Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you have come across an animal that does not belong to you? Is it dangerous? Do I call Council? Do I post to social media? What do I do?
The Mudgee Guardian spoke with Mid-Western Regional Council's Senior Law Enforcement Officer for Council/Ranger, Kieren Norris to answer these questions.
What do I do if I find a dog?
The main thing to remember in this situation is to stay safe. If you don't feel comfortable approaching the dog, or it is attacking, here is what you can do:
- If you're comfortable, approach the dog and look for a collar
- If the owners details are listed, call the number
- If there is no collar, call Council on their 24/7 hotline (6378 2850)
- If it is a weekend, take it to a veterinary clinic
"Under legislation, all dogs should have a collar and tag to be identified," Kieren said.
"I treat dogs like they have the potential to bite, not saying that they will but if you go into it thinking it will, you'll be a lot safer.
"Council does not attend for strays after hours and the reason for that is a dog can travel a great distance in a very short period of time, so the cost to send a ranger to look for a dog that they are more than likely not going to find is quite great.
Council will attend to anything where a dog is behaving aggressively or a dog has attacked.Mid-Western Regional Council's Senior Law Enforcement Officer for Council/Ranger, Kieren Norris
Should I take to social media if I find a dog?
Often social media is helpful but if you wish to report an incident, the most efficient way to do so is to call Council.
"If they want to alert Council they should call or email. We have a lot of problems with people putting things on social media and thinking that that somehow alerts Council to the problem, it doesn't," Kieren said.
"If it's an issue and they want Council to deal with it, they need to call Council and make them aware of whatever their particular issue is and then we will look into it and investigate."
My dog got out of the yard. What do I do?
There's only so much an owner can do to prevent a pet from breaking free from the yard, and if you find your beloved pet has escaped, here's what to do:
- Call Council to report it to their lost and found register
- Post to social media with photos and details of your lost pet
- Check with veterinary practices
"A lot of the time animals will get dropped with the vets. So check with them or ring Council and say that you have lost your animal," Kieren said.
Is microchipping my pet really that important?
Last year, Council reported more than 2,000 animals went through the pound. Of those, between 1,600 and 1,700 of those were dogs, while the remaining numbers were attributed by cats.
"A lot of what we deal with unfortunately is not microchipped. It is under legislation that all animals must be microchipped at the age of 12 weeks and that helps us greatly reunite people with that animal," Kieren said.
"Council do run free microchipping days, we do them three times a year but haven't done our next one due to COVID-19, we've had to postpone it."
Rules and regulations have recently undergone an amendment regarding companion animals:
- Price for registration of cats has been halved
- All animals must be chipped at 12 weeks
- Cats must be registered at six months
- Dogs must be registered at six months
- Owners of dogs that are declared to be dangerous or are a restricted breed must have a permit, otherwise a $700 on the spot fine will be issued
- Cats must be desexed by four months or have a permit
"If you look at it like a license plate on the vehicle, the microchip just identifies that animal as the animal, and has all the owner's details on it, and registration is just like registration on a vehicle, but the difference is it's one off payment and then it's registered for life," Kieren said.
What type of fines can be issued?
- If you're walking in a public place anywhere in New South Wales, you must have your dog on a lead at all times otherwise it's a $330 fine
- If your dog defecates in public it is a $275 fine
"We've got plastic pick up bags attached to lots of garbage bins all over town, so if you get stuck there is always an option. We're one of the only Councils who supply them," Kieren said.
"If you get caught, there's no excuses and a fine will be issued on the spot.
"Just a nice way to look at it is, I don't know of anyone that likes standing in dog feces."
How can I contact Council?
- Call Council on their 24/7 hotline: 6378 2850
"Rangers are happy if anyone's got any questions they're more than welcome to give us a call. We'll discuss whatever their concerns are with them," Kieren said.
"Our primary thing is to educate people on what their responsibilities are because if you own an animal, you do have a responsibility for that.
The other part of it is you have a right to have the animal, but you also have a responsibility.Mid-Western Regional Council's Senior Law Enforcement Officer for Council/Ranger, Kieren Norris
"We are happy to discuss or answer any questions for anybody at any time.
"If anyone does have any issues in the community with dogs, please report it to council straightaway."