Nuisance and dangerous animals

Overview

Overview

If you have a complaint about a neighbours pet. In the first instance, try talking to the owner directly. If this doesn't resolve the issue, you can contact Council to lodge a complaint. You must know the address where the dog lives before contacting Council.

A Council Officer will then contact the owner of the pet and let them know a complaint has been received and discuss ways of addressing the alleged issue.

Cat Curfew

Horsham Rural City has a cat curfew. The curfew requires cats to be confined to the owner’s premises between sunset and sunrise (overnight).

The cat curfew is not about keeping cats inside the house, but confining your cat to your property boundary. However, cats that are not confined during the day (non-curfew hours) can still be trapped if a resident objects to the cat being on their property.

If your cat is trapped outside your property by a member of the public or a Council Community Safety officer, attempts will be made to reunite it with you, provided the cat is currently microchipped and/or wearing a Council registration tag.

Wandering Cats

What are your options for dealing with a wandering or trespassing cat when it enters your property?

  1. First you need to establish whether the cat has an owner or if it is a stray/ownerless cat. You might like to observe the cat and try to establish where it resides or make enquiries with your neighbours to help identify where the cat comes from. Owned cats are usually friendly. Stray cats that are ownerless tend to be timid and afraid of human interaction and are often unapproachable.
    When trapped they can become aggressive.

  2. If you find the cat’s owner, you may:
    (a) Approach the cat’s owner and explain the problem. The owner may not be aware of the situation;
    (b) If the owner is unapproachable or you are not comfortable approaching them, try placing the “Dear Neighbour” letter into their letter box. A template can be downloaded below.

  3. Check out the below 'Guide to deterring cats from your yard & garden' for some helpful tips and tricks in dealing with wandering cats.

  4. If you cannot find the cat’s owner, you may:
    (a) For friendly cats - Try approaching the cat if it’s tame and secure the cat in a suitable box or cage and immediately notify Council on 03 5382 9777; 
    (b) For unfriendly cats - Loan a trap from Council to trap the cat and have it collected by a Community Safety officer.

  5. All impounded cats are scanned for a microchip in an attempt to identify and contact the owner.

Dear Neighbour letter

Guide to deterring cats from your yard & garden

Request a cat trap here

 

Barking Dogs

Dogs bark for a variety of reasons and it is important to find out why and then try to resolve the issue in a friendly manner wherever possible. An owner must ensure that noise from animals owned by them does not "adversely affect" the comfort, convenience, privacy or health of another person, however, the following points need to be considered:

  • The dog's owner may not realise that the barking is causing an annoyance to other people
  • The dog may only bark excessively when the owner is not home so they may not even know
  • The owner may not hear the barking from various areas within the house
  • The owner may be a very sound sleeper and not be woken when the dog barks

What Level of Barking is Considered a Nuisance?

An owner must ensure that noise from animals owned by them does not unreasonably interfere with the comfort and peace of another person, however, the dog's owner may not realise that the barking is causing an annoyance to other people because;

  • The dog may only bark excessively when the owner is not home
  • The owner may not hear the barking from various areas within the house
  • The owner may be a very sound sleeper and not be woken when the dog barks

The Domestic Animals Act 1994 states that a dog or cat is to be regarded as a nuisance for the purposes of this section — "if it creates a noise, by barking or otherwise, which persistently occurs or continues to such a degree or extent that it unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of any person in any other premises". 

How to Report a Barking Dog

You can lodge a report with Council's Customer Service, you must know where the dog lives and you must provide your personnel details. These details will never be passed on to the dog owner without your consent. 

A Council Officer will then contact the owner of the dog and let them know a complaint has been received about their dog and discuss ways of addressing the alleged issue. 

We ask that you monitor the barking for a few more days to give the owner an opportunity to put some of the suggestions into practice. In many cases, this is all that is required to solve the problem. The investigating officer will then contact you again after around 7 days to ascertain if the situation has improved or not.

 Report a problem here

Ongoing Issues

If the barking does not stop after the investigating officer has contacted the owner you may be given barking diaries  to record the times, duration and frequency of the barking to document the continuing level of nuisance being caused.

If the dog owner denies there is a nuisance being caused, the investigating officer will require further evidence. This may include contacting other neighbours affected by the noise, or even recording the noise level from inside your house.

Once a minimum standard of evidence is obtained indicating that a substantial nuisance is being caused, the investigating council officer has a range of tools at his or her disposal to address the issue. This may include:

  • Issuing a notice to comply to the dog owner to eliminate the nuisance within seven days
  • Issuing further noise diaries to document the barking levels after the Notice to Comply has come into effect
  • Issuing an infringement notice against the owner
  • Legal action against the dog owner in the Magistrates Court to seek a Nuisance Abatement Order

The investigating officer will contact you and discuss these options with you, however in order for any kind of enforcement action to be taken against the owner, a minimum standard of evidence must be obtained and you must be prepared to give evidence in court, should the dog owner choose to challenge the allegations you are making.

 Barking Dog Report Form

Dog Attacks

An owner of a dog that rushes at, attacks, bites, or chases any person or other animal can be liable for any damage caused by the conduct of that dog. 

Please note, that if the dog attacked due to any of the following reasons, then action might not be able to be taken:

  • Dog was being teased, abused or assaulted
  • The attacked person was trespassing on the property where the dog was kept
  • Another animal was brought onto the premises where the dog was kept
  • The dog was defending its owner who was being attacked

How to Report a Dog Attack

If you are the victim of a dog attack, contact Council Customer Service immediately on 03 5382 9777.

Please provide the following information:

  • Nature of the attack i.e. bite, menace, chase, rushed at you
  • Date and time of incident
  • Location of the incident
  • Is the dog still roaming? 
  • If still roaming, the last known location of the dog
  • Description of the dog i.e. breed, size, colour
  • Where the dog lives, if known

A local laws officer will then investigate the report and advise the action to be taken.

Other Animal Complaints

In the first instance, try talking to the owner directly. If this doesn't resolve the issue, you can contact Council to lodge a complaint. You must know the address where the animal lives before contacting Council.

To lodge a complaint contact Council Customer Service on 03 5382 9777 or fill in an online report form here for a local law officer to investigate.

Living with Snakes

It is important to treat all incidents of snakebite as potentially serious. If someone is bitten, dial 000 immediately. 

Cases of a snakebite in urban Victoria are very rare - and the swift application of modern first aid techniques, followed by treatment in hospital, means that most bite victims survive these ordeals.
 
See the below fact sheet from DELWP (Department of Land, Water & Planning) for more information.