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 purchasing a 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.

To properly care for a pet you need to consider all of the below factors before purchasing your new best friend:

- 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? i.e: 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

Pet registration and microchipping is a legal requirement under the Domestic Animals Act 1994 for every dog and cat over three months of age.

Registration enables Council to provide facilities such as dog parks, pounds and shelters and reunite lost pets with their owners.

Registration renewals are due on the 9th of April each year and an annual fee applies, pensioner concessions are available.

Pet registration renewals can be made 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 the 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 customer service on 03 5382 9777)
  • Your full name
  • Date of birth
  • Mobile number
  • Email address you wish to receive the renewal notice at

Registration Fees

  • Unsterilised Dog or Cat $144
  • Concession unsterilised Dog or Cat $72
  • Sterilised Dog or Cat   $48
  • Concession sterilised Dog or Cat  $24
  • Working Dog used for working stock $48

Concession discount documentation should be forwarded to Council with the application and
only applies to:

  • Commonwealth Pensioner card
  • Department of Veterans' Affairs TPI
  • War Widow card holders

No rate reduction is available on Health Care cards.

To qualify for the sterilised registration fee you must provide a Veterinary certificate or a statutory declaration stating the animal has been sterilised.  

To qualify for the Working Dog registration fee, the dog must meet the criteria as set out below in the Domestic Animal Act 1994.

Failure to register your pet may result in a infringement of $330. 

Working Dog Definition

Is your dog a working dog, as defined under the Domestic Animal 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.  

Apply to register a new animal 

Assistance Animals

All guide and assistance dogs must be registered, however registrations are no charge.

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. 

Deceased or Relocated Animal

If your pet has passed away or you have moved out of the Horsham Rural City Council municipality, please complete the notify Council of a deceased or relocated animal form below. We can then update our records and you will no longer receive a registration renewal letter for those animals.
If your pet has moved to a new municipality you will need to contact that local Council and register your pet at their new home.  

Deceased or Relocated animal notification

Transfer Ownership of an Animal

Council accepts pet registration transfers from other Councils in Victoria.

You can notify us about a ownership transfer of a dog or cat registration online by completing the animal registration transfer form below.

If you are unable to complete the online form, download and complete a transfer of ownership form and return it to Council for processing.
When proof of payment is provided from your previous Council for the current registration period, the fee will be waived for that years animal registration period.
If your pet was registered in another state, you must apply to register it again. 



Apply to register a new animal  

Off Leash Dog Parks 

A dog may be exercised off it's chain, cord or leash in a designated off leash area only and the owner or person in charge of the animal is in apparent control of the dog, meaning:

  • 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 other person or animal

Dogs can be exercised off lead in the following local reserves and parks:

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

See map of off leash parks 

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

Restricted Breeds

A restricted dog breed is a breed whose importation into Australia is prohibited under the Commonwealth Customs (Prohibited Importations) Regulations 1956. These include;

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

Restricted breed dogs, under the Domestic Animals Amendment (Restricted Breed Dogs) Act 2017, may be registered with Council but must comply with housing and ownership requirements such as:

  • Desexing
  • Microchipping
  • Prescribed collar worn at all times
  • Warning signs displayed at entrances
  • Prescribed enclosure
  • Muzzled and on leash when off the owner’s premises

If you own a dog listed in the breeds above, please contact the Council on 03 5382 9777 to discuss registration requirements.


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.

Microchipping is 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.

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

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

Renewals are due 9 April each year.

Once your pet is registered, yearly renewal notices will be sent out in early march. You can renew your pet registration simply by making payment by any of the methods listed on the renewal.

If you choose to sterilise your pet (which Council strongly encourages) you must provide a Veterinary certificate or statutory declaration with your registration application if you wish to claim the reduced registration fee amount. 

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. A microchipping certificate should be provided with your application form, however our Community Safety Officers can scan your pet to locate the microchip number if you have lost it. Please contact our customer service team on 03 5382 9777 to arrange this. Microchipping will assist with our recovery efforts if your pet is lost. 

Failure to microchip your pet 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 an 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 click the RSPCA link below.

RSPCA Emergency Assistance for Animals

Department of Agriculture


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

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 4 dogs and 4 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 completing the application below or by contacting Council on 03 5382 9777.

Excess Animal Permit Application

Domestic Animal Management Advisory Group 

For more information see committees page