Domestic Animal Management Plan

Councils across Victoria are required to produce a Domestic Animal Management Plan. The Plan provides the framework within which we identify and address issues relating to the management and wellbeing of pets over a period of four years.

Download the 2019 review of Benalla Rural City Council's Domestic Animal Management Plan.(PDF, 12MB)

What is a Domestic Animal Management Plan? 

Councils across Victoria are required to produce a Domestic Animal Management Plan (Plan). The Plan provides the framework within which we identify and address issues relating to the management and wellbeing of pets over a period of four years.

At Benalla Rural City Council (the Council), we use the Domestic Animal Management Plan 2017-2021 (2019 review) to promote responsible pet ownership and to make decisions that continue to develop how we benefit from and how we value pet ownership. 

The Act only requires the Council to outline how we manage cats and dogs. However, we have considered general animal companionship in this Plan. 

Purpose of the Plan

  • We value pets and the role they play in our community. The purpose of this Plan is to set out how we deliver harmony between pets, people, other animals and the environment. 
  • We balance the needs of pet owners with the needs of the community as a whole. 
  • We value and respect the pets that share people’s lives.
  • We recognise the positive health and wellbeing outcomes that arise from pet ownership. 
  • We encourage more people to enjoy animal companionship.

Legislation

Under Section 68A of the Domestic Animals Act 1994 (the Act), all Councils must produce a Domestic Animal Management Plan. The Act sets out requirements for the Plan. All Councils need to comply with those requirements. Some of these requirements include that the Council shows how it will: 

  • Evaluate how effective their service is
  • Review and amend the Plan annually or more frequently if required
  • Review policies and local laws
  • The Act requires the Council to show how it develops and delivers strategies that: 
  • Promote and encourage responsible pet ownership
  • Ensure people comply with the Act and other relevant legislation, including Benalla Rural City Council’s Community Local Law 2017 (Local Law)
  • Minimise the risk of dog attacks
  • Addresses overpopulation and minimises euthanasia rates
  • Work with domestic animal businesses to comply with legislation
  • Review our animal management services, programs, procedures and policies
  • Ensure the Council’s authorised officers receive appropriate training
  • Identify and address emerging or community-specific issues across Benalla Rural City
  • Ensure ‘declared animals’, as defined by the Act, are managed according to relevant legislation
  • Continue to reunite lost animals with their owners, reducing pound costs and euthanasia rates
  • Minimise the incidence of nuisance, such as wandering or noise
  • Promote the benefits of desexing dogs and cats
  • Outline the management of animals during times of disaster

How we developed the plan

The 2017-2021 Plan sets out how the Council complies with legislation, including the Act and the Council’s Community Local Law 2017

We developed this Plan to meet the needs of our community while fulfilling the requirements of the Act. 

To better understand the needs of our community, we worked with community members and key stakeholders to develop the Plan by forming a Domestic Animal Management Planning Committee. The Committee was made up of community members, Councillors, Council staff members, the RSPCA and the Australian Veterinary Association. Membership on the Committee is reviewed annually to ensure the greatest possible representation from different community stakeholders.  

We published a survey to encourage the community to have their say on specific animal management issues, including: 

  • How we enforce legislation
  • How we educate the community about responsible pet ownership
  • How to maximise pet registration levels
  • Whether we should implement curfews on wandering cats
  • The requirements for dog owners to use a leash in particular areas of the municipality

The Committee carefully considered feedback from the survey. They also considered ideas and contributions from community members, Council officers, key industry and welfare groups and industry experts.

In developing this plan, we considered how previous plans had worked, how the community’s expectations had changed, and how we had performed against the previous plan’s goals and objectives. 

The process of consulting with the community is continuous. Community engagement and consultation will continue to inform the Plan throughout the four-year period. 

Council Planning

The Domestic Animal Management Plan forms part of the overall Council Plan 2017-2021. Formulated in partnership with our community, this plan is structured around five key themes: 

Connected and Vibrant Community

We are committed to building a healthy, active, safe and socially connected community that offers opportunities for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to participate in community life.

Engaging and Accessible Places and Spaces

We will provide community places and spaces to meet the needs of our community and focus on thoughtfully planned growth to maintain and enhance the high amenity and character of our Rural City. 

Sustainable Environment

We will take a proactive and strategic approach to protect our natural environment and safeguard its ability to support our community into the future.

Thriving and Progressive Economy

We will support, promote and encourage the long-term growth, diversification and strengthening of our economy as a key contributor to a healthier and more sustainable community.

High Performing Organisation

We will be a high performing, efficient and innovative organisation based on sound financial management, accountability and good governance to provide best value service to our whole community.

Pets in Benalla Rural City

There were 3,480 dogs and cats registered in Benalla Rural City in the 2018/19 financial year. 

   2017/18   2018/19 
Dogs  2,970  2,829
Cats 614 651
Total 3,584 3,480
Animal registration businesses  5 6

 

While we try to ensure a high proportion of the community’s pets are registered, total pet ownership is likely to be higher than the total number of animals registered. 

Registration

Dogs and cats over three months old must be microchipped and registered with us. Registration tags need to be worn at all times. Registrations are renewed annually in April. 

Cats

Cats must be confined to their property 24 hours a day. This means they must be kept indoors or in a suitable enclosure, such as an outdoor cat run. 

Dogs

When walking your dog in Benalla Rural City, you have to pick up after it. You must always carry a dog waste bag with you when walking your dog. 

Barking dogs are often a cause for complaints from neighbours. Contact us if you have concerns about noise from your neighbour’s dog. We can also provide information about how to make sure your own dog doesn’t cause noise issues. 

Maximum number of animals

In Benalla Rural City, you need to apply for a Multiple Animal Permit if you want to keep more than the maximum number of animals on your property.

Before we grant a Multiple Animal Permit, we check:

  • The welfare of existing animals on the property
  • The possibility of the animals causing noise issues or other complaints
  • That the property has adequate fencing
  • The water supply
  • How the pets will be housed and whether the space can accommodate more pets

We also check to make sure that people with more than the maximum number of animals aren’t running a local animal business. In Victoria there are requirements that restrict breeding, selling and giving away animals.

Residential and rural areas have different laws about the number of animals you can keep. If you’re not sure whether your property is classified as residential or rural, contact us. 

If you live in a rural zone, you can have up to:

Type of animal Maximum number of animals
Dogs 5
Cats 3

 

If you live in a residential zone, you can have up to:

Type of animal Maximum number of animals
Dogs 2
Cats 2
Poultry 8 fowls or 2 turkeys or 2 geese or 2 ducks
Pigs None allowed
Large birds None allowed
Ferrets 6
Guinea Pigs 6
Domestic Birds 10
Pigeons Permit required
Domestic Rabbits 2
Other animal types You're not allowed to keep other animal types without first applying to the Council
Roosters None allowed

 

How we deliver on the plan

Animal Management Services in Benalla Rural City

The Council’s Compliance team delivers animal management services in Benalla Rural City. The team is part of the Development Department. 

Our departments work together to deliver to our many services. The Compliance team is responsible for ensuring the animal management services we deliver comply with legislative requirements.

The Compliance team is made up of one Compliance Coordinator, two Compliance Officers and one Compliance Administration Officer. There are four after-hours Animal Control Officers. These officers respond to animal complaints outside of business hours. 

The Compliance team is also responsible for other local laws and community safety services managed by the Council. This includes managing school crossings and supervisors, enforcing parking and road regulations, managing compliance regulations and local laws and tobacco control inspections. 

Training of authorised officers

We are committed to the safety and development of our team. All team members are trained to ensure they are capable of delivering in their service area. 

We review the training needs of our team annually. This ensures our staff receive the most relevant and up-to-date information. 

Qualification/Training  Frequency Evaluation
Animal handling Every two years (minimum) Course completion
Pound information For a period of two months from induction Successful engagement with the pound
Performance reviews Quarterly All training
Training and information seminars, such as breed identification As offered by Animal Welfare Victoria and other external agencies Course completion
Provide a buddy system where a new officer is paired with an experienced officer During a new staff member's induction period Reviewed quarterly during meetings with the Compliance Coordinator

 

Tools

We use this vehicle to collect stray animals with the hope we can reunite them with their owners. We picked up 536 stray animals in the 2018/19 financial year. 

Compliance van used to reunite stray pets

 

Our Plan for the next four years

The term of this Domestic Animal Management Plan is four years. The 2017-2021 Plan identifies animal management issues and describes:

  • Our objective in dealing with the issue
  • Why the issue is a priority
  • How we currently perform in our management of the issue
  • The actions we plan to take over the life of the Plan.

You can look up all the actions we plan to take in our Consolidated Action Plan in Appendix 2.

Registration and identification

Objective

To increase the proportion of pets registered and microchipped in our Rural City. 

Why is this important?

Best practice animal management programs prioritise the registration and identification of pets. Why is this important? There are a few reasons. 

  • Pets that are registered can be reunited with their owners.
  • Registrations show us how many pets live in our community. Knowing this means we can provide the resources to deliver appropriate animal management services. 
  • Registrations help us to fund animal management services, including responding to complaints, promoting animal welfare and educating the community about the benefits of responsible pet ownership.

How we are performing

  Dogs registered Cats registered
2017/18 2,970 614
2018/19 2,829 651

 

Many factors influence pet ownership so we can only use these figures as a guide. We know that these figures do not accurately reflect the number of cats and dogs in our community but numbers are improving overall. The improvement in cat registrations is significant. It is common for councils across Victoria to report a low proportion of cat registrations. 

Planned actions

We work hard to improve the proportion of registered pets in Benalla Rural City. The work we do now and will continue to do for the life of the Plan includes: 

  • Going door to door to discuss animal registrations. This includes random areas as well as visiting areas where there are concerns about unregistered animals.
  • Placing A-Frame signs in high traffic locations to remind people when registrations are due.

We will also develop a communications plan to educate the community about the benefits of registering pets and the consequences of keeping unregistered pets. By June 2020, we plan to explore the idea of enabling local vets to act as agents of the Council for pet registrations. 

Further information - Pet Exchange Register

Anyone who advertises a dog or cat for sale or giveaway needs a source number from the Pet Exchange Register. This new legislation was introduced on 1 July 2019. It is now an offence to advertise a dog or cat for sale or giveaway without a valid microchip number and a Pet Exchange Register source number. 

The new law is designed to decrease illegal breeding and puppy farm activity. 

You can look up a source number, report an advertising concern or register for a source number at animalwelfare.vic.gov.au

 

Animal population

Objective

To minimise the number of stray, abandoned and unwanted pets and eradicate the population of feral cats.

Why is this important?

Primarily, the benefit of minimising unwanted and abandoned pets is saving lives. It’s a tragic fact that across Victoria, thousands of healthy cats and dogs are euthanased (put to sleep) each year. That’s because there are more pets than people who want them. The animal population is too high. 

This is a significant problem across Victoria. Benalla Rural City is no exception. 

We focus on unowned cats because they wreak havoc on our local environment. Unowned cats are often sick, injured, diseased or starved. They carry diseases that are easily transferrable to humans. Parasites in faecal matter can survive for a long time, especially during warm months. Feral cats have been linked to the decline and extinction of native animals. 

Unfortunately, feral cats cannot be rehomed so they are euthanased by an authorised veterinarian and not impounded at the RSPCA. 

Further information

Definitions

Stray cats were previously owned pets that have been abandoned or lost. 

Feral cats are born on the street and have had little to no human interaction. These cats are usually born to other stray or feral cats.

How we are performing

The majority of animals we collect are returned to their owners. Our primary aim is to see pets reunited with their owners or rehomed. 

Here is some data from the 2018/19 year.

Collected by the Council 536
Returned directly to owner 181
Taken to the RSPCA Wangaratta 216
Cats taken to the RSPCA 135 (62.5% of the 215 pets taken)
Feral cats 139 (25% of the 536 animals collected by the Council were feral cats that could not be rehomed)

 

We reunite more than thirty percent of pets directly with their owners before they get to the RSPCA in Wangaratta. We can do this because our after-hours service can identify ownership. Many pets that are taken to the RSPCA have owners that just need more than 24 hours to collect their pet. The RSPCA can hold pets for up to a week so owners have time to arrange to pay release fees, microchip and register their pet, or fix inadequate fencing. 

Planned actions

Improving the proportion of registrations is considered best practice for animal population control. 

In Benalla Rural City, cats must be confined to their property 24 hours a day. This means cats have to either be indoors or held in suitable enclosures, such as outdoor cat runs. This helps stray cats to be easily identified.  

In addition, the Council works to minimise the population of unwanted and abandoned pets by: 

  • Educating the community about the risk of overpopulation. We share information from Animal Welfare Victoria about the benefits of desexing, registering and adopting pets from animal shelters
  • Ensuring people have access to information about choosing an appropriate pet to minimise the number of unwanted or abandoned pets
  • Running a humane cat-catching program, where we ask people who report a problem with wandering cats to put a cat trap on their property at no cost

We will also work on a communications plan to reduce animal populations and the subsequent harm of overpopulation. 

Pet nuisance

Objective

To improve how the community lives in harmony with pets

Why is this important? 

Pets bring tremendous mental and physical health benefits to their owners. When our people are stronger and healthier, our community is stronger and healthier. 

We support greater pet ownership to harness these benefits. We also recognise that pets can cause issues for neighbours and other residents. Common complaints come from noisy animals, dog waste and wandering animals, such as trespassing cats. 

Let’s look at each of the ways pets cause nuisance in the community separately to see why they are important, how we manage them and what actions we will take in relation to these issues. 

Dog waste in public

Dog waste isn’t just hard on the eyes (and nose), it’s also hazardous to the health of the community. Dog waste can harbour harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites. The risk isn’t just in being picked up by the soles of shoes, these pathogens are washed into waterways. 

If you are walking a dog in Benalla Rural City, you must carry a device to remove dog waste. Council officers have the right to ask you to produce the device on demand. 

How we are performing

We educate the community about responsible pet ownership, including picking up after your pet, through social media and through the Council News, which is delivered to households across the Rural City. 

We perform targeted and random patrols around Lake Benalla walking track and sporting grounds.

We have signage in areas where people often walk their dogs.

We provide dog litter bag dispensers in areas where people often walk their dogs.

Planned actions

We will continue to monitor the locations of complaints about dog waste.

We will develop a communications plan that considers a comprehensive approach to encouraging people to be responsible for their pet’s waste.

Animal noise

Barking dogs are the most common cause of animal noise issues, but squawking birds and other animals may also cause complaints. Excessive barking can disturb neighbours and cause annoyance in the community. Animals create excessive noise for many reasons. For example, dogs often bark when their owner is away. This means the owner may not be aware that their pet is a source of ‘nuisance’. 

It’s important to the Council that our community can live in harmony with pets. Excessive animal noise can disrupt the liveability of a neighbourhood. 

How we are performing

What we do to help people deal with noise complaints from neighbour’s pets is working. This is demonstrated by the numbers of barking dog complaints. 

Year  Number of barking dog complaints
2016/17 42
2017/18 52
2018/19 5

 

The figures have dropped dramatically because of a change of process that directs people to dispute resolution through the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria rather than administrating the process in-house.

When we receive a barking dog complaint, we first try to get neighbours to communicate to make sure everyone is aware of the issue. Negotiations between neighbours are the fastest and most effective way to resolve barking dog complaints. 

If a resolution can’t be reached between neighbours, we ask them to seek assistance from the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria. The Dispute Settlement Centre provides a range of free and confidential dispute resolution services. They have an office at 119-121 Murphy Street Wangaratta and can be reached on 1300 372 888.

Seeking dispute resolution is a more simple and cost effective approach than seeking resolution through formal proceedings, which often involve going to court. 

Planned actions

We will continue to use the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria to help neighbours to resolve noise issues.

We provide techniques and strategies to dog owners with noisy animals. You can see print material that we use for information to help dog owners in Appendix 3.

We recommend people who have ongoing noise issues from their neighbour’s dogs record the date, time and duration of the barking to help navigate them through the next steps if the nuisance continues. 

We have information on our website about how to reduce the risk of your dog causing noise issues in your neighbourhood. We regularly share this information and other information on the Council’s social media channels and in print newsletters. 

Further information
Barking dogs

Noise complaints from barking dogs can be challenging to resolve. 

In many cases, dogs bark when they feel lonely or bored, which may be only when their owner is not at home. This means that owners often don’t realise their dogs are causing a noise issue in their neighbourhood. 

When we receive a barking dog complaint, we first try to get neighbours to communicate to make sure everyone is aware of the issue. Negotiations between neighbours are the fastest and most effective way to resolve barking dog complaints.

 

Wandering animals

By law, you need to have a closed gate and an escape proof fence to prevent your pet from wandering. If you don’t have an adequate fence that secures your pet, we have the right to remove your pets until you can repair your fence. Fences are considered adequate when your pet cannot jump, get under or through them. 

In Benalla Rural City, cats are not allowed to roam from your property. Most cat owners find the easiest way to follow the law is to keep their cat inside or in an appropriate cat enclosure, such as a cat run. We discuss this in detail in the ‘Animal Population’ section of this document. 

Wandering dogs are a serious safety concern. This is discussed in the upcoming section of this document, ‘Dog attacks’. 

Under the Act, cats and dogs aren’t allowed to trespass onto other people’s property. We encourage people who have issues with any nuisance animals, including cats or dogs trespassing onto their property, to contact us at the Council. 

How we are performing

We have a Domestic Animal At Large Procedure, which can be viewed in Appendix 4. 

The number of cat traps residents have loaned has increased from 35 to 65 cages in the last year. 

This indicates that the community is becoming more aware of their options for minimising wandering cat nuisance. 

If you have an issue with cat trespass on your property, we can loan you a humane cat trap at no cost. We collect the trap and any cats that may have been caught in the trap. 

Wandering dogs are treated as a serious safety issue in Benalla Rural City. You can read about our performance in the next section about ‘Dog attacks’. 

Planned actions

We distribute information, such as letters to the resident, in areas where residents have reported wandering cats.

We continue to consult with the community about wandering animals, including how to manage cats that aren’t confined to their property. 

We will develop a communications plan that addresses wandering animal nuisance. 

Further information - wandering dogs

In Benalla Rural City, Council officers have the discretion to return dogs and cats that have escaped their property for no charge, as long as they are registered and microchipped. 

If your pet isn’t registered, having your pet returned may be expensive. Having an unregistered pet is an infringement of the Act. In 2018/19, the fine for having an unregistered pet is $330. In addition, you may also need to pay a release fee of $115 and up to $107 to have your pet registered.

This $552 needs to be paid before you can collect your pet. 

We take wandering dogs seriously as a safety concern. If your dog escapes your property, you will also need to ensure your fences are adequate to contain your dog before you can collect it. 

Dog Attacks

Objective

To decrease the incidence of dog attacks and aggressive dog behaviour in Benalla Rural City.

Why is this important?

We can only live harmoniously with pets when we feel safe to live alongside them. This includes feeling protected from the risk of dog attacks. 

Dogs can react aggressively as a defence to feeling threatened. A number of events or activities can trigger these reactions, including feeling crowded or threatened by other animals or people and loud noises. 

Aggressive dog complaints don’t always come from dangerous pets. Some people aren’t comfortable with dogs and can misinterpret some behaviours as aggression. For example, fear reactions and boisterous play can appear menacing to some people. That’s why it’s important to be conscientious of how your dog is responding to its environment when you’re in public. 

How we are performing

We’re committed to reducing the number of dog attacks in Benalla Rural City, as well as the impact and injuries associated with dog attacks in our community. We address incidents of aggressive dog behaviour quickly and effectively. 

For the past two years, there have been no prosecutions relating to dog attacks in Benalla Rural City. 

Our successful approach to reducing the number of prosecutions includes:

  • Proactive messaging and education
  • Firm but fair investigation when an incident occurs
  • Previous enforcement action against offending dog owners as required

We have responded to incidents where people have reported aggressive dogs. In the 2018 calendar year, five incidents were reported. Four of these were due to inadequate fencing and the other was due to the owner not having control of the dog in public.

The Act specifies additional requirements for certain breeds of dog (restricted breeds) and dogs that are deemed dangerous or menacing. 

Important information

You need to always be able to restrain your dog when appropriate. It is a requirement in Benalla Rural City that you carry a cord, leash or chain when walking your dog.

Dangerous, Menacing and Restricted Breed Dogs

Restricted breed dogs

The Act defines restricted breed dogs as any one of the following breeds:

  • American Pit Bull Terrier (or Pit Bull Terrier)
  • Perro de Prasa Canario (or Presa Canario)
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Fila Brasiliero
  • Dogo Argentino

We recognise that people need to be vigilant with all breeds, not just ‘restricted breed’ dogs. Owners of restricted dog breeds are required by the Act to abide by specific regulations. These include making sure the dog is kept in a secure enclosure, displaying warning signs where the dog is kept and having the dog muzzled and on a lead at all times while it’s in public.

Menacing dogs 

We declare a dog as ‘menacing’ when it has rushed or chased a person or caused a non-serious bite injury to a person or animal.

Rushing is when a dog approaches a person within three metres and displays aggressive behaviour, such as growling, snarling or raising their hackles.

Dangerous dogs

A dog may be declared dangerous when it has caused serious injury or death to a person by biting or attacking. Dogs may be declared dangerous for other reasons, including when a menacing dog has been involved in two infringements or if it has been declared dangerous under different legislation in another state or territory.

Typically someone has their dog declared as menacing or dangerous during formal or legal proceedings in a court. Restricted breed dogs, menacing dogs and dangerous dogs need to be recorded on the Victorian Dangerous Dog Register. 

We have the following data recorded for Benalla Rural City:

Restricted breed dogs 
Menacing dogs 1
Dangerous dogs 4

 

The Act specifies that we manage restricted breed, menacing and dangerous dogs through regular and ongoing inspection. The owners of these types of dogs need to comply with the Act or they may face enforcement action. 

We try to determine the nature and cause of all incidents. We encourage dog owners to train dogs appropriately and make sure dogs are kept on a lead, especially where there is uncertainty in a public environment. These measures help avoid the distress of having to respond to complaints. 

Planned actions

We deliver proactive services designed to continue the successful outcomes of our current program of activities. 

In addition to educating the community about how to be safe around dogs, we aim to:

Investigate dog attacks and dangerous/menacing dog complaints Initial response within 30 minutes
Attend reports of wandering dogs Attend the site within 30 minutes
Inspect properties with restricted breeds, menacing and dangerous dogs Conduct inspections annually
Actively patrol areas for roaming, unsecured and/or unregistered dogs Ongoing

 

We plan on the following actions to continue to reduce the incidence of dog attacks in the community: 

 Collate and record data for reported dog attacks including details of the date, time, location, the dog that has attacked and the victim  Ongoing Evaluate data annually to determine areas requiring specific education/compliance activities.
 Target specific issues, such as inadequate fencing, in awareness and education campaigns while increasing compliance activities in the same area  Annually  Evaluate this activity (and overall objective) by comparing number of dog attacks reported to the Council before and after the campaign.

 

Domestic Animal Businesses

Objective

To assist domestic animal businesses comply with their legislative requirements.

Why is this important?

The Act requires all domestic animal businesses, including pet shops and breeding, training, boarding and shelter establishments, are registered with their local Council. As with pets, businesses need to be registered annually in April. 

If you have three to ten fertile female dogs you must register as a domestic animal business with the Council. We are required to inspect these establishments annually to ensure compliance with the Act and mandatory codes of practice.

How we are performing

The Council has the following domestic animal businesses registered: 

  • One pet shop
  • Two boarding establishments
  • One breeding establishment
  • One shelter
  • The Council’s holding facility

We work closely with each of the domestic animal businesses to ensure they meet their legislative requirements. 

Planned actions

The key priority is to ensure that businesses comply with legislative requirements. 

We do this through: 

  • Responding to concerns from residents about potential unregistered animal businesses
  • Ensuring people with more than the maximum number of animals are not running animal businesses.
  • Commercial Dog Breeders

Breeders with eleven or more fertile female dogs will require commercial dog breeder approval. You need to apply to be a commercial dog breeder by 30 November 2019. This involves registering as a domestic animal business with us before applying to be a commercial dog breeder with Animal Welfare Victoria. From 10 April 2020, breeders with 11–50 fertile female dogs will need approval from the Minister for Agriculture. 

Animal Welfare during emergencies

Objective

To keep pets safe during municipal emergencies.

Why is this important?

We want to make sure animal welfare is considered during an emergency. Our community is increasingly reporting that their pets are members of their families. Therefore, we put plans in place to keep pets safe during emergencies. 

How we are performing

We have developed an Animal Welfare Emergency Management Plan. This forms part of the approved Municipal Emergency Management Plan 2019-2021. The Animal Welfare Emergency Management Plan:

  • Supports the main Municipal Emergency Management Plan
  • Identifies when the Emergency Management Plan should be implemented
  • Coordinates our Compliance team with animal rescue operations and shelters during an emergency
  • Identifies and prioritises the types of animals that might be most at risk during emergencies
  • Secures the assistance of community members with animal handling skills
  • Ensures the Council can continue to deliver core animal management services

Planned actions

The Council’s staff members who have a role in animal welfare during emergencies are trained and prepared to respond in emergencies.

The plan will be reviewed after it has been used to respond to an emergency or in 2021. 

Emerging Issues

Social Media delaying reunification

Social media has changed the way people reunite with lost pets. We support any initiative that helps people reunite with lost pets as quickly as possible. That’s why we have microchip readers in our vehicles. However, people using social media when they lose or find a dog presents a number of challenges, including: 

People not being reunited with their pets as quickly as possible

The inability for the Council to respond in an appropriate way to a wandering animal

The potential for the Council to miss the opportunity to assist owners with animals that frequently wander

Pets being returned to incorrect owners

People being faced with dogs responding aggressively out of fear

The Council not allocating appropriate resources for the number of lost pets.

Our plan is to ensure that the reunification of dogs and cats is considered in an overall communications plan. Communicating directly to social media users through the Council’s Facebook audience allows us to educate people about the risks associated with acting independently of the Council when it comes to lost pets. 

 

 

Appendices

Appendix 1

Resources:


Appendix 2

 

Staff training

Planned actions

When will we do this?

How will we evaluate whether the action is successful?

Evaluate training requirements for staff.

Annually

Staff have annual performance reviews. Training requirements are assessed as part of the review.

Ensure all staff receive basic training requirements for the role, including

Animal handling training at least every two years

Pound information at induction

Quarterly performance reviews

Training and information seminars, such as breed identification, as offered by Animal Welfare Victoria and other external agencies.

Annually

Annual performance reviews provide the platform for evaluating whether staff have received and completed these training requirements.

On-the-job training after induction with an allocated ‘buddy’, an experienced officer who provides real-time, situational advice.

During a new staff member’s probation period

Each staff member provides feedback about the buddy system and their experience in their quarterly review.

 

Pet registrations

Planned actions

When will we do this?

How will we evaluate whether the action is successful?

Go door to door to discuss animal registrations

Annually

Improvement in the total number of dog and cat registrations. Compare the total number of unregistered wandering animals collected by the Compliance team to previous years.

Place A-Frame signs in high traffic locations to remind people when registrations are due

March of every year, for the month preceding registrations being due

Improvement in the total number of dog and cat registrations. Compare the total number of unregistered wandering animals collected by the Compliance team to previous years.

Develop a communications plan that defines how we educate the community the importance of pet registration

Within a year

Review the communciation plan with feedback from the community coupled with any improvements in total registrations

Consider engaging local vet clinics as agents for Council registrations

June 2020

Improvement in the total number of dog and cat registrations. Compare the total number of unregistered wandering animals collected by the Compliance team to previous years.

 

Animal population

Planned actions

When will we do this?

How will we evaluate whether the action is successful?

Develop a communications that defines how we educate the community about the risk of overpopulation and how they can help prevent subsequent issues, such as feral cat problems.

Within a year

Review the number of unregistered stray dogs and cats collected by the Compliance team

Continue to share information from Animal Welfare Victoria about the benefits of desexing, registering and adopting pets from shelters

As available

Review the number of unregistered stray dogs and cats collected by the Compliance team

Manage a humane cat-catching program to support people who report wandering cats at their property

Continually, to be reviewed annually

Evaluate the number of cats caught through the program and how many of those can be returned to their owners

 

Pet Nuisance

Planned actions

When will we do this?

How will we evaluate whether the action is successful?

Pet waste

We will continue to monitor the locations of complaints about dog waste

Ongoing

Reduced overall number of dog waste complaints

We will develop a communications plan that considers a comprehensive approach to encouraging people to be responsible for their pet’s waste

Within a year

Reduced overall number of dog waste complaints

Animal Noise

We will continue to use the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria to help neighbours to resolve noise issues.

Ongoing

Continued minimal barking dog complaints

We provide techniques and strategies to dog owners with noisy animals. You can see print material that we use for information to help dog owners in Appendix 3.

Ongoing

Continued minimal barking dog complaints

We recommend people who have ongoing noise issues from their neighbour’s dogs record the date, time and duration of the barking to help navigate them through the next steps if the nuisance continues.

Ongoing

Continued minimal barking dog complaints

We have information on our website about how to reduce the risk of your dog causing noise issues in your neighbourhood. We regularly share this information and other information on the Council’s social media channels and in print newsletters.

Ongoing

Continued minimal barking dog complaints

Wandering Animals

We distribute information, such as letters to the resident, in areas where residents have reported wandering cats

Ongoing

Reduced overall number of wandering cat complaints

We continue to consult with the community about wandering animals, including how to manage cats that aren’t confined to their property

Ongoing

Reduced overall number of wandering cat complaints

We will develop a communications plan that addresses wandering animal nuisance

Within a year

Reduced overall number of wandering cat complaints

 

Dog attacks

Planned actions

When will we do this?

How will we evaluate whether the action is successful?

Investigate dog attacks and dangerous/menacing dog complaints

Initial response within 30 minutes

Continued minimal incidents of dog attacks and aggressive dog behaviour

Attend reports of dogs wandering at large

Attend the site within 30 minutes

Continued minimal incidents of dog attacks and aggressive dog behaviour

Inspect properties with restricted breeds, menacing and dangerous dogs

Conduct inspections annually

Continued minimal incidents of dog attacks and aggressive dog behaviour

Actively patrol areas for roaming, unsecure and/or unregistered dogs

Ongoing

Continued minimal incidents of dog attacks and aggressive dog behaviour

Collate and record data for reported dog attacks including details of the date, time, location and the details of the attacking dog

Evaluate data annually

Continued minimal incidents of dog attacks and aggressive dog behaviour

Target specific issues, such as inadequate fencing, in awareness and education campaigns while increasing compliance activities

Within a year

Continued minimal incidents of dog attacks and aggressive dog behaviour

 

Domestic Animal Business

Planned actions

When will we do this?

How will we evaluate whether the action is successful?

Responding to concerns from residents about potential unregistered animal businesses

Ongoing

Continued partnership between animal businesses and the Council

Ensuring people with more than the maximum number of animals are not running animal businesses.

Ongoing action with annual evaluation

Evaluate the number of home-based animal businesses

 

Animal welfare during emergencies

Planned actions

When will we do this?

How will we evaluate whether the action is successful?

The Council’s staff members who have a role in animal welfare during emergencies are trained and prepared to respond in emergencies

Annual training and evaluation

Confirm staff members have been trained during annual performance evaluations

Review the Animal Welfare Emergency Management Plan

2021 or after an emergency

Review areas for improvement after an emergency or, in 2021, evaluate the effectiveness of the plan in a review

 

Emerging issues

Planned actions

When will we do this?

How will we evaluate whether the action is successful?

Communicating directly to social media users through the Council’s Facebook audience allows us to educate people about the risks associated with acting independently of the Council when it comes to lost pets

Within a year

Communications plan that considers this and other emerging issues is complete

 

Appendix 3 - Information sheet for owners of barking dogs(PDF, 1MB)

Appendix 4 - Domestic animals at large procedure

Registered Animals

  • First offence - the animal is returned to the owner with a verbal warning. We typically return the animal for free if it's the first time within that calendar year. 
  • Second offence - The owner is required to pay a release fee before we return the animal
  • Third and subsequent offences - The owner is required to pay a release fee before we return the animal. We issue an infringement for animal at large. 

Microchipped but unregistered animals

  • Registration and release fee must be paid prior to the animal being returned to owner. The owner receives an infringement
  • We try to identify the owner through the microchip details. If the details aren't correct or current, we transfer the owner to the pound after 24 hours. If, after one week, the animal's owner hasn't been located, we make an effort to rehome the animal or euthanise at the discretion of the manager or veterinarian. 

Not microchipped and unregistered animals

  • Hold animal in holding facility.
  • Only return animal once the animal is identified by the owner and the animal is booked in for microchipping at a Veterinary Clinic, a release fee and registration has been paid. 
  • Infringement (at large and or unregistered) may be issued to the owner of the animal.
  • If animal is unclaimed after 24 hours, the animal will be transferred to the Council’s pound provider. After eight days, the animal will be subject to processing under Section 2.6 of the Code of Practice.