Pet Ownership


Deciding to get a pet

Deciding to become a pet owner requires very considered thought and planning. All potential pet owners need to be sure they are really ready to take on the responsibility of owning a pet before going ahead and making a choice of breed of pet.

The first question you must ask yourself is 'Can I look after a pet properly?' If the answer is 'Yes', the next step is to make the right choice of pet in accordance with your lifestyle and priorities.

The average lifespan of a small dog is 11 years and, 12 years for a cat. This means pet owners need to be prepared to dedicate this many years (maybe even more) to properly looking after their pet.

If you are part of a family, the decision to get a pet should be a combined one, as all family members will come into contact with the pet, and should be involved in looking after it.

Considerations before becoming a pet owner 

When you own animals you automatically assume greater responsibilities. As an owner you are required to provide care, training, exercise, attention and supervision to prevent your animal from becoming a nuisance to neighbourhood harmony or a threat to public safety.

As owners, we sometimes overlook that our animals can affect other people’s lives as well as our own. Cats visiting a neighbours property uninvited or a dog's barking, growling and howling occurring in excess can become a nuisance to people living within a nearby area. 

  • Are you prepared to care for a dog/cat for over 10 years?
  • Can you afford to own a pet with costs such as registration, vaccination, general health care, vet bills, food, grooming, de-sexing, obedience training, and boarding?
  • Do you have time to care for a pet? eg: daily exercise, grooming, obedience and play. Who will look after your pet when you're away? Do you live in a suitable location and type of housing for a pet?
  • Do you have adequate space for the pet you are considering?
  • What hours do you work, and will the pet have any company during the day?
  • If renting accommodation, are you permitted to own a pet?
  • If buying a puppy/kitten, can you provide care during the day and meals at regular intervals until it is six months of age?
  • Does a pet fit in with your lifestyle, activities, sporting pursuits and priorities? 

Dog and cat registration

All dogs and cats, three months of age and over, must be microchipped and registered. Renewals are due by the 9th of April each year.

Once your pet is registered, yearly renewal notices will be sent out. You can renew your pet registration by making payment online via Bpay (please note each animal has it's own unique reference number), at Australia Post, in person at the Horsham or Natimuk Council offices, by telephone or returning the payment slip from the notice that will be sent to you.

You can also register to receive your renewal notice via email by contacting Council here and providing the below details:

  • Animal ID number (found on your registration renewal notice or by telephoning reception on 03 5382 9777)
  • Your full name
  • Mobile number
  • Email address you wish to receive the renewal notice to


If you choose to sterilise your pet, you must provide with your application a veterinary certificate or statutory declaration.

Registration Fees
  • Unsterilised microchipped dog/cat $144
  • Pension card holders unsterilised microchipped dog/cat $72
  • Sterilised and microchipped dog/cat $48
  • Pension card holders sterilised and microchipped $24
  • Dog used for working stock $48
  • Pensioner discount applies to Commonwealth pensioner concession care, Department of Veterans' Affairs TPI or War Widow card holders only. Documentation should be forwarded to support the application
  • No reduction available on health care cards

Apply to register a new animal 

Notify HRCC of a deceased or relocated animal

Printable transfer of ownership form 2021-2022(PDF, 736KB)

Working dog definition

Is your dog a working dog, as defined under the Animal Management Act?

(a) means a dog usually kept or proposed to be kept

(i) on rural land; and
(ii) by an owner who is a primary producer, or a person engaged or employed by a primary producer; and
(iii) primarily for the purpose of

(b) droving, protecting, tending, or working, stock; or

(c) being trained in droving, protecting, tending, or working, stock; and

(d) does not include a class of dog prescribed under a regulation. 

Assistance Animals

All guide and assistance dogs must be registered however registrations are free.

Under the Disability Discrimination Act, an assistance animal is a dog or other animal that is accredited under State Law to be trained to assist persons with a disability or accredited by a prescribed animal training organisation.  To obtain free registration for an assistance animal, you must provide accreditation from a recognised training organisation that states that the animal is trained for this purpose.

Failure to register your pet will result in a fine of $330.

Off leash dog parks 

Dogs can be exercised off-lead in the following local reserves and parks, remember they must remain under “effective control” and continually supervised.

  • Weir Park, Barnes Blvd
  • Jenkinson Reserve, Baillie St (unfenced)
  • Langlands Park, Houston St
  • Lions Park, Plant Ave
  • Natimuk Rd

See map of off leash parks 

In all other areas Dogs can be exercised on leash only.

A dog may be exercised off a chain, cord or leash in a Designated Off Leash Area if the person in apparent control of the dog:

  • Carries a chain, cord or leash sufficient to bring the dog under effective control
  • Remains in effective voice or hand control of the dog and within constant sight of the dog at all times
  • Does not allow the dog to worry, cause a nuisance or threaten any person or animal.

Restricted breeds

The Domestic Animals Act 1994 requires specific controls for the keeping of "Restricted Breed" dogs. The Victorian Government has made legislation to restrict the following dog breeds:

  • American Pit Bull Terrier (or Pit Bull Terrier)
  • Perro de Presa Canario (or Presa Canario)
  • Fila Brasileiro
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Japanese Tosa

Desexing your pet

There are many reasons why de-sexing your pet is a responsible choice for pet owners. 

Population Control

  • Each year animal care organisations euthanise thousands of unwanted pets.
  • De-sexing your pet will avoid the problems of unwanted puppies and kittens.  

Positive behavioural changes

  • In males: Are less likely to roam, 90% stop entirely. Are less likely to urinate in undesirable places,  50% stop. Castration reduces the sexual drive and ability in most dogs.  60% stop mounting people. Display less dominant behaviour. Are less aggressive towards other male dogs. 60% stop fighting. Are less aggressive towards people, reducing the risk of attacks. 
  • In females: Prevents oestrous behaviour (on heat). Male dogs will not be attracted and will not be a nuisance. 

Medical Benefits    De-sexing your pet has also shown longer term medical benefits. 

  • In males: Are unlikely to develop common prostate diseases which can be fatal. Approximately 60% of dogs that are not desexed develop prostatic disease. 
  • In females:Will not develop serious uterine infections which are common in older female dogs that are not desexed. 
  • Desexing before the first season greatly reduces the risk of female dogs developing breast cancer which is fatal in 50% of cases. 
  • Males and Females: Greatly reduces the incidence of fighting in cats and associated infections and injuries such as feline AIDS, which is spread by biting. Desexed dogs and cats are less likely to roam and therefore, are less likely to become road victims.


An excellent way of permanently identifying your pet is to have a microchip implanted under its skin.

Microchips are encoded with an identification number which can be read by scanners. If your pet loses its collar and tag, Council's Community Safety officers will still be able to find out where it comes from and contact you. 

Microchipping is now mandatory for all dogs (including working dogs) and cats within the Horsham Rural City Council Municipality.  The Cat or Dog must be microchipped prior to registration due to amendments to the Domestic Animal Act.

All dogs and cats, three months of age and over, must be microchipped and registered. 

Renewals are due 10 April each year.

Once your pet is registered, yearly renewal notices will be sent out. You can renew your pet registration by completing and returning the yearly renewal notice that will be sent to you or by bringing your yearly renewal notice with payment to the Council Offices. 

If you choose to sterilise your pet, which Council encourages, you must provide with your initial application a Veterinary Certificate or Statutory Declaration. 

The Horsham Rural City Council has 'Lifetime Tags' in use, your pet tag and registration number is for the life of the pet and is not replaced each year upon renewal. If your pet loses or damages its Lifetime Tag, replacement tags will be issued by contacting Council. Please note, it is an offence for pets to be found not wearing a Lifetime Tag.

All dogs and cats newly registered with Council must be microchipped before Council can accept the registration; this includes previously registered dogs and cats transferring from other Councils. Microchipping certificate must be provided with an application form. Microchipping will assist with the recovery if your pet is lost. 

Failure to do so could result in an on the spot fine. From 1 May, 2007, all cat and dog owners are required to have their pets microchipped before being registered to comply with State Government legislation (Domestic Animals Act 1994).

Preparing your animals for emergency

An emergency could happen at any time, so it is critical you prepare now to ensure your animals are protected. There are a variety of disasters that may place your animals in danger, including bushfires, extreme weather and storms. The Council is here to offer you help and support to ensure your animals are prepared for an emergency.  We hope the information below is helpful and encourages you to not only prepare for an evacuation now, but implement a practice run through of your emergency evacuation plan before it is needed.

In the event of a disaster, you will need to act quickly, so a strategic plan for your animals is critical.

If you require more information on preparing your animals for an emergency, contact Council on 03 5382 9777, or visit

Deceased or relocated animals

Please let us know if your pet has passed away or moved to a new location.  Fill in the Deceased or Relocated Animal Notification so that we can keep our records up to date.  If your pet has a new owner in our Council, please complete the Animal - Transfer Ownership Form 2021-2022(PDF, 736KB).  If your pet has moved to a new municipality you will need to contact the local Council and register your pet at their new home. 

Domestic animals act

The purpose of this Act is to promote animal welfare, the responsible ownership of dogs and cats and the protection of the environment.

Domestic Animals Act 1994(PDF, 1MB)

Domestic Animal Management Advisory Group 

For more information see committees page

Excess number of animals

The maximum number of animals permitted on land less than 2 hectares in area is 2 dogs and 3 cats. 

If you live on more than two hectares in area you are permitted to have up to four dogs and four cats.

If you own more than the above numbers of animals in either category, owners are required to apply for a excess animal permit by downloading and completing this form Application for Local Law Permit Local Laws(PDF, 377KB) or by contacting Council on 03 5382 9777.