • Feed your dog sufficiently.
  • Provide clean, fresh water daily.
  • Undertake sufficient training.
  • If a dog has to be chained, place a running chain, and ensure your dog is not left on a fixed chain for long periods.
  • Provide your dog with regular attention so that it does not get lonely.
  • Make sure that you do not reward your dog for barking too much. Don't give the dog attention when it is barking, instead give the dog attention when the dog is quite.
  • If the dog is barking at people and noises on the other side of the fence, move the dog to another part of the yard, or put up a barrier to keep the dog away from the area, or block the view.
  • If the dog barks at regular disturbances such as children walking to and from school or the rubbish trucks, keep the dog inside or in an enclosed area at these times.
  • Attend an accredited dog obedience training facility.
  • Try to exercise your dog before you have to leave, some owners also try to exercise their dog during the middle of the day, for example organize a reputable dog walker as this can help tire out dogs and reduce anxiety
  • When walking your dog on leash, take different routes and visit new places as often as possible so that your dog can experience novel smells and sights.

If you have tried all of the options above but your dog continues to bark excessively, there are several things that you can try:

  • Install a dog door so the dog can go inside and outside.
  • Use an approved anti-barking device.
  • Take the dog to the vet as it may be sick or have an underlying condition.

I would like to make a complaint about a barking dog

If you have a problem with your neighbour's dog barking excessively, you should consider approaching the neighbour amicably in person or by letter to advise them that the dog is causing a nuisance as this usually resolves the issue directly.

The owner of the dog may not be aware their animal is causing a nuisance, especially if the dog is barking when they are not home. Resolving the issue with your neighbour will avoid the need to become involved in any legal processes which can be time consuming and damage the relationship with your neighbour.

You should also consider seeking advice from the Dispute Settlement Centre who provide professional assistance in the mediation of nuisance disputes between neighbours, at no cost.

To lodge a complaint with Council, a seven day barking diary needs to be completed to keep records of barking patterns. To register your complaint, please complete a Barking dog complaint form and send it to Council.

When completing the seven day barking diary, please ensure that is done with as much detail as possible. See an example below.

Day 1

Date: 10/10/2021

Nuisance barking (Constant or intermittent)

How does the noise affect you? (e.g. sleeping, gardening)

Where are you? (Inside or outside)

Start time: 7am

End time: 7.15am

Intermittent

Sleeping

Inside

Start time: 8am

End time: 8.15am

Constant

Cleaning the house

Inside

Start time: 4pm

End time: 4.15pm

Constant

Children playing in backyard

Outside

Start time: 6pm

End time: 6.15pm

Intermittent

Eating dinner

Inside

Pest animals

Wasps

Residents must remove any wasp nests they find on their property.

It is an offence to fail to remove wasp nests and may result in a penalty infringement notice being issued under Council's General Local Law No.1-2013

Rabbits and foxes

The European Rabbit and European Red Fox are both declared an established pest animal under the Catchment and Land protection Act 1994. All landowners are required to control and prevent the spread of wild rabbits and foxes on their land in accordance with the Act.

European Rabbit

The European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is a small mammal native to Spain, North-western Africa and Portugal. Across its home range it is kept at sustainable levels by its many natural predators.

Introduced to Australia in the late 1850's, it was first released near Geelong for hunting.

Rabbits are herbivores and eat a variety of plant resources, including roots, pasture, crops and young tress. On average rabbits can consume up to one-third of their own body weight.

Rabbits burrow and live within complex warren systems where they shelter and breed. Rabbits can breed at any time of the year if food is in good supply, but the main breeding system follows good rainfall during late winter into spring. Rabbits can begin breeding at four months old and have a gestation period of 28 to 30 days. Females generally mate again within an hour of giving birth which can result in five or more litters being produced a year, with up to five young per litter.

Rabbit control needs to be targeted according to the biology of the species. Re-colonization from adjacent areas occurs rapidly in areas where rabbits have been controlled. Therefore collaboration with surrounding landowners is a key factor in the long-term success of rabbit control programs.

Rabbits are a significant pest animal in Hume that have substantial environmental and economic impacts on the community.

If you would like to speak to a Council officer about rabbit control please contact the Rural Environment Officer on 9205 2200.

 

Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus

To combat the threat of rabbits within Australia, the national release of a Korean strain of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus, known as RHDV1 K5 was released at more than 550 sites around Australia in March 2017. Many release sites have reported seeing an observed decline in rabbit numbers. 

European Red Fox

The European Red Fox can inhabit a variety of landscapes. In agricultural and natural landscapes they can cause severe damage by:

  • Predating on livestock especially lambs and chickens
  • Predating on native fauna
  • Transportation of disease including mange, rabies and distemper
  • Transportation of weed seeds

Foxes readily survive and prosper in urban environments as well. The distribution of urban foxes depends on the availability and distribution of suitable shelter and food. In urban environments foxes can be a nuisance by:

  • Attacking poultry and livestock in people's yards
  • Raiding garbage bins scavenging for food
  • Digging holes in lawns while scavenging for food
  • Passing disease to domestic animals

What you can do

  1. Monitor property - by knowing the extent of the problem you then can come up with the best suited plan to give you the best results.
  2. Develop a plan - planning for pest animal control is the most important step in regards to being successful. Best results are achieved when you know what control methods you will use and the best timing of the methods. 
  3. Work together - Pest control is only effective if neighbours work together to achieve a common goal. Greater success is achieved if more landowners are involved. 
  4. Follow-up monitoring - Conducting follow up monitoring after the control program will help determine if the program was a success. if it was not a success you may need to consider modifying your control program. 
  5. Seek advice - If you are unsure where to start with pest animal control please seek advice from Council before commencing a pest animal control program. You can contact Council's Rural Environment Officer on 9205 2200. If you manage a rural property and wish to undertake pest control works, consider applying for financial assistance through Council programs such as the Conserving our Rural Environment grant or the Agriculture Land Use Rebate. 

What Council is doing

Council's pest animal control program aims to reduce the impacts of rabbits on Council-managed land across Hume City. The program combines a number of different control methods to achieve maximum results such as warren fumigation, rabbit-proof fencing, baiting and harbor removal.

Council uses licensed contractors for all rabbit control works on Council land. we encourage landowners to work together, as an area-wide program will be far more successful than individuals working alone at different times.