Responsible Pet Ownership
Dogs are an important part of our local community, but dogs that bark excessively can become a source of irritation for neighbours and others using the local environment. Some level of barking is deemed to be acceptable, however when a dog continues to bark it may become an intrusion and create friction between neighbours.
The North Burnett Regional Council receives numerous complaints a year regarding nuisance noise from barking dogs. Approaching the dog’s owner first in a neighbourly manner and discussing your concerns with them can sometimes easily resolve this type of complaint.
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
- The owner may not hear the barking from various areas within the house
- The owner may be a very sound sleeper and not woken when the dog barks.
Lodging a complaint with council
Before lodging a complaint with Council, you may wish to consider the following:
- Speaking with your neighbour and attempt to resolve the problem
- Talk to other neighbours who may also be affected by the barking
Talking to your Neighbour
Neighbours can help each other to solve barking problems by communicating to each other their concerns and needs. Neighbours can assist by identifying the reasons for excessive barking and noting what is happening in the area when the dog is barking.
A neighbour may be in a position to offer to exercise a dog when its owner is unable to, due to work commitments, illness or other reasons. Approach your neighbour and offer this service, this will also help build your relationship with the dog. By obtaining the name of the dog, you are also able to assist in the control of the noise.
As mentioned earlier, the owner of the offending dog may not know the animal is causing a nuisance. Try the following steps to attempt to resolve the issue in a neighbourly manner:
- Approach the dog’s owner when the problem arises and state your case clearly and politely. He or she may not be aware of the barking situation. Provide the dog owner or keeper with a copy of a dairy of the dates, times and lengths of time the dog has barked.
- If the neighbour takes no action or does not agree that a problem exists, you should then contact council.
You can then start the procedure for lodging a barking dog complaint as follows:
- Identify the correct address and description of the offending dog/s
- Identify the time of day that the barking is a problem for you
- Contact North Regional Council on 1300 696 272 to lodge a customer service request. This will then be referred to the Compliance team for investigation (please be aware that in some cases, an investigation can be a lengthy process).
How we investigate the Complaint
The Compliance Officer will:
- Call you to discuss and clarify any information in relation to the complaint if required.
- Contact the owner of the dog via mail to advise them about the noise issue. The majority of complaints are resolved at this stage.
- If the noise does not abate, we may require you to fill in a noise log and/or allow us to place a sound recording device to gather evidence.
- Obtain an impact statement from you and prepare to take the matter to Court. You would be required as a witness.
Why dogs bark
Dogs bark for many reasons, and even though they appear to be ‘barking for no reason’ they are in fact trying to communicate something to their owner or anyone who is willing to pay attention.
The following list provides some of the main reasons why dogs bark:
- Lack of exercise
- Inadequate yard space
- Boredom or lack of stimulation, both mental and physical
- Not enough human companionship
- Inadequate shelter from weather conditions
- Hunger or thirst
- Medical condition, such as an illness or discomfort
- Change to family structure/ separation anxiety that can lead to destructiveness, howling or escaping
- Movement outside the dog’s property
Of course, dogs also bark to alert their owners of trouble, such as an intruder entering the property or perhaps a fire.
Remember, a dog’s idea of an ‘intruder’ may differ to that of the owner. It could include cats, possums, other dogs, or even birds flying across the property.
Whilst it is acceptable for a dog to bark to warn its owner of an intruder, it is the owner’s responsibility to train the dog not to bark at ‘normal’ occurrences such as possums, cats, birds, etc.
Barking at normal movement/ noises from adjoining properties could be considered to be unacceptable behaviour.
What is not considered Barking Nuisance
Some of the examples below are common practices by dogs and if conducted only occasionally and in limited duration will not be considered to be a nuisance in terms of the Local Laws.
- Responding to territorial threats – other dogs passing, cats, intruders, strangers approaching boundary such as leaflet distributors, persons walking past the property etc.
- The Postman deliveries – the Postman and his motorbike brings out the worst in some dogs
- An isolated incidence of barking that has occurred as a result of some environmental stimulus – Itinerants in the area, work gangs (roadwork’s) working nearby, neighbourhood party.
Legal requirements for court action
Barking dog complaints can take some time to fully resolve and you need to be aware that if the problem persists, the matter may be brought before a Magistrate’s Court and you may be summoned as a witness to provide evidence. At Court, a magistrate may impose a court order which must be complied with. Failure to do so by the dog owner is an offence, and a magistrate may impose further penalties.
To take a barking dog complaint to court, you will be required, as the complainant, to give evidence in court. Your evidence will be critical in convincing a Magistrate that the dog is causing a nuisance.
It is important you keep a comprehensive diary over the course of the investigation that shows
The patterns of the dog’s barking behaviours. Remember, in a court of law the evidence you give may be subjected to cross-examination.
Council will consider taking the matter to court if:
- A nuisance as defined by the NBRC Local Law No. 2 (Animal Management) 2011 has been established;
- All avenues available to Council to rectify the nuisance have been exhausted and the dog continues to be a problem, and
- You are prepared to give evidence at court.
The success of any court action relies on the support and assistance of the complainant. If relevant information and evidence is not provided, Council is unable to pursue the matter.
Please note: Council will not get involved in any unrelated domestic dispute between you and your neighbour.
Biting and aggression
All dog owners hope their pet doesn’t show aggression towards other animals or people, but it can and does happen for many reasons. It is often a sign of irresponsible ownership and it is always against the law. Pet owners are responsible and legally liable for the actions of their animals.We are all aware of the need to protect our community from the danger and fear of dog attack. It is the responsibility of pet owners to ensure the protection of others and to ensure our community feels safe and can enjoy public spaces. Aggressive animals have no place in public areas unless under close and direct supervision.
Understanding responsible pet ownership:
- Dog play can become rough and it may sometimes result in a bite
- Constantly monitor your children when a dog is around and never leave babies or young children alone with a dog
- Keep children away from a dog if it is sleeping, feeding (especially chewing a bone) or if recovering from an illness or injury
- Always check to see that your fencing or dog enclosure is secure. Keeping your dog confined will greatly lessen the risk to others in the community.
- Always use a leash when walking your dog in public and treat off leash areas with the same respect as other public areas. If you are going to let your dog run in an off leash area, always make sure you are watching your pet to monitor and control the situation.
- There are additional special responsibilities for owners of restricted dogs and owners should contact Council for details.
Biting and aggression impacts on victims
Being bitten or attacked by a dog can result in serious physical, psychological and emotional effects, not only for the person who is attacked but also for the owner of the attacking dog. Even if the victim is not bitten, the threat of the attack can cause lasting trauma.
Council may declare a dog to be dangerous or menacing:
- Where it has attacked, worried or injured any person or animal
- Where it has been trained to attack people or animals for guard purposes
- Where it has been declared dangerous by another local government or for any other reason prescribed by legislation
There are laws to prevent dog attacks, and should your dog attack a person or another animal, you could be fined. You may also lose your dog. Once a dog has attacked, Council may list the animal as a ‘Dangerous Dog’ or ‘Menacing’ and the owner must comply with the special conditions listed in the Legislation. When a dog is classified as Dangerous or Menacing the owner must:
- Identify the dog by a microchip implant
- Have the dog desexed
- Ensure the dog is always muzzled in a public place
- Display a sign advising of a dangerous dog on the premises
- Pay a applicable fees to keep a dangerous dog
- Maintain the dog’s registration with the Council at all times
- Provide and maintain a proper fence or enclosure to prevent the dog from escaping
Dogs and Disease
Many diseases are specific to dogs and need to be understood and managed to provide a safe environment for all. Bacteria and parasites (including fleas and worms) can be passed onto humans causing anything from discomfort to significant internal damage.
When dogs defecate, the faeces contain parasite’s eggs as well as E-coli bacteria. These can cause significant illness in people including vomiting, diarrhoea, and ear, nose and throat infections. Dog faeces can also contain roundworm larvae which can live in soil for years. Roundworms also live in the intestines of dogs and can be a health risk to humans, especially if children swallow the eggs. Dog owners can reduce this risk through a regular worming programme, removing the dog’s faeces from their back yard and public places and preventing their dog from wandering and scavenging.Special care should be taken to protect children’s play areas from dog litter. Parasites may be transmitted from dog litter directly to children playing in the area. Always wash children’s hands after playing outdoors or with pets. An adult dog should be wormed at least every three months. Puppies also need worming at least every fourteen days until twelve weeks of age and then monthly until six months.Faeces can be a tell-tale sign of your dog’s internal health. You should regularly check your dog’s faeces to make sure it is firm and free of blood and mucus.
Dogs and Leashes
Leashes & exercise
It’s no secret that a well exercised and disciplined dog makes a happy and contented pet, so responsible pet owners need to make time to regularly exercise their animals. Dogs must be leashed at all times in public places. This helps owners to control dogs more easily and increases the safety of other animals and people.
Exercise on a leash
Exercising your dog on a leash provides your pet with positive mental stimulation and is extremely good for their health. Using a leash during exercise reinforces that you are the one in control. It can also help you react better to unexpected situations. Remember that many people are frightened or annoyed by dogs that are not leashed in public areas. While walking at night, Council suggests the use of a reflective device or collar to help others to see your dog.
Leash and exercising courtesy
Some people in the community may not share a love of dogs, so it’s important to respect their space and right to use public areas – pets need to be restrained and kept away from other people. At no time should your dog become a nuisance or impede other people’s enjoyment.
Leash and exercise requirements
Dogs must be leashed at all times outside your property and you can only lead a maximum of two dogs at a time. Being a responsible owner means that you are responsible for the actions of your dog. It is your duty to clean up after your pet and to make sure that your dog isn’t disturbing other people and other animals.
Training and socialising
Training a dog to walk on a leash isn’t difficult – especially if started early. It takes time and patience but it will help your pet become socialised and interact safely with other dogs and people. See your vet or pet shop for further advice or help.
Penalties for not using a leash
Irresponsible owners who fail to walk their dogs on a leash when in public will face penalties including on-the-spot fines.
Pet owners are responsible for the actions of their pets at all times – using a leash will minimise the risk. Proper restraint shows respect for the safety of others and the safety of your pet. Using a leash is the law. Council will always enforce this law fairly and evenly to protect people and pets.
Cats and other animals
Owning animals can provide great joy and companionship but it does come with responsibility.
Controlling your cat
As a responsible cat owner you should make sure your cat is controlled so it doesn’t attack wildlife or disturb neighbours. Feral cats are now declared pests under the new Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act 2002.
Feral cats have a huge impact on Austalia’s native wildlife with a estimated 14 million feral cats in Australia, which feed off small marsupials, lizards, birds and amphibians. If your cat is desexed it cannot breed with feral cats, and the inconvenience of unwanted kittens is also prevented. Desexing is a simple procedure that can be conducted at your local veterinary.
Identifying your cat
While there are no requirements for cats to be registered with Council, for the care of your animal it is highly suggested pets carry some form of identification tag. You can register your cat with Council for a tag fee. It’s good practice to ensure that your cat always wears a collar and identification tag bearing your address or telephone number. Fitting two bells to your cats collar is also a very good idea as this will reduce its chances of successfully hunting native wildlife. Identification is for your pets safety and will allow your cat to be returned, if it cannot find its way home. In the event of your cat being injured, it will also assist carers return your animal quickly. Should your cat become lost, check with neighbours, your local veterinary clinic, or contact Council.
Keeping other animals
Other animals include:
- caged birds,
- reptiles, and
- bee hives.
An Authorised Permit may be required under Councils Subordinate Local Law No.2 (Animal Management) 2011 for keeping of certain animals in an urban area. You can access Council’s Application to keep animals other than cats or dogs form here – Keeping other animals
For more information contact Council’s Compliance Team on 1300 696 272.
Animal traps for hire
Cat Trap Hire
Councils Customer Service Offices have cat traps available for hire. You will be required to complete a Cat Trap Hire Agreement form and pay a $75 bond, refundable upon return of the undamaged trap.
For more information or to arrange hire of the cat trap please visit your local Customer Service Office or call Council on 1300 696 272.
Dog Trap Hire
For the hire of a dog trap for a domestic dogs, please contact Councils Compliance Team on 1300 696 272.