Responsible Pet Ownership

child with a dog

Overview

Owning a pet can be very rewarding, and deciding to become a pet owner requires considerable thought and planning. All potential pet owners need to be sure they are ready to take on the responsibility of owning a pet before adding a pet to their family.

Being a responsible pet owner means ensuring your dog or cat is vaccinated, registered, microchipped, trained, socialised, exercised and healthy and does not represent a nuisance to other members of the community.

Owning a pet 

It is important that you know your legal responsibilities and understand what you need to do to meet them. By law you are considered the owner of a dog or cat even if you are only caring for the animal for a short period of time.

The owner as described in the Domestic Animals Act 1994 "in respect of a dog or cat, includes a person who keeps or harbours the animal or has the animal in his or her care for the time being whether the animal is at large or in confinement".

This includes unowned or feral cats, if you are feeding or housing them you are considered by law to be the owner. Therefore you are required by law to microchip and register the animal with Council from 3 months of age. 

Other things to consider before becoming a pet owner:

  • Do you have time to care for the pets needs? eg: daily exercise, grooming needs, obedience training and play
  • Do you live in a suitable location and type of housing for a pet?
  • Do you have adequate space for the pet you are considering?
  • What hours do you work, and will the pet have any company during the day?
  • If renting accommodation, are you permitted to own a pet?
  • Are your fences secure to contain a pet?

 Visit Keeping Multiple Animals to understand Council's local laws in regards to owning pets.

 

Registration, microchipping and desexing

State law in Victoria requires all dogs and cats over three months of age to be microchipped and registered with Council. Your pets microchip is encoded with an identification number which can be read by scanners, please note microchip registration is separate to Council registration.

Existing registrations must be renewed by 10 April each year. Dogs must be microchipped before they can be registered.

Pet Registration is a legal requirement under the Domestic Animals Act 1994, you can be fined for not complying.

There are many additional reasons to register your pet. For further information regarding the benefits of registering you pet, please visit  Agriculture Victoria.

Microchipping and registering your pets greatly improves their chances of being returned to you if they become lost. If you move house, make sure you update your details with Council and also the microchip registry. You will need to contact both separately.

Vaccinations help protect your pets against some of the most common and infectious diseases. Keeping your pet's vaccinations up-to-date is important for their safety and development. Contact your local vet about Vaccinations and your pets.

Desexing your pet reduces the number of unwanted pets, improves the health of individual animals, and reduces problems caused by animals in our community.

Desexing your pet

Many dogs and cats are bred by accident because pet owners do not desex their cat or dog. Thousands of healthy dogs and cats are put to sleep each year because not enough homes can be found for them.

There are many benefits to desexing your dog and cat, they include:

  • Cannot breed and therefore they do not add to the increasing numbers of stray and unwanted pets.
  • Discount on your Council pet registration fees for the life of your animal.
  • Significantly better behavior, which means they are less likely to be a problem to the community.
  • Reduced aggressive and dominant behavior particularly in male dogs. This means they are more manageable and reduces the risk of dog attacks.
  • Less likely to roam from their owner's property.
  • Reduced chance of developing cancers, potentially extending your pet's life.

For more benefits on desexing your dog or cat, please contact your local vet for more information. 

Council desexing voucher scheme

To assist pet owners with the cost involved in desexing, Council offers reduced fee desexing vouchers to Hume residents who hold a concession card. The valid concession cards are:

  • Health Care Card
  • Pension Concession Card
  • DVA Gold Card

To obtain a desexing voucher your dog or cat must be registered with Council. Once your dog or cat is registered, you will need to visit one of Council's Customer Service Offices with your concession card.

The voucher is only valid for one month from the date of issue. When you book your appointment just make sure you let your vet know you have a desexing voucher. 

 

Mobile cat desexing

Council works with the Lost Dogs Home to provide low-cost cat desexing. The Microchipping and Desexing Initiative (MADI) is a fully equipped mobile vet surgery that visits Hume throughout the year, desexing and microchipping cats for only $50 (concessions may also apply).

Go to the Lost Dogs Home website to find out when MADI is going to be in your area next. If there are no upcoming events listed, you can email events@dogshome.com with your name, suburb, contact number and your cat's name, age and sex. You will then be notified when MADI is coming to your area.  

 

 

Keeping multiple animals

There is a limit to how many animals can be kept without a permit within residential properties.

A permit is required by any owner or occupier who:

  • has land of less than 4,000m2 in area
  • is situated in a residential area
  • wants to house more than the prescribed animals in accordance with Council’s General Local Law No.1 – 2013, clause 5.1.

How many animals can I have?

If you live in a residential area and want to have more than the following, you will be required to apply for a permit:

  • Two dogs over three months old
  • Two cats over three months old
  • Five guinea pigs
  • Five rabbits
  • Five ferrets
  • Five head of poultry
  • Six pigeons (unless you are a member of a pigeon racing or similar club approved by Council, in which case the maximum allowed without a permit is 60)
  • 20 other caged birds.

Animals in a flat or a unit 

If you live in a flat or unit you need a permit if you want to have more than the following:

  • One dog over three months old
  • One cat over three months old, or
  • Five other caged birds.

Multiple animal permit conditions

Multiple Animal Permit Conditions:

  • Application must be completed and all supporting documents supplied before your application will be processed.
  • Written consent from the property owner must be obtained before the application will be processed.
  • When issued, the permit applies only to the animals nominated.
  • Where a person applies for a permit, they must ensure that dogs and cats listed on the permit application are desexed before a permit will be considered or granted unless the animal is registered with an applicable association or the animal cannot be desexed due to health reasons verified by a veterinary certificate.
  • Council will notify and consider the views of the owners or occupiers of land adjoining that person’s land, and any other owners or occupiers of land whom Council or an Authorised Officer considers appropriate prior to deciding whether to grant a permit.
  • In the instance Council receives an objection to your application; the applicant must submit a written response addressing concerns.
  • All animals that are subject to General Local Law No.1 – 2013, sub-clause 5.1.1, 5.1.2 or 5.1.3 must be housed in accordance with any applicable Victorian State Government Code of Practice that may exist relevant to the welfare and housing of the particular species of animal’s involved.
  • Permits are subject to the discretion of a Council Authorised Officer and in the event any concerns come to light, Authorised Officers may issue a Temporary Permit until issues are addressed and/or rectified.
  • The permit will be reviewed after the expiry date.
  • If no substantiated complaints have been received by Council, and there has been no breach of the permit conditions, a full permit will be issued.
  • Permits are subject to requirements under the General Local Law No.1 – 2013 and the Domestic Animal’s Act 1994, and all regulations made thereunder.

Multiple Animals Permit Conditions (birds/pigeons)

  • Cages are to be kept in a clean, inoffensive and sanitary condition.
  • Birds are not to cause a nuisance.
  • All feed to be kept in an air tight container so as not to attract rodents.
  • Persons keeping pigeons will not require a Multiple Animal Permit if a member of a pigeon racing or similar club approved by Council (proof of membership required).

Apply for a multiple animal permit

Read Council’s conditions before applying for a permit. 

Apply for a Multiple Animal Annual Permit

The Application Process

1. Council receives your application and required documents.

2. An application fee invoice is generated for $62.00. Payment is required within 10 business days in order for your application to be processed.

3. Once your payment has been processed:

  • an audit is carried out by Council officers to ensure the property is suitable to house more than the normal amount of animals.
  • Council sends a letter to adjoining neighbours asking if they have any objections to the application.
  • Council seeks consent from the property owner (if you are a tenant).

4. Fourteen days is then allocated for any submissions to be received and considered. Council will allow the applicant an opportunity to address and respond in writing to any concerns raised within seven days.

Failing to assist Council in the application process may result in the application being revoked and any excess animals kept on property will need to be removed.

Hardcopy application form

If you are having trouble with the online permit application, you can download a Multiple-Animal-Annual-Permit-Application-2021-2022.pdf(PDF, 348KB) .

You must complete the application and provide all relevant documentation in order for your application to be processed. You can lodge your hardcopy form using the following options:

In person:

Broadmeadows: 1079 Pascoe Vale Road Broadmeadows 3047

Sunbury: 40 Macedon Street Sunbury 3429

Craigieburn: 75-95 Central Park Avenue Craigieburn 3064. Office hours are Monday to Friday 8.00am-5.00pm

By post: Hume City Council, PO Box 119, Dallas 3047

By email: contactus@hume.vic.gov.au

Do I have to register and desex my animals?

All dogs and cats over three months of age must be registered.

In order for a Multiple Animal Annual permit application to be considered, all dogs and cats listed on the permit must be desexed.

Exemption

You may be exempt from desexing pets if you are a member of an applicable animal association or have a certificate from a vet stating that the animal cannot be desexed for health reasons. Victorian applicable organisations are:

Members of applicable organisations are eligible to receive a reduced council registration fee for their pet's annual registration.

 

 

Wandering cats and how to keep cats safe

Cats are highly valued companion pets in thousands of Australian households. Council receives many complaints about cats every year.

What does the Law say about ownership: "An owner in respect of a dog or cat, includes a person who keeps or harbours the animal or has the animal in his or her care for the time being whether the animal is at large or in confinement". This includes feeding stray and feral cats, you will be required to microchip and register these cats to your premises.

Where the owner of a dog or cat is under the age of 18 years, for the purpose of this Act, the parent or guardian of that person is deemed to be the owner.

Prevent your cat from wandering

Wandering cats are vulnerable to disease and attacks from other cats and dogs. Feline Aids, which is ultimately fatal, is transmitted from cat to cat through fighting.

Motor vehicles are also a major hazard for roaming cats.

Cats allowed to roam freely have a greater likelihood of becoming lost, and if not recovered, could join a pack of stray cats. Roaming cats also cause disputes and anxiety between neighbours, by causing dogs to bark, by fighting with other cats or defecating in neighbour's gardens.

 

Confine your cat to your property

To minimise disruption to your neighbour's, always keep your cat confined to your premises and inside at night. Cats that are kept inside generally live much longer than cats that are allowed outside.

Approximately 80% of accidents involving cats occur at night. Confining your cat at night will minimise the risk of injury and prevent it from fighting and wandering onto neighbouring properties.

Importantly, it also ensures your cat cannot kill or injure native wildlife. Contrary to popular belief, cats will hunt wildlife whether they are hungry or not.

Also ensure your cat always wears a bell (or two bells to ring against each other). This will warn wildlife that a cat is approaching. For safety always use a cat collar with elastic, this will allow the collar to come off should your cat get stuck in a tree or on a fence post.

What can I do about nuisance cats?

Not everyone loves cats, especially if the neighbourhood is occupied by many cats. Whether they are owned, semi-owned or stray and feral, cats become a nuisance in several ways. They can:

  • trespass on a neighbour's property and cause damage to garden beds by defecating or create health concerns in children's sandpits;
  • cause undue noise due to fighting with owned or stray cats;
  • call and cry when seeking a mate;
  • spray offensively on front doors, mats and other areas; or
  • attack and kill wildlife.

Under the Domestic Animals Act 1994, it is an offence for a cat to remain on private property without permission and landowners or occupiers may trap cats (both owned and unowned) found trespassing on their property.

For Council to take enforcement action against a cat that is continually trespassing, the cat will need to be trapped and given to Council on more than one occasion. Once it has been established that the same cat is reoffending, Council can issue a Notice of Objection to the cat owner objecting to the presence of that cat being on your property. Customers need to be aware that if a Notice of Objection is issued, that their address will be identified.

If the cat continues to trespass, Council, then may issues an infringement to the cat owner each time it is impounded.

Hume City Council offers a Cat Trapping Program to help deal with stray, unowned and feral nuisance cats. City Laws 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.

 

Wandering dogs 

If your dog is on your property but not securely confined, you are breaking the Law.

A dog of any size or breed can become aggressive when defending it's territory. Even a friendly dog may guard the area on or around it's property- especially when you are not present.

Hume City Council receives numerous complaints daily of dogs wandering at large and dog attacks on people and other animals. Most dog attacks in public places occur on the footpath and road in front of the attacking dog's property.

Confining your dog to your property would prevent up to 80% of dog attacks in public places.

Reasons for confining your dog include:
  • It is a legal requirement for dog owners
  • Prevents your dog from rushing or chasing someone
  • Prevent dog attacks in public places
  • Prevent your dog from wandering, roaming or getting lost
  • Prevent your dog from traffic injuries or fights with other dogs.
 Legal requirements for dog owners

Under the Domestic Animals Act 1994, all dog owners must securely confine dogs to the property. This means your yard must have a closed gate, and an escape-proof fence that your dog can not jump, get under or through.

Legally visitors must also have safe access to your front door, without being stopped by your dog.

If your dog could get through your gates or fencing, you can be fined even if it does not actually leave the property.

Magistrates have the power to require owners of pets that have escaped to carry out works to ensure this does not happen again,. To make sure your dog is properly confined, keep it in the backyard behind a locked gate.

If your dog enters someone else's property and they ask you to stop your dog from doing so, you must take action. If your dog enters someone else's property without permission more than once, it can be seized by City Laws Officers. You will then be sent a "notice of objection" by Council, which starts a formal legal process. If your dog strays again onto the property after this notice, you may be fined.

Legal consequences if your dog rushes at or chases someone

If your dog rushes at or chases someone, you could be fined and your dog could be declared a Menacing dog.

'Rush at' means that a dog has approached a person within 3 metres, displaying aggressive behavior such as:

  • snarling
  • growling
  • barking
  • raising the hackles

If you do not comply with these requirements, your dog could then be declared a 'Dangerous Dog'. Dangerous dogs are declared for a few reasons:

  1. The animal has caused death or serious injury to a person or animal; or
  2. Is a Menacing dog and the owner has been fined twice before for failing to muzzle and keep the dog on a leash:
  3. Has been declared a dangerous dog by another state or territory; and
  4. The owner has been served with two infringement notices for rushing, chasing or non serious bite to another person or animal.

There are very strict controls on the housing, exercise and ownership of dangerous dogs.

The requirements of owning a Menacing or Dangerous dog.

Legal consequences in the event of an attack on a person or other animal

You the owner (or, in certain circumstances, the person in apparent control of the dog at the time of the attack) are liable if your dog attacks a person or animal outside your property, or someone trying to get to your front door. You are also liable if your dog attacks someone who has been invited onto your property.

If the Council seizes your dog due an attack, Council is required to hold your dog until the matter has been heard in the Magistrates Court. The owner will be charged a daily impound rate pending court action.

The Legal penalties for an attack may include:
  • Court Action
  • Fines
  • Damages
  • Declaration of your dog as dangerous
  • your dog may even be put down.

It is easy to prevent most dog attacks in public places, just by making sure your fences are secure and by confining the dogs into your backyard.

For information on what to do if approached by an aggressive dog and how to approach dogs safely please visit  Agriculture Victoria Website - Preventing dog attacks in the community

Cleaning up after your dog

The most common dog complaint received by Council is about dog droppings or dog waste on footpaths and in parks. Each day in Victoria over 90 tonnes of dog waste is produced from over 900,000 dogs.

Dog waste is not only unsightly and smelly, it can also have adverse health and environmental impacts if left on the ground.

As a courtesy in some parks, plastic waste disposal bags are available on specifically marked dog waste bins. Please remember you are also required by law to carry your own supply of waste disposal bags.

A person in charge of a dog in a municipal place or on a road must; not permit the excrement of the dog to remain on or in that municipal place or road and carry a device suitable for the picking up and cleaning up of any excrement that may be deposited by the dog.

Hume City Laws Officers patrol public areas and provide education regarding pets in public places. Our Officers are Authorised to give instructions, ask for owners names and addresses  and issue penalty notices for contravention of the Hume City Council General Local Law NO.1-2013 and the Domestic Animals Act 1994

Walking your dog 

Under Victoria's Domestic Animals Act 1994, dogs in all public areas within the municipality are required to:

  • wear a current registration tag
  • be kept under control by means of a chain, cord or leash which is held by the owner and not more than three metres long (unless in an area that is specifically designated 'dogs prohibited' or 'dogs off leash') and:
  • not threaten, chase, rush or attack any person or animal.

Tips for respecting other people while walking your dog:

  1. Don't let your dog run up to other dogs. You should check with other dog owners before letting your dog approach theirs. Although your dog might be friendly, other dogs can be intimidated by an approaching dog.
  2. Don't let your dog approach people. All people have the right to feel safe. Some people may be allergic to, or scared of dogs (no matter how small and friendly). Never let your dog run up to people.
  3. Protecting our fauna. Never let your dog chase birds or wildlife. Your dog may inadvertently cause damage by trampling through habitat and disturbing feeding or nesting fauna such as turtles, waterbirds, frogs and ground dwelling birds. All Australian native animals are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975 and it is an offence to injure or disturb wildlife.
  4. Control your dog. Always watch your dog and maintain effective control. We encourage the social benefits of meeting friends in parks and open places while your dog plays. However don't forget to watch your dog while you chat.
  5. How many can you walk? While there is no restriction on the number of dogs you can walk at once. If you are walking multiple dogs and can't keep them under effective control, you may receive a fine. We recommend only walking two dogs at a time.
 

Having your dog well trained is important for the safety of your dog, other people and animals. It is important that your dog responds quickly to commands.

Socialising and exercising your dog means getting out and about and leaving home means you are required to comply with the laws and respect other users in the public place.

Off-leash areas

Off Leash Dog Parks in Hume
Important park rules:
  • Dogs must wear a collar
  • Dogs must wear current Council registration tags
  • Dogs must be fully supervised
  • Dogs must be under effective voice control
  • Dogs must be on leash outside the dog parks
  • Maximum of two dogs per person
  • Dogs must be six months or older
  • Dogs must be fully vaccinated
  • Aggressive dogs are not welcome
  • Children under five are not permitted
  • Children under 14 are not allowed to supervise dogs
  • No chokers or spiked collars
  • No toys or rough handling
  • No food in dog parks, training treats excepted
  • The owner must carry a leash, one for each dog under their control.
  • Owners must clean up and place faeces and any other rubbish in the bins provided

Broadmeadows Dog Park is a safe and secure place for people to exercise their dogs. It has a 1.2 meter perimeter fence and a separate fenced area for smaller dogs within the park.

Craigieburn Dog Park is a fully fenced off-leash area which is safe for people to exercise their dogs. It has a perimeter fence, a separate fenced area for smaller dogs within the park.

Sunbury Dog Park is a fully fenced dog park to safely exercise your dog, has an agility course and an area with stones, logs and rocks.

Owners and supervisors of dogs are legally responsible for any injury or damage caused by their dogs.

All other areas within Hume City Council are On Leash areas unless signage states otherwise.  

Neighbouring cats and dogs

From time to time you may come into contact with dogs and cats that live near you or you may live next door to a problematic dog or cat.

In order to make a complaint to Council regarding a dog or cat nuisance, the nuisance must be persistent and unreasonable.

If a neighbour's dog or cat is causing you problems, it is best to talk to your neighbor about the concern. The neighbour may not realise what is happening and may take immediate steps to rectify the issue.

It is also important to have reasonable expectations of normal animal behavior. Do not be too quick to react to isolated incidents- its always best to see if the problem persists.

Dogs and cats on your property

If a dog or cat goes onto your property without your permission on more than one occasion, you can take action. But you should first speak to the owner to discuss your concerns.

Steps you should take first:
  • Make sure your gates, doors and windows are secure
  • Do not leave pet food or other food outside that may attract other people's pets

If the dog or cat continues to come onto your property on more than one occasion without permission, you can contact Council who will collect the dog. If the owner can be identified, Council will check registration of the dog or cat, impound the dog or cat and will issue a 'notice of objection'.

If the dog or cat continues to enter your property they may be fined.

Barking and other forms of nuisance

If a neighbour's dog or cat is causing you nuisance, you can make a complaint to Council. Nuisance can include noise or a dog or cat that injures or endangers the health of a person.

Noise, such as barking will only be considered a nuisance if it is persistent and continues to such an extent that it disrupts your peace, comfort or convenience.

If your neighbour's dog or cat is making a lot of noise or causing another form of nuisance, speak to your neighbour first amicably. If you do not feel comfortable approaching them face to face maybe leave a note in the letterbox, let them know what the problem is and give them the opportunity to rectify the issue. If this does not improve the nuisance then contact Council 9205 2200.

When making a complaint to Council, you will need to:

  • Provide your full name, address and contact number's
  • keep a barking dog diary for a period of time
  • sign a statutory declaration stating the evidence is true and correct
  • be available to provide evidence in Court should the matter proceed.

The following tips may be useful when talking to your neighbour:

  • Be reasonable about animal behavior-all cats like to wander and all dogs bark sometimes.
  • Don't be too quick to react- wait and see if there is really problem before taking action.
  • Discuss your concerns with your neighbour in a friendly way. Many people do not know their animal is being a nuisance.
  • try to find a solution that is acceptable to both of you.
  • There may not be an instant solution, be patient - it takes some time for the neighbour to try different methods to try to assist.

The Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria can also assist with disputes between neighbour's, this is a free service.

 

Vaccinate your rabbit

In March 2017, RHDV1 K5 which is a variant of Calicivirus that causes a fatal haemorrhagic disease in rabbits was released in Australia. It assists in the management of pests (European Rabbit Oryctolagus Cuniculus).

A vaccine (Cylap®) is available, to help protect pet rabbits from the various strains of Calicivirus.

Precautions for rabbit owners

If you own a pet rabbit you should take the following precautions:

  • Prevent direct and indirect contact between domestic and wild rabbits.
  • Avoid cutting grass and feeding it to rabbits if there is the risk of contamination from wild rabbits.
  • Wash hands, with warm soapy water between handling rabbits.
  • Good insect control is also important and will help reduce the risks of introduction of both RHDV and Mymatosis. Insect control could include insect proofing the hutch or keeping pet rabbits indoors.
  • Infected rabbits should be isolated and disposed of in a manner that will minimise environmental contamination.
  • All cages and equipment should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Disinfectants that can be used to decontaminate any equipment include 10 per cent bleach, 10 per cent sodium hydroxide, or parvocide disinfectants.

The vaccine is considered effective as RHDV1 K5 is not a new virus; it is a Korean variant of the existing (Czech) virus already widespread in Australia.

The current vaccine for rabbit calcivirus (Cylap RCD) is not fully protective against RHDDV2. However, there is evidence of some cross protection between type one and type two of the virus. Keeping domestic or pet rabbit vaccinations up to date is recommended to provide the maximum possible protection against this new strain.

Current vaccination recommendations for domestic rabbits

The Australian Veterinary Association recommends regular vaccination. For the RHDV1,1A and RHDV1-K5 viruses annual vaccination is recommended. For the variant that emerged in parts of Australia in 2015 called RHDV2 there is no specific vaccination available in Australia. The Australian Veterinary Association suggests protocols that should be followed in consultation with your local veterinarian

 

Keeping other animals as pets

Council's General Local Law No.1-2013 has limitations on how many animals you can keep without a permit.

Without a permit, a resident of land less than 4,000 square metres in a residential area can keep no more than:

  • Five guinea pigs;
  • Five rabbits;
  • Five ferrets;
  • Five head of poultry (no roosters are permitted);
  • Six pigeons. Unless the owner is a member of a pigeon racing club approved by Council, in which case the maximum number that can be kept is 60; or
  • 20 other caged birds.

    No permit will be issued for the keeping of goats, sheep, pigs, horses or farm animals on any land less than 4,000 square metres.

    If you live in a flat or unit, you will need a permit for more than:

  • Five caged birds.

To find out more visit the Keeping Multiple Animals page, where you can apply for a Multiple Animal Permit.