Animals and pets
Owning a pet is a rewarding experience, but it's important to know your responsibilities. Find out how to register and microchip your pet, what your responsibilities are in caring for your animal and information about our refuge services.
If you want to take you dog to one of our great dog park around Port Stephens, visit our dog parks page.
Register your pet
The microchipping and lifetime registration scheme helps authorities in returning lost or injured animals to their owners. Once microchipped and registered, your pet is protected for life.
Cats and dogs in NSW must be permanently identified by microchipping by the time the animal is 12 weeks old under the Companion Animals Act.
Once the animal is microchipped, these identification details are entered into the NSW Companion Animal Register. A certificate is then issued to the owner with the identification details. If this has not occurred you can a Vet or Authorised Identifier can complete a Verification of Existing Microchip Form.
To register your pet online, please visit petregistry.nsw.gov.au. You'll need to have your driver’s licence, passport or Medicare card handy to create your Pet Registry account.
A how-to guide can be found here.
Once you have your account set up, you can:
- pay appropriate Lifetime Registration fees
- update your address or phone number details
- transfer ownership to a new owner
- report your pet lost/found
If you have troubles registering your pet through the petregistry.nsw.gov.au. Council can assist you with your registration.
You’ll need to complete a Lifetime Registration Online Form. Please read the first page of this form to ensure you have the relevant information to complete the form eg: Proof of de-sexing paperwork, change of ownership details (if applicable).
It's the pet owner’s responsibility to ensure the details on the NSW Pet Registry are up to date. If you're selling or giving away your cat or dog, you need to transfer the animal to the new owner on the NSW Pet Registry. You must update the NSW Pet Registry if any of the following circumstances occur:
- change of ownership, change of address or any other details within 14 days
- death of animal within 28 days in writing
- missing animal within 96 hours
Penalties may apply if any of the above details are not updated or correct.
- Dog - Desexed (by relevant age) - $69
- Dog - Desexed (eligible pensioner) - $29
- Dog - Desexed (sold by pound/shelter) - $0
- Dog - Not Desexed or Desexed (after relevant age) - $234
- Dog - Not Desexed (not recommended) - $69
- Dog - Not Desexed (not recommended - pensioner) - $27
- Dog - Not Desexed (recognised breeder) - $69
- Dog - Working - $0
- Dog - Service of the State - $0
- Assistance Animal - $0
- Cat - Desexed or not Desexed - $59
- Cat - Desexed (eligible pensioner) - $29
- Cat - Desexed (sold by pound/shelter) - $0
- Cat - Not Desexed (not recommended) - $56
- Cat - Not Desexed (not recommended - pensioner) - $56
- Cat - Not Desexed (recognised breeder) - $56
A late fee is applicable if a registration is not paid for by 28 days after the registration requirement of 6 months of age. - $19
Pet owner responsibilities
- If your dog is in a public place, it must be under the effective control of a competent person by means of an adequate chain or leash. The exceptions to this are: dogs exhibited at a show or engaging in obedience or agility trials or a dog secured in a cage or in an approved off-leash area.
- If your dog is being exercised in an approved off-leash area it must always be under effective control of a competent person.
- You are not permitted to walk more than 4 dogs at any one time in an on-leash or an off-leash area.
- Greyhounds that are registered are exempt from wearing a muzzle in a public place (must be on a lead like any other dog). However, a greyhound must wear a muzzle in a declared off-leash area unless it has completed an approved greyhound re-training program and either:
- the greyhound is wearing an approved collar, or
- the person in charge of the greyhound is in possession of a proof of completion card certifying that the greyhound has successfully completed the program.
- If your dog defecates in a public place, it is an offence not to remove the faeces.
- Dogs are prohibited in children's play areas, food preparation/consumption areas, recreation areas, public bathing areas, school grounds, child care centres, shopping areas and wildlife protection areas.
Dangerous or noisy animals
Nearly all dogs will bark for various reasons and this alone does not make the noise unreasonable or offensive. The noise needs to be at such a level and frequency as to have a detrimental effect on your normal daily activities.
Excessive dog barking can be caused by many things. Some of the most practical and common ways to reduce dogs barking may include:
- reducing the number of dogs kept on the premises according to your specific circumstances
- restricting dogs visibility to the outside of the property, such as solid or opaque fences
- increasing the dog's exercise regime
- undertaking dog training
- toys, bones and other devices to entertain dogs during waking hours
- citronella or similar collars can help train the dog when you are not around to do the training
- some dogs may have anxiety that can only be controlled with prescribed medication.
Often there is no single solution to controlling your dog's barking — it may take a combination of measures to get it to an acceptable level. In some cases, you may need to seek professional help from your local vet or a dog behaviour specialist.
The noise control page outlines what you need to do in order to make a complaint about a noisy animal.
Please call Council immediately about dog attacks on (02) 4988 0255. If you are calling after office hours, please follow the prompts for the on call Ranger.
A dog attack is considered to have occurred if; a dog rushes at, attacks, bites, harasses or chases any person or animal (other than vermin), whether or not any injury is caused to the person or animal.
All dog attacks should be reported to Council. Council officers thoroughly investigate reports of dog attack and this may result in serious consequences. The minimum on the spot fine for a dog attack is $1,320. For a dog that is not under effective control in a public place the fine is $330.
Reporting a dog attack
In order for Rangers to quickly investigate a dog attack, Council require as much information regarding the incident as possible. Including but not limited to the following;
- Date, time and location of incident
- Description of incident – the dog chased, rushed at, harassed and/or bit
- Description of dog/s - breed, size, colour, identifying features
- Address where dog resides – if known
- Dog owner details – if known
If you do not report a dog attack incident nothing can be done to prevent it happening again. This could put others in danger.
A person reporting a dog attack will be requested to make a formal statement to support the allegation of the attack. Council may rely on this statement to proceed with formal action such as the issue of Penalty Infringement Notices and/or Menacing and Dangerous Dog orders. If a formal statement is not made of the incident the action that can be taken by Council is very limited. An incident where no statement is taken means no incident will go on the dogs file.
First statement = ‘first offence’ and action will be taken accordingly.
Council’s general process for a dog attack investigation.
- Council receives a customer request
- Customer request is then sent to the appropriate officer
- Witness statement/s collected and evidence gathered
- Interview conducted with alleged attacking dog’s owner
- Appropriate enforcement action taken (based on evidence/history of dog/severity)
- If appropriate, incident is entered into the NSW Companion Animal Register
- Customer informed that action has been taken and the matter finalised.
The following dogs are considered "restricted dogs" under the Companion Animals Act 1998:
- American pit bull terrier or pit bull terrier
- Japanese tosa
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasileiro
- any other dog of a breed, kind or description whose importation into Australia is prohibited by or under the Customs Act 1901
- any dog declared by a council to be a restricted dog
- any other dog of a breed, kind or description prescribed by state regulations
Council may issue a Notice of Intention to declare a dog to be restricted dog if it is of the opinion that a dog:
- is of a breed or kind of dog referred to from above, OR
- is a cross-breed of any such breed or kind of dog
Owners of dogs declared Dangerous, Menacing or Restricted must obey certain control requirements that may include, but are not limited to;
- The dog must be desexed and lifetime registered
- The dog must be kept in an enclosure, wear a distinctive collar and display ‘Warning Dangerous Dog' signs as prescribed by the Companion Animals Regulation 2018.
- The dog must wear a muzzle and be on leash when outside its enclosure
- The owner must inform Council of any change of address
As part of Council's responsibility under the Companion Animals Act 1998, regular inspections are carried out by Council to ensure that all requirements are being complied with. Heavy penalties apply for non-compliance.
If you have any questions on the above please call Council on (02) 4988 0255.