EDITORIAL: Ballarat pet owners need to be more responsible

Being a responsible pet owner means loving your animal, including it in your family and looking after its health and wellbeing.

Being a responsible pet owner also means registering your cat or dog with your local council.

But it seems a large chunk of pet owners living in the City of Ballarat are being anything but responsible. This may sound harsh, but many of you out there are actually irresponsible.

It seems that 60 per cent – nearly two thirds – of cat owners in the city failed to register their animals in the 2015-16 financial year. Dog owners seemed a little more responsible, with 30 per cent not registering their pets.

That means there are a lot of pet owners out their actually breaking the law, albeit a local municipal law.

The latest figures on pet registration were revealed in the City of Ballarat’s domestic animal management plan for 2017-21, which the council must submit every four years.

The figures show there were an estimated 16,908 dogs in the municipality, but just 13,193 registered. And despite more than 10,000 cats being estimated, just 4831 have been registered with the Ballarat council.

Under local laws, all dogs and cats aged three months and older must be registered.

Pet registration is a legal requirement under the Domestic Animals Act 1994. You can be fined for not complying. But it seems many people in Ballarat would rather risk of substantial fine (more than $300) than pay relatively cheap annual registration fees (standard fee of less than $40 a year).

By not registering your cat or dog, you are then asking your local council to fully fit the bill for many services and facilities you, as pet owners, take for granted.

Your pet registration fees go toward providing facilities like dog parks, including off leash parks and fenced dog parks, dog poo bins and pounds and shelters. Not to mention registration tags and animal management staff for the collection and return of stray animals to owners.

So next time you complain about paying your minimal animal registration fee, think about that time you were reunited with your much loved missing pet because a council collector found them and the pound looked after them. Because it’s your fees which paid for that much needed service.

Part of being a responsible pet owner is to be just that … responsible.