Responsible pet ownership

Being a responsible pet owner protects you, your pet and other members of the community.

If you own any dogs or cats, you must:

  • Register each dog and cat you own from the age of 12 weeks
  • Keep your dog or cat from straying onto another person’s property
  • Ensure your dog is under control when walking it (preferably on a lead)
  • Keep your dog safely contained to your property at all other times
  • Make sure your dog doesn’t bark persistently
  • Prevent your dog chasing or attacking people or other animals
  • Obey any Council Local Law about having your dog on a leash.

You can be fined for breaking the law relating to dogs and cats. You may also have to pay a release fee if your animals are found wandering and are impounded by Council. Find out how to register your pet

For information on wandering cats, feral cats and cat cages, see Animal complaints.

The Department of Agriculture has online courses for responsible pet ownership. Please see the training sessions relevant to cat owners and dog owners.

Community rights

Secure fences and gates protect your dog from the dangers of roaming, stop it causing a nuisance in your neighbourhood, and ensure your dog does not hurt other animals or people.  While many people keep dogs as a deterrent for unauthorised entry to their property, it is important that people are safe when walking near properties that house dogs.

A straying dog is a concern to neighbours and the community. Owners are liable for any injuries or damage their dog causes.

People in the community have a right to live without interference from other people’s pets. Unaccompanied animals roaming the streets are a risk and all residents have a right to have the animals captured and either taken to the pound or returned to their owners.

When Council finds a roaming pet with a registration tag, the pet will be taken to its registered address. If no-one is home to accept it, attempts will be made to contact the owner and the pet will be taken to the pound to ensure its safety.

Unregistered pets are impounded and scanned for a microchip. If the pet is not microchipped it will be transported to the Ballarat Animal Shelter. If the pet is microchipped, attempts will be made to contact the owner and reunite the pet with its owner as soon as possible. Pound release fees and registration fees must be paid before the animal can be returned to the owner. 

The RSPCA provides advice on how to keep your cat safe and happy at home. Read the RSPCA cat resource(PDF, 1MB).

Off-leash parks

In accordance with Animal Welfare Victoria’s Code of Practice for the Private Keeping of Dogs, dogs should be kept on a leash at all times when off private property unless in a designated off-leash area. The Code of Practice is made under the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986. The Code and its provisions are to be observed by owners, carers and custodians of dogs.

Keeping your dog on a leash when off private property helps to keep your dog safe from traffic and other dogs and helps to ensure the safety of all community members.

Council has designated off-leash parks in Trentham and Clunes, and funding has been allocated to investigate additional off lead parks in the Shire. You can search off-leash areas in our parks and reserves section.

In an off-leash area, all dogs should remain under effective control of the owner (eg the dog should have a collar or harness and the owner should have a suitable leash available as needed, the owner should keep the dog in view at all times, and the dog should respond to recall commands, and the dog should not harass or worry other dogs or people). 

Allowing access

When designing fence layouts to contain your pet, remember you must still provide legal access to your property. This means people should be able to safely approach your front door and utility services representatives should be able to safely access your power, gas and water meter.

Fencing requirements

Having an adequate fence for your dog protects both your dog and your neighbourhood. As a responsible pet owner, it is important to ensure that your fence or dog enclosure is:

  • High enough that your dog cannot jump over
  • Low enough that your dog cannot dig under
  • Strong enough that your dog cannot push it over
  • In good condition so that your dog cannot escape through it
  • Secure enough to ensure the dog cannot attack people or animals through the fence.

Dangerous dogs

Dogs can be declared dangerous by Council if they have caused death or serious injury to a person or animal by biting or attacking.

Dangerous dogs must be reported to Council if moving from another locality.

Read more on dangerous dogs on the Agriculture Victoria website.

Menacing dogs

Dogs can be declared menacing if they cause a non-serious bite to a person or animal, or if they rush at or chase a person.

The owner of a declared menacing dog must comply with requirements, or may find their dog declared dangerous, which has more stringent requirements.

Restricted breed dogs

Restricted breed dogs are defined as dogs that fit the Approved Standard for Restricted Breed Dogs in Victoria.

These may be pure or cross bred :

  • American Pit Bull Terriers (or Pit Bull Terriers)
  • Perro de Presa Canario (or Presa Canario)
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Japanese Tosa (Tosa Inu)
  • Fila Brasileiros.

Restricted breed dogs have not attacked a person or animal or displayed signs of aggression, but they are considered a higher risk to community safety than other breeds of dogs.

You are required by law to declare if your dog is a restricted breed dog.

Failure to do so may result in a fine. For more information, visit the Agriculture Victoria website.

Dispute settlement

The Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria (DSCV) is a free dispute resolution service funded by the Victorian Government. DSCV can help you resolve common neighbourhood disputes involving issues including trees, animals, noise and drainage. Contact details are:

Ballarat

Tel:   (03) 4301 7000 
Visit the Ballarat DSCV website.

Bendigo

Tel:  (03) 4433 3100
Visit the Bendigo DSCV website.

For information and tips on pet ownership, visit Agriculture Victoria website.