Draft Domestic Animal Management Plan now available for community feedback

The Draft Domestic Animal Management Plan 2022-2025 is now available for community feedback.

During September we invited the community to share their ideas for how Council can create a harmonious environment for pets, people, other animals and our environment.

The Draft Plan has been prepared to provide a strategic framework for Council's policy direction and action plans related to animal management between 2021-25.

What does the Draft Plan outline?

The Draft Plan outlines programs for the training of authorised officers along with programs, services and strategies to:

  • Ensure that people comply with the Act, the regulations and any related legislation
  • Minimise the risk of attacks by dogs on people and animals
  • Address any over-population and high euthanasia rates for dogs and cats
  • Encourage the registration and identification of dogs and cats
  • Minimise the potential for dogs and cats to create a nuisance
  • Effectively identify all dangerous dogs, menacing dogs and restricted breed dogs in that district and to ensure that those dogs are kept in compliance with this Act and the regulations
  • Provide for the review of existing orders made under this Act and local laws that relate to the Council's municipal district with a view to determining whether further orders or local laws dealing with the management of dogs and cats in the municipal district are desirable
  • Provide for the review of any other matters related to the management of dogs and cats in the Council's municipal district that it thinks necessary
  • Provide for the periodic evaluation of any program, service, strategy or review outlined under the Draft Plan.

What you said

More than 75 residents took the time to contribute with the key themes being:

• Euthanasia rates are important

• There is a need for a fenced off dog park to reduce dog attacks, promote responsible ownership and increase positive animal socialisation

• Only 52% of respondents considered cats a problem, however many expressed the need for a cat curfew.

Feedback highlights

Community feedback has been used to develop the Draft Plan – the highlights are:

  • It details our Strategy to improve our service relating to animal management and regulation
  • It celebrates partnerships with animal shelters to ensure the increased likelihood of animal rehoming
  • It recognises that the community is undecide about whether a cat curfew is needed and so further engagement will take place leading up to the review of the Local Law and the DAMP in another four years.

How can I get involved?

If you have feedback you'd like to share, or have any questions please contact Coordinator Compliance Mark Jennings via:

P: 0429 016 365

E: mark.jennings@cgoldshire.vic.gov.au

Under Section 68A of the Domestic Animals Act 1994 each Victorian Council is required to prepare a Domestic Animal Management Plan at the end of each four-year period.

The purpose of a Domestic Animal Management Plan is to set out a method for evaluating whether the animal management services provided by Council are adequate under the requirements of the Act and the Domestic Animal Regulations 2015.

The plan also outlines programs, services and strategies to:

  • Ensure people comply with the Act, the regulations and any related legislation;
  • Minimise risk of attacks by dogs on people and animals;
  • Address over-population and high euthanasia rates for cats and dogs;
  • Encourage registration and identification of dogs and cats;
  • Minimize potential for cats and dogs to create a nuisance;
  • Effectively identify all dangerous dogs, menacing dogs and restricted breed dogs within the municipality and ensure these dogs are kept in compliance with the Act and regulations;
  • Provide for review of any other matters related to the management of dogs and cats that Council considers necessary; and
  • Provide for periodic evaluation of any program, service, strategy or review outlined in the plan

Council has two Animal Rangers and one Pound Attendant.

As part of the Domestic Animal Management Plan feedback period, we’re keen to educate the community about their role within our community.

The following outlines an average day in the life of Council’s Compliance Officer to find out more about how they look after pets and people in our Shire.

Dogs on leash

Council’s Animal Management team undertake a morning park patrol (this is carried out at a time when people are walking their dogs during school drop-off period)

“Dogs should be kept on a leash where required, and at all times if they will not return to you when called. Dogs may react unexpectedly in different situations. Residents are reminded that the centre of Maryborough is a dog free zone.”

“Responsible pet ownership isn’t just about your pet’s welfare, it’s also about being considerate to other people.”

‘Everyone has the right to enjoy our parks and wider community without disruption, or especially aggression, from a pet.

“Being a pet owner also requires dog owners to pick up after their dogs.

‘We don’t like to hand out fines, but we take responsible dog ownership seriously for a reason.’

Lost animals

Lost animals are collected, and if they cannot be identified, they are taken to Council’s Pound in Nolan Street, Maryborough.

189 animals were lost during the 2020 – 2021 financial year, with 147 returned to their owners and 42 rehomed.

If an animal is handed over to the Pound – it won’t be put down, however there are some circumstances where euthanasia is the best option.

Getting Council involved is the fastest way to scan the microchip and get the pet back with its owner – saving the animal and owner extra distress.

‘If your pet isn’t registered and microchipped, it makes it harder for us to reunite them with you if they become lost or escape.”

Pet registration and microchipping is required by law and helps us reunite you with your furry friend if they get lost.

If a community member collects a lost or wandering animal outside of Council business hours, it’s recommended they safely contain it.

They can use the local Facebook pages to help the pet find its home or do some doorknocking to help reunite it with its family.

Wandering dogs and menacing sheep

During 2021, Compliance Officers have been responding to a number of weekend and evening calls regarding wandering dogs and menacing sheep.

“Even though your dog is friendly at home, chasing sheep can kill the sheep. It’s very stressful for the sheep and the farmer who has to euthanase their affected flock.

“It’s also very upsetting for the family members if their dog is shot menacing sheep. Farmers have the right to do this, which is not known to many dog owners.”

Noise complaints or other investigations

In the afternoon, the animal management team usually follow up on noise complaints or other ongoing investigations. They might even do targeted door knocking on streets to identify unregistered pets, or to chat about frequent wandering pets.

‘We encourage people to get their pets from a shelter and use this opportunity to provide education around pet selection. Many medium to large sized dogs can require two hour-long walks every day, and they are just not suitable for certain households.’

We work with the Maryborough Veterinary Practice and our partner foster home Robyn’s Nest often ends up inundated with lost pets, either due to poor fencing or thunderstorms, which is a shame because it’s preventable – you should always bring your pet inside and create a calm environment for them.”

Dog attacks

The Animal Management team works closely with the RSPCA and police where necessary.

When dog attacks occur, the attacking dog owners may be prosecuted. This assists in providing closure for victims or assist in receiving compensation in court.

‘Unfortunately dog attacks are more common than you might think.

‘If you are involved in a dog attack, make sure you exchange contact details and get in touch with Council’s Animal Management team as soon as possible.’

Local business compliance

Throughout the year, the team also assesses the compliance of pet shops, animal shelters and pet boarding establishments.

The Domestic Animal Management Plan (DAMP) guides their animal management service. Informed by the community, the DAMP includes actions to minimise the risk of dog attacks and euthanasia rates.

Council has an after-hours ranger on duty;

  • The after-hours service are for emergency calls only – such as menacing dogs, dog attacks or livestock on the road;
  • When you call after-hours, the ranger will determine the risk of the situation and advise how the caller should respond;
  • Sometimes it is up to the caller to act. The person who picks the animal up might need to use Facebook or ask around the neighbourhood to reunite the owner with the animal.
  • Livestock on roads at night is a risk for drivers. Drive carefully during the night, and if you own livestock, check your fences are adequate to contain your animals.
  • Register and microchip your pets
  • Train your cat to feed on your property, and consider an enclosure or netting
  • Keep your dog on leash at all times and when in off leash areas ensure it’s under effective control
  • Train your dog through a certified trainer
  • Pick up after your pet
  • Make sure your pet is happy, fed and has appropriate enrichment
  • Choose the right pet for your lifestyle and home
  • Respect the community around you
  • A pet is for life