Published on: 3 Jun, 2020
Pound facts - New South Wales
What should I do if my pet is missing?
After your cat or dog has been missing for more than 72 hours, you have 24 hours in which to notify your local council. If your dog is a restricted dog or a declared dangerous or menacing dog and is missing you must notify your local council within 24 hours of you first noticing it is missing. Local council contact details can be found here.
If your pet is microchipped and registered, once reported missing this ‘locks’ the microchip details on the pet registry so your pet cannot be sold or the ownership otherwise transferred. If your animal is found by police, they can take it to the nearest convenient pound and if your pet is found by a council officer they must take it to a pound in the area they operate. This means if you have lost your pet you should consider contacting pounds in neighbouring council areas. If your animal is a restricted, dangerous or menacing dog and is handed into a vet, the vet is required to contact their local council rather than scanning it and returning it directly to you.
If you take the animal to a vet practice, they can determine whether or not to contact the local council. The intention is that more pets are returned to their owners directly, reducing the impact on council resources and reducing the inconvenience placed on veterinarians, who are often left to house lost pets overnight and on weekends.
Are organisations required to scan the animal for microchip details?
Only those who are ‘approved persons’ have access to the pet register. Approved Persons are people who are authorised to access the information contained on the NSW Companion Animals Register for the purpose of reuniting injured and/or lost cats and dogs with their owners.
Approved people tend to be operators or employees of vet clinics, approved animal welfare organisations such as the RSPCA NSW, Animal Welfare League NSW and the Cat Protection Society of NSW. The access to the pet register is restricted as it contains personal information such as address details and contact numbers of pet owners.
The Office of Local Government operates the NSW Companion Animals Register and individuals must apply to it to become an approved person (this isn’t a transferrable application and is not a business application - it applies to the individual).
What is a stray animal exactly?
While the law doesn’t define what a stray cat or dog is as such, it does provide for circumstances in which an animal can be seized.
For dogs that includes:
when they are in a public place and not under the effective control of a competent person
when present in a prohibited public place
when the dog is present on the property of the person seizing the animal
in order to prevent damage to property.
For cats that includes:
When they are in a prohibited area and the owner is not present
for the cat’s protection
for the protection of any person or animal other than vermin.
Are councils required to collect stray animals?
While councils are not required to collect a stray if you contact them, they are required to take them in if seized and surrendered to them by a member of the public.
What happens when you or someone else seizes a stray animal?
You must by law, take the animal as soon as possible to its owner (if the owner can be identified) or to an approved animal welfare org or other approved premises (usually a vet practice) or a council pound. Animals can be scanned for a microchip, the owner's contact details obtained from the NSW Companion Animals Register and the owner contacted. A person who does not comply with this (i.e. the handing over of the seized animal) is guilty of an offence and may be liable for a penalty of up to $3,300. Approved animal welfare organisations mean any of the following:
the NSW RSPCA,
any other organisation approved by the Departmental Chief Executive by order published in the Gazette.
How long will my pet be held in the pound?
A pound can hold a microchipped animal for 14 days although the holding time varies from pound to pound. After the holding time has lapsed, the pound can sell or euthanise the animal. Animals that are not microchipped may be held for a shorter period of time (usually around seven days).
Is a payment required for collection?
The release fee for an animal can vary considerably between pounds. Some may charge a flat rate while others may charge a fee for every day that your animal is in their care while others may charge both.
Will they rehome or euthanise my pet?
Under the Impounding Act an impounding officer may immediately destroy any impounded animal if in their opinion it’s injured, diseased or severely distressed at the time of impounding, or if it is worth less than the cost of taking it to the pound.
Will my pet be desexed?
No, but if your animal is not de-sexed and you do not have an exemption (i.e. you are not a registered breeder) you may be fined for not de-sexing your animal. From 1 July 2020 owners of cats not de-sexed by four months of age will be required to pay an $80 annual permit in addition to the one-off lifetime pet registration fee. (exemptions exist i.e. breeders). If an animal remains unclaimed and is rehomed, they will either be desexed before being rehomed or provisions will be made for their desexing (e.g. voucher).
Who is responsible for registering/maintaining microchip details?
If a breeder/pet owner gets a vet to microchip their pet, the breeder/owner is responsible for ensuring information goes on the NSW Pet Registry. A vet will either directly enter the information to the Registry as a service for their customer or provide a doc with the required info for processing by your local council.
Under the Impounding Act any member of the public can inspect a pound’s records free of charge. These records must include the date of receipt and release of animals.