Ballarat City Council says registration policy required

Ballarat City Council has backed its dog registration policy, which is mandatory under state government law. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

Ballarat City Council has backed its dog registration policy, which is mandatory under state government law. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

Ballarat City Council has defended its pet registration policy in the wake of increasing dog attacks across the municipality.

Council’s draft animal management plan reported 116 dog attacks in 2016, up from 97 in 2012.

However this number peaked at 150 dog attacks in 2015.

Ratepayers voiced their anger at council’s pet policy on Facebook after The Courier revealed on Monday an estimated 30 per cent of dogs and 60 per cent of cats were not registered in 2015-16.

However council infrastructure and environment director Terry Demeo said registration ensured council could prosecute canine attacks on humans and dogs.

“We have an unacceptable rate of dogs attacks, both on dogs and people,” he said.

“It is not unusual for a significant number of them to be unregistered dogs, which highlights the necessity that with registration comes responsibility and track-ability.

“If another animal or individual is harmed, we want to identify where the attacking dog has come from and if the correct management of that animal has taken place.”

State government legislation makes it mandatory for council’s to register pets in their municipality.

Fees can vary in Ballarat, with significantly lower charges being provided for desexed animals.

Some ratepayers accused council of using the registration to raise revenue.

Others said they had been fined for not re-registering their pets after they had died.

Mr Demeo said without the registration there was no way to identify pets at the RSPCA run Ballarat Animal Shelter.

“Microchipping is not absolutely mandatory,” he said.

“We do want to return animals when they are impounded, so having no system to identify an animal will make administration of pets very difficult.

“The registration process is about being to identify who owns what animal when they are at large.”

Pet owners also have to pay a fine to retrieve their dog or cat from the pound.

They also have to pay RSPCA’s cleaning and feeding costs, although the group’s contract to run the shelter ends in August.