Animal care and control

Your responsibilities as a pet owner include registering and microchipping your dog or cat, and making sure it isn’t a nuisance in public, to your neighbours or other animals. 

Microchipping and registration

  • Microchipping your pet can be done at your local Veterinary Clinic.
  • Microchipping is compulsory in NSW.
  • All cats and dogs are required to be microchipped prior to being registered.
  • Animals are to be microchipped by 12 weeks of age, at a point of sale or change of ownership (whichever occurs first).
  • Microchipping enables vets and other animal workers to reunite pets with their owners. The microchip can be scanned to reveal all of the owners information supplied at the time of microchipping.
  • If you change any of your details, it is important that you advise Council so amendments can be made to your pets microchipping details.

  • Registration can be done online through the NSW Pet Registry.
  • Council recommends you register your pet online. By creating an owner profile with the NSW Pet Registry, it will allow you to:
    • update your contact details
    • report your pet missing
    • change the ownership of pets online
  • It is important you keep the registration details up to date should you move house, change contact details, sell or give away your pet.

The NSW Pet Registry Service provides lots of useful information, including user guides and FAQ's 

Claim a concession on registration fees

To claim a concession on your registration fee, you must have evidence of the following:

  • Desexing: A certificate of sterilisation from your vet.
  • Breeder membership: If the animal owner is a registered breeder, a copy of their membership from an approved organisation.
  • Assistance animal: If the animal is an assistance animal, evidence of assistance animal registration from an approved organisation.
  • Pension: If the animal owner is a pensioner, a current government pension card.

How we can help

If you are unable to register your pet online, you can visit Council, and we can update the NSW Pet Registry on your behalf.

You will find all the required forms you will need to fill out on our forms page, which include:

Permanent Identification Form P1A: This is free of charge and will allow you to put your pet on the NSW Pet Registry. This form is usually completed by the breeder and given to the new owner at the time of purchase. Please note, this is not registration of your animal. 

Verification of existing microchip M1: This form is filled out by an authorised identifier (usually your local VET). This form is used when a new owner is unsure of a pets microchip number, either by misplacing paperwork or not receiving the Permanent Identification Form P1A (above) from the breeder. You will need to have this form filled in to register your pet if you do not have a copy of the above form.

Lifetime Registration Form R2: Use this form to register your cat or dog for life (in NSW). This will come with a fee depending on your pet and circumstance. 

Change of Owner / Details C3A: Use this form to change the ownership of your cat or dog. It is the responsibility of the ‘old’ owner – the person selling or giving away the animal – to notify the change. The new owner should be given a copy of this form which verifies the legitimate sale of the animal. This form could also be used to update your dogs residential address if you relocate within NSW.

Change of owner - Processed by animal welfare Organisations C3B: This form is used to update an animals details when they have been purchased from an animal shelter. This form can only be used by Approved Animal Welfare Organisations and Council Pounds. 

Barking Dogs

Barking dogs can cause severe disturbances to local residents. Here are some actions you can take to make life better for dogs, dog owners and neighbours Dealing with barking dogs

Barking Dog Procedure

1. Discuss: Contact the dog owner first. Be courteous when contacting the dog owner. Sometimes they may not know how to go about fixing the problem so be prepared to assist with information.

2. Wait: If the owner agrees to do something about the barking, please wait a few weeks to see if they have been successful in their efforts.

3. Contact a Community Justice Centre (CJC) This is a government-funded but independent centre that specialise in settling differences between neighbours via mediation without entering into complicated legal processes. For information on your nearest CJC contact on 1800 990 777 or visit

4. Take Private Civil Action (Noise Abatement Order (NAO) under Part 8.6, Division 2 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997). A NAO can be issued by the Local Court and is enforced by NSW Police. For information on getting a NAO, visit

5. Contact Council: You will be sent a number of Barking Dog Diaries for yourself and other effected neighbours.  Council requires you and at least one other affected household:

  1. To agree to complete a Barking Dog Diary for 28 days (for evidence should the matter proceeds to Court); and
  2. To agree to act as a witness in Court and provide evidence (should the matter proceeds to Court). 

Note:The barking dog diary recordings must be true matters observed; the diary enclosed is a primary tool of evidence for a barking dog offence under the Companion Animals Act 1998. The diary may be used by Council as evidence in any legal proceedings against the owner of the companion animal.

6. Lodge an official Complaint with Council:  You will need to provide;

  • Updated written complaints;
  • Completed diaries covering the same period of time from at least two (2) separate neighbours; and
  • Information that demonstrates how you have attempted to resolve the matter with the dog’s owner (Steps (1) & (3)

Council will then investigate your complaint. If your complaint is substantiated, Council may then proceed to take action under Section 32A of the Companion Animals Act 1998 to have the dog’s owner manage the barking of the dog. 


Dog Attacks

Significant fines may be imposed on an offending dog that commits any of the following offences :

  • rushing at
  • attacking
  • biting
  • harassing
  • chasing any person or animal

If you have seen or have been involved in a dog attack, we encourage you to report an incident to Council.

Report a dog attack

Responsible dog ownership

Dogs must be registered and kept under effective control. The responsibilities of dog owners are established under the Companion Animals Act 1998.

Keep your dog/s healthy, safe and avoid fines by being aware of, and following, these essential tips.

  1. To stay healthy and avoid boredom associated problems, dogs need to be exercised regularly in an off leash exercise area.
  2. No matter how friendly, a roaming dog can be at risk of harm or risk of harming other dogs, animals and people in adverse situations or otherwise, so don’t allow your dog to roam.
  3. Ensure your dog is registered (and microchipped if applicable).
  4. Carry bags so you can pick up your dog’s faeces from public places and put it in a bin.
  5. Ask your adjoining owner if your dog creates any nuisance problems, and correct them.
  6. Train your dog not to bark (Council can help you with this). Numerous dog trainers in Bellingen Shire can help to solve barking and other dog behavioural problems.
  7. Ensure your dog is friendly and comfortable with people to avoid dog attacks.
  8. In public places, keep your dog under ‘effective control’. This means on-leash and restrained by the person holding the leash (unless the dog is specially exempted), and not more than four dogs per handler.
  9. Take care to choose the best dog with characteristics that suit your circumstances.
  10. Have your dog desexed if you are not a registered breeder.

Keep your dog under control

A dog that is in a public place must be under the effective control of a competent person by means of an adequate cord or leash.

Penalty: $330




Responsible cat ownership

The responsibilities of cat owners are established under section 4 of the the Companion Animals Act 1998.

Essential Tips for Cat Owners
  1. Do not allow your cat to roam.
  2. Ensure your cat wears a collar and bell.
  3. Have your cat desexed and avoid unwanted kittens.
  4. Have new cats registered and microchipped after 1 July 1999.
  5. Do not allow your cat out at night.
  6. Ask your adjoining owners if your cat causes any nuisance problems, and correct them.
  7. Do not allow your cat to enter local bushland or attack native wildlife.
  8. Keep your cat healthy and happy.
  9. Avoid nuisance problems caused by boredom.
  10. Make sure you really want a cat and are prepared to care for it before acquiring one.

Keep Your Cat Under Control

Cat owners are encouraged to keep their animal inside at night to protect native wildlife and the cat. The majority of car accidents and cat fights that injure cats occur at night.

Any person may lawfully seize a cat if necessary to protect a person or other animal (other than vermin) from injury or death, as well as for protection of the cat.

Nuisance Cats

A cat which repeatedly causes a problem, such as excessive and continuous noise or destruction to property may be declared a nuisance. Continuing offences can then result in the issue of on the spot fines by Council.

If a report has been made against your cat, our rangers will work with you in a helpful and constructive way to find a solution to the issue.


Managing dog and koala/wildlife co-habitation

Many encounters occur in Bellingen Shire between dogs and koalas, and other wildlife such wallabies, birds and reptiles.

Threatened koalas are seen across the shire.

Their favourite food trees are:

  • Tallowwood
  • Swamp Mahogany
  • Grey Gum
  • Forest Red Gum.

As nocturnal animals, koalas are especially active around dawn to dusk, and in spring to summer when they often cross ground to find habitat, food or a mate. Although koalas may seem docile, they can be very agile with surprisingly strong, sharp claws and long front teeth. If feeling threatened or surprised, they can cause serious wounds requiring stitches.

Five key considerations - remember these to help keep your dog happy and healthy:

  1. Friendly or playful dogs can react to koalas unexpectedly.

    Even if out of character, due to “Fight or Flight” instinct any dog can attack a koala if surprised by one in the yard and especially if it’s a first-time encounter.

  2. Your yard, land and trees may form part of a koala’s territory.

    Koalas know their territory intimately and as excellent climbers, koalas will single-mindedly pursue a destination making them difficult to exclude with normal fencing.

  3. The smallest nip from your dog’s teeth can be fatal to a koala.

    The bacteria in your dog’s mouth can cause extensive damage when exposed to a koala’s skin and can result in a slow and painful death. Frequently, the damage isn’t visible until it is too late.

  4. Call Friends of the Koala 24 hr Koala Rescue on 02 6622 1233 for help or advice.

    Quick action is needed in the event of a dog-koala incident given that sometimes, despite prevention attempts an encounter, bite or worse can occur. Koalas might seem unharmed, dazed or even race off up a tree, but past cases show they are likely to need care. If an incident occurs - secure your dog inside and immediately call for help or advice.

  5. Allowing dogs to roam is an offence.
    Roaming increases the risk of harm to your dog due to vehicles, wild dog/s, baiting and other traps for pest animals.

Strategies to manage dogs, koalas and wildlife at home
  • Bring your dog in with you at night, or enclose your veranda with a gate, or create a secure dog run. 
  • Ensure you have exercised dog owner responsibility  
  • Place koala escape poles, climbing routes and trees inside fences. Ask if your neighbours will do similar.


Assistance Animals

Some companion animals are trained to aid people with a disability to help alleviate the effect of that disability. These assistance animals are not pets.

Assistance animals provide an important service that helps people to participate in personal and community activities more fully with confidence and independence.

What is an Assistance Animal?

An assistance animal in NSW is a dog or other animal that is either:

  • Accredited under a law of a State or Territory that provides for the accreditation of animals trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of that disability; or
  • Accredited by an animal training organisation prescribed by the Commonwealth; or
  • Trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of that disability, and, to meet standards of hygiene and behaviour appropriate for an animal in a public place.

This is based on how assistance animals are defined in Commonwealth law (Disability Discrimination Act 1992). Currently neither the Commonwealth nor NSW laws provide for the accreditation of assistance animals. A working dog cannot also be an assistance animal. A common example of assistance animals includes guide dogs for the visually impaired.

How do Assistance Dogs help?

Assistance Dogs can help with a range of conditions. They help people with physical disabilities and limitations complete day to day tasks around their homes and in the community. They help people with psychological conditions, like PTSD and Autism Spectrum Disorders, feel safe, calm and confident when out in public spaces. They provide highly specialised skills to address specific needs a person might have.

Do Assistance Animals have public access rights?

In general, animals are prohibited from entering certain public places. However, a person with a disability is entitled to be accompanied by an assistance animal in public places and on public transport while he or she is genuinely using the animal for assistance. Entry cannot be refused without reasonable cause.

An animal does not need to be registered as an assistance animal under the Companion Animals Act 1998 to be permitted access to a public place or public transport. Staff in charge of access to public places and transport are entitled to request reasonable proof that your animal is a genuine assistance animal. They may be guided by their organisation’s own policy to help them to determine this.

It is unlawful to impose a charge on a person to enter a place open to, or used by the public, only because the person is accompanied by an assistance animal unless:

  • It is reasonably necessary to supply additional accommodation for the animal and a reasonable charge is applied for that accommodation; or
  • The owner, or person in charge, of the place reasonably incurs additional expense because the animal is present, the charge is reasonable in the circumstances and is charged to compensate for the expense.

What is a Therapy Dog?

A Therapy Dog provides comfort, companionship and emotional support to individuals, families, and people visiting or living in facilities. Therapy Dogs can particularly support people who experience:

  • Behavioural, emotional, developmental, and mental health conditions; or
  • Physical disabilities; or
  • Isolation caused by age or illness.

Do Therapy Dogs have public access rights?

Therapy Dogs are placed with clients in the capacity of a companion animal, not an assistance animal. Therefore, they do not have public access rights.

Need more advice?

If you require more information, please visit


Keeping of Animals Policy

Bellingen Shire Councils Keeping of Animals Policy aims to inform the community of any restrictions that may apply to the number and type of animals, promoting responsible animal management, fairness, integrity, and good public administration. It also provides clarity in investigating complaints about animal keeping and potential unlawful activity.

View the policy