Responsible pet ownership

Learn about your responsibilities as a dog or cat owner, and pick up some tips to help you make a suitable decision before choosing a new pet.

 

Responsible dog ownership

The Toowoomba region aims to be a dog-friendly region, whilst also ensuring the wellbeing of our community and our animals. As a dog owner, it is important you understand your obligations and responsibilities that apply to keeping dogs in our region. The owner and/or keeper of an animal is responsible for that animal. If the owner is under 18 years old, then that person's parents or guardian are responsible for the dog and are considered the dog's owners.

Dog owner responsibilities

For handy tips and hints on how to care for your dog, please take a look at our SlideShare: The responsible owner's guide to looking after your pet.

We have also provided some additional suggestions: 

  • Care for your animal by providing food, shelter, grooming and exercise
  • Register your dog
  • Microchip your dog in accordance with Queensland government legislation
  • Do not allow your dog to wander or escape from your property
  • Clean up after your dog at home and while in a public place
  • Prevent your dog from frightening or being a nuisance to others
  • Walk your dog on a lead in a public area (except for designated off-leash areas).

Off-leash areas - Dogs need regular exercise to be healthy and to stop them becoming bored. Boredom often leads to anti social behaviour such as digging holes, barking unnecessarily and generally being mischievous. Most dogs need to be taken for a walk or have some other form of exercise at least once a day. We have provided a number of off-leash parks to assist owners with exercising their dogs. Be aware that taking a dog into an off-leash area does not negate a person's responsibilities to provide continuous supervision by a person who is able to control the animal by voice command.

Leashing your dog - When taking your dog for a walk anywhere in public, your dog must be on a leash. The leash should be strong, in good condition, and of a length so the dog is unable to create a nuisance or interfere with other animals or people. The leash must be held securely by a person physically able to control the dog. When on the leash, it is your responsibility to prevent your dog from lunging or rushing at other animals and people. Keeping dogs under effective control by means of a leash, and under constant supervision, is a requirement of Council’s Local Law No. 2 (Animal Management) 2011 and applies to all dogs that are taken onto a public place, with the exception being if the dog is taking part in a recognised obedience training activity.

Obedience training your dog is a good solution to preventing many behavioural problems and will make walking your dog a pleasure rather than a chore. Contact Toowoomba Dog Obedience Club on 07 4633 2241 for information.

Female dogs that are in season are not to be brought into a public place. Unfortunately, exercise in public areas should be put on hold until her season finishes. In season dogs have the potential to create a range of safety issues when taken into public areas. 

Wandering dogs create the potential to become a real danger not only to themselves, but the public as well. A wandering dog runs the risk of being involved in a traffic accident or being declared dangerous if it should put fear into, or worse still, attacks a person or another animal while it is out wandering. Roaming dogs can often cause disputes and anxiety between neighbours by causing other dogs to bark, fighting with other dogs, chasing other domestic and native animals or defecating in neighbouring properties.

Enclosures must be used as a method of containing your dog/s to your property. The enclosure must be suitable for the size and breed of your dog/s and be able to prevent it from escaping your property. Running wires and electronic fencing are not a recognised or suitable sole method of containing your dog/s. 

Shelter - if your dog is an outdoors dog, make sure your animal has warm, protected shelter free from drafts and exposure.

As the owner of a dog please ensure you regularly pick up after your pooch, at least daily, from your property and dispose of it responsibly. You can place it in your wheelie bin as long it appropriately wrapped to make it fly and vermin proof. When out walking your dog in a public place, please remember to carry an appropriate bag for picking up after your dog.

We have received ongoing complaints regarding owners not picking up after their dogs in parks and streets. In response to these community concerns, animal management officers are now covering a greater spread of hours which now covers, where possible, from 6am in the morning until 7pm in the evening. These patrols have been geared to coincide with times owners normally walk their dogs (i.e. before or after work) and to provide a more effective response to community complaints of this nature, with a view to reducing after hours calls for these types of complaints.

Animal management officers will take enforcement action with regard to any detected breaches. During the course of these patrols, officers will also conduct registration checks of dogs and take appropriate action where necessary.

As of 1 July 2009 new State legislation Animal Management (Cats and Dogs) Act 2008, requires owners to ensure all new dogs acquired are microchipped by an authorised implanter in accordance with the Act unless the person has a reasonable excuse. Failure to meet the requirements under the Act in regards to microchipping may result in quite substantial fines being incurred.

If you already owned a dog, and still own the dog, that was older than 12 weeks at the implementation of this legislation, 1 July 2009, you do not have to microchip your dog, although it is recommended.

What must I do if I buy or am given a dog?

  • If the dog is over the age of 8 weeks you must ensure that the dog is microchipped.
  • A certificate and details of the microchip registry company should be provided to you by the person who sold or gave you the animal.
  • If you acquire a dog over the age of 8 weeks that is not microchipped, it becomes your responsibility to have the dog microchipped.
  • It is a requirement under the Act for the owner of a microchipped animal to contact the microchip provider to change details such as a change of address, change of ownership or any change to the status of the animal within 7 days.

What must I do if I sell or give away a dog?

  • You must ensure the dog is microchipped if over the age of 8 weeks by an authorised implanter.
  • Puppies and kittens – as well as older animals – can still be given away, however each animal must be microchipped if they are older than 8 weeks of age.
  • Provide the buyer with number of the microchip and the details of the microchip registry.

Microchipping your dog and having all details current will ensure that if the animal does escape its yard, it will be reunited with its owners as quickly as possible.

Toowoomba Regional Council does not currently provide a service to microchip dogs. Please contact your local veterinarian or RSPCA for this service.

We offer generous discounted registrations for desexed dogs.

Statistics have shown that desexed dogs create far less problems than dogs that are not desexed. Desexed dogs are less likely to develop certain cancers, roam, become involved in fights and display aggressive tendencies in certain situations. By desexing your dog you will also help to prevent the deaths of thousands of puppies and dogs who can not find homes. For these reasons, we strongly recommend and encourage dog owners to desex their dog/s. We do not provide a desexing service for dogs. Contact your local veterinarian for this service. 

The National Desexing Network (NDN) is a nationwide referral system for discounted desexing made available to pet owners in financial need. Head to the National Desexing Network website to find out if you are eligible for assistance and how to apply. National desexing month is held every July and the discounts generally apply to all (unless indicated otherwise).

Although it is not a legal requirement, we are happy for dog owners to attach an additional identification tag with their telephone number displayed as an added identification security for their dog.

                                   

Dogs should not ride unrestrained in the back of trucks or trailers. Dogs should be tethered to a short chain with a swivel to a central anchor point on the floor behind the cabin with the other end of the chain attached to the dog’s collar using another swivel to prevent tangling. When tethered in or on a vehicle the dog must not be able to reach beyond the vehicle extremities.

Whenever taking your dog in a vehicle, make sure it is secured properly. Pets should not ride unrestrained in either the front or back seats of any vehicle. A special harness can be attached to your vehicle’s seat belt, allowing your dog to sit or lie on the seat. These harnesses are available through pet stores, some vet surgeries and the RSPCA and are available in a variety of sizes. 

Regular health checks and worming

Dogs require regular worming for intestinal worms and heartworm. Regular health checks and vaccinations by your local veterinarian will help your dog lead a long and healthy life.

Parvovirus

Parvovirus, also called parvo, is one of the most dangerous infections that dogs can be exposed to. Dogs that are exposed to the virus don’t always survive, even with the best treatment. This disease, plus many others, are easily prevented by vaccinations.

What is parvovirus?

Canine parvovirus infection is a highly infectious virus that attacks the gastrointestinal tract and cardiovascular systems of dogs. The main source of infection is from the faeces of infected dogs. The virus is able to remain in the environment for up to a year after an infected dog has been there. This is why the virus can reoccur, especially in unvaccinated dogs or in dogs where vaccinations have lapsed. 

Signs of infection

Dogs that become infected with the virus will usually become ill within 7-10 days of the initial infection. Symptoms can include the sudden onset of bloody diarrhoea, lethargy, unwillingness to eat and repeated episodes of vomiting. Not all dogs will display all of the symptoms. Parvovirus can affect dogs of all ages, but it is puppies less than five months of age that are the greatest at risk. Puppies are often the most severely affected and the most difficult to treat.

If your dog shows any signs of illness, it is important to take it to your vet immediately.

Prevention

Vaccination is the best method of protecting your dog against parvovirus. Puppies receive a parvovirus vaccination as part of their vaccine regime. Following this, all dogs should receive an annual booster to maintain their protection. Bitches should also be vaccinated prior to mating in order to transfer protective antibodies to the puppies. 

For more information regarding the canine parvovirus, please contact your local veterinarian.

Dogs that have been obedience trained are less likely to cause a nuisance. We offer a registration discount for dogs that have reached an appropriate level of obedience from a certified dog training provider approved by us. Approved training providers are:

  • Toowoomba Dog Obedience Club - Training every Tuesday at Norman Park, corner of Tor St and Hursley R, Toowoomba. Training sessions typically start at 7.30pm and run to 9pm. Membership and booking fees apply. Dogs must be vaccinated against parvovirus, distemper and hepatitis before attending training.

Animal training clubs

Our community information directory (CID) provides a place for all community clubs and associations to advertise their club or interest group. Refer to the CID - animal services category for listings of participating clubs and businesses.

Free online dog ownership training

Part of being a responsible pet owner is understanding that it's up to you to ensure that your pet is well behaved and manageable, both in public environments such as the park or at home.

The online training we have created is interactive, logical and easy to use. It will assist dog owners to develop the skills and knowledge required to ensure responsible dog ownership and to comply with their obligations under the relevant legislation. Upon completion of the program, a training acknowledgement form and certificate can be printed.

 

Responsible cat ownership

Highly adaptable and flexible, cats fit into domestic life easily. They are predators by nature and will go looking for mates, defend territory and hunt wildlife, particularly during the dusk to dawn period. It is during this time that your cat is most active and vulnerable if outside. The following tips will help you protect your cat, minimise any potential disruption to the community and impact on the surrounding environment.

  • Ensure your cat does not cause a nuisance for neighbours and impact wildlife.
  • Identify your cat with a collar and microchip. All cats must be microchipped before being sold or given away.
  • Desex your cat.
  • Provide your cat with enough food, water and exercise.
    • dispose of all faeces and urine in a nuisance-free manner

Cat registration

You do not need to register your cat with us but you must still comply with the number of allowed cats along with the following guidelines.

Wandering cats are vulnerable to disease and attacks by other animals. They are also likely to attack other animals. Even when confined to your property, attach one or more bells to your cat's collar to alert wildlife. Roaming cats can become lost and many are never returned to their owners. Often cats cause disputes and anxiety between neighbours by causing dogs to bark, by fighting with other cats or by defecating in neighbouring gardens. How you prevent your cat from wandering is up to you as long as you keep your cat safe and clean. The RSPCA can provide advice on confining your cat.

Remember: By law you must confine your cat to your property at all times - cats are not allowed to roam.

Protect your cat

To minimise disruption to your neighbours, always keep your cat confined to your property. It is recommended that they are confined inside your house or an enclosure of a night. Cats kept inside generally live much longer than cats that are allowed outside. Around 80% of accidents involving cats occur at night. Confining your cat at night will minimise the risk of injury and prevent it from fighting with other stray cats.

To assist your cat in becoming accustomed to being in an enclosed environment:

  • Make a decision about how you would like to confine your cat, taking into consideration budget and other personal factors. Examples of confinement include cat proofing your yard, building an enclosure or confining your cat inside your house eat way of allowing your cat the best of both worlds. It can still go outside but cannot escape your property.
  • Offer a comfortable sleeping area, kitty litter and water.
  • Provide stimulation for your cat such as a scratching pole, toys or an enclosed run.
  • Cats can easily be trained to go into enclosures by restricting feeding times to when you wish to confine the cat.
  • Ensure your cat has a dry and warm area with good ventilation.   

Cats are quite intelligent and easy to train through repetition, similar to training a dog.

A microchip is a permanent form of electronic identification which can be implanted by a vet. The microchip can be scanned and contains your contact details which are recorded on an animal record database for the life of your pet. This means your pet is permanently identified Australia-wide and can be safely returned to you even if there is no collar and tags. Council does not perform microchipping.

In addition to having your cat microchipped, it is a good idea to have your cat wear a tag with your phone number on it. In the unfortunate event that your cat is lost or is taken to the pound, there is a greater chance your cat will be returned to you.

Whether you have a male or female cat, you should have your cat desexed if you do not intend on breeding. Female cats can become pregnant from as young as five months of age. During the breeding season (Spring to Autumn) your cat will take every opportunity to escape from your property if not desexed to try and find a mate. Unless you're prepared to look after kittens and find a home for them, desex your cat. Contact your local veterinarian to discuss desexing your cat.

You will also be responsible for microchipping any kittens before selling or being given away from 1 July 2009.

The smell of cat faeces and urine can be quite offensive. Ensure that you regularly collect your cat's faeces from your property and dispose of it responsibly. You can place it in the wheelie bin if it is wrapped. Encourage your cats to use kitty litter for urination rather than the house yard. This confines the smell to one spot and the kitty litter can be removed once a day to reduce odour.

It is recommended you do not bury used kitty litter in the garden. Wrap it and place it in a general waste bin.

Just like dogs, cats require regular worming for intestinal worms and heartworm.  Regular health checks and vaccinations by your local veterinarian will ensure your cat leads a healthy long life with you and your family.

 

Choosing a pet

Pets are important members of many of our families. A pet is a very rewarding experience but they are a big responsibility. If you are considering gifting or acquiring a pet, please think very carefully and ensure that both owner and pet are suitably matched. Giving consideration to the commitments of exercise, care and safe keeping.

Pets as presents

Sadly, many pets that are given as gifts will end up at an animal shelter in the aftermath of impulse purchases because people do not understand the responsibilities of looking after the pet.

What works for some families is gifting a collar or a grooming pack as a promise of a pet as a way of introducing the idea of pet ownership. This allows the would-be pet owner to consider the process of the commitment before impacting the life of an animal. The new pet owner can take some time to research what breed or type of pet will best suit their circumstances. The process of choosing a new pet can be fun and rewarding and create a deeper connection between pet and owner.

Holiday care for pets

Remember to make appropriate arrangements for the care of your pets while you are away from home. It is important that pets are regularly checked to ensure they are not suffering, wandering or causing a nuisance in this time when their routine contact with their owners can change. Professional care or boarding may be an option to ensure your pets receive regular interaction.

Taking these precautions and considerations will help to ensure the holiday season is not stressful for you or your pets.

 

Reporting animal cruelty

We do not have any jurisdiction over animal cruelty or complaints about animal welfare. All of these matters need to be raised with Animal Cruelty and Animal Welfare, which is governed by the RSPCA. If you have any concerns regarding animal cruelty or the welfare of an animal please report this to the RSPCA.

RSPCA location: 43 Vanity Street, Toowoomba QLD 4350. Phone 1300 852 188

 

Related links

Lost pets

Washing pets

Visiting dogs

Aggressive dogs

Roaming pets

Request the removal of a deceased animal

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