Roaming Dogs

To protect the safety of people and animals, the Companion Animals Act 1998 (NSW) requires that any “dog in a public place must be under the effective control of some competent person by means of an adequate chain, cord or leash that is attached to the dog and that is being held by (or secured to) a person”.

Under the Companion Animals Act 1998 any dog which is in a place (other than where it is ordinarily kept) unaccompanied by a responsible person is a “stray”.

Any person (including a council officer) may seize a stray dog in the following circumstances as provided under the Act:

  • If a dog is found in a public place and is not under the effective control of some competent person (section 13)
  • If a dog is in a public place prohibited under the Act (eg children’s play area or food preparation/consumption area) (section 14)
  • If seizing the dog is reasonable and necessary for the protection of any person or animal or to prevent damage to property (section 22)
  • If the dog has attacked a person or animal and the dog is on property owned or occupied by the person seizing the dog. (section 18)

In addition, council officers and police have powers to seize a dog which has attacked from the owner’s property if the owner is not present and the dog cannot be adequately secured on the property (section 18).

Do councils have to collect stray/roaming dogs and cats?

The Companion Animals Act requires a council to accept into the animal shelter any cat or dog which is delivered to the animal shelter or other authorised person of the council (such as a ranger). However, the Act does not require a council to collect a “stray” animal from any public or private place.

What do I do with a stray/roaming or seized dog/cat?

A person who seizes a dog or cat under the Companion Animals Act must cause it to be delivered as soon as possible to its owner (if the owner can be identified) or to the animal shelter or other authorised council officer (eg ranger) (section 62). A person who does not comply with this is guilty of an offence and may be liable for a penalty of up to $3,300.

Council also has the authority to issue an on-the-spot penalty of $330 if your dog is uncontrolled in a public place

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