Pet ownership

Boy and dog

Responsible ownership

If you own a pet, you must:

  • Register each cat and dog you own over the age of 3 months.  You may need to also apply for a permit if you multiple pets.
  • Ensure each pet you own is microchipped
  • Make sure that each pet wears a valid Council registration tag
  • Keep your pets and animals confined to your property
  • Make sure your dog doesn’t bark persistently
  • Obey all Council orders about having your dog on a leash and disposing of your dog’s droppings
  • Stop your pets from straying onto another person’s property
  • Prevent your dog from chasing or attacking other people or animals 
  • Not be a restricted breed dog

Register and microchip your pets

Every dog and cat over the age of three months in Victoria must be registered with the Council in which they reside. New dog and cat registrations can be made anytime throughout the year.

Existing registrations must be renewed annually by the 10th of April.

Before registering, your dog also needs to be microchipped. Speak to your vet or visit Animal Welfare Victoria for more information about microchipping your pet.

Register your pet

Registering your pet can be a safeguard to help with the return of your pet if it becomes lost. In addition, your registration fees help provide important pet related services within the Council such as animal control and community education about responsible pet ownership.

Registered pets received a lifetime tag which is required to be on the pet when the animal is outside the owner’s premises. If your pet loses its tag a new one can be purchased from Council. Not only is it a legal requirement for your pet to have identification, but the tag will also assist the return of your pet in the event that it becomes lost. Council Officers can identify your pet by the registration number on the tag, and let you know your pet has been found.

Pets currently registered with Council receive a ‘Free Ride Home’ when they are collected by Rangers for the first time.

It is also a good idea for your pet to wear a separate ID tag with its name, phone number and address, so that you can be alerted if your pet is found outside your property.

Restricted breed dogs

It is an offence to have a restricted breed dog. There are five specific breeds of dog banned from being imported into Australia:

  • American Pit Bull Terriers (or Pit Bull Terriers)
  • Perro de Presa Canarios (or Presa Canario)
  • Dogo Argentinos
  • Japanese Tosas
  • Fila Brasileiros

American Pit Bull Terriers (or Pit Bull Terriers) Perro de Presa Canarios (or Presa Canario) Dogo Argentinos Japanese Tosas Fila Brasileiros.

Restricted breed dogs (Animal Welfare Victoria)

Multiple pets

Depending on the type and number of animals you wish to keep, and the size of your property, you may require a permit.

Maximum number of animals allowed at your property without a permit
Type of animal Residential
Farming zones less than 0.5ha & rural living zones Farming zones greater than 0.5ha
Dogs (includes working dogs) 2 2 5
Cats 2 2 2
Poultry 10 40 No limit
Turkeys and geese 0 0 30
Roosters 0 0 20
Domestic birds (includes pigeons) 30 30 100
Ferrets 2 4 10
Guinea pigs 6 6 10
Domestic rabbits 2 6 10
Domestic mice 6 10 10
Pigs 0 0 6
Horses, donkeys, mules, sheep and goats 0 2 No limit
Camels 0 0 No limit
Cattle 0 1 No limit
Ostriches, emus and peacocks 0 0 No limit
Any other livestock or agricultural animal 0 0 No limit

Apply for a permit for excess animals or birds


Whilst it is not mandatory to desex your pet, it does assist in reducing roaming behaviour or territorial aggression. Council also offers a reduced registration fee for desexed pets. If you require financial assistance you may contact Swan Hill Neighbourhood House to check if you are eligible for the No Interest Loan Scheme to assist with desexing your pet.

Keep your animals confined

You are legally required to keep your pets and animals confined to your property. This means your yard must have:

  • a closed gate that your dog cannot jump, get under or through
  • an escape-proof fence that your dog cannot jump, get under or through

Visitors to your property should have safe access to your front door without being stopped by your pet. If you don't confine your animals, you may get a fine or your animals could be impounded.  

Cat enclosures

Cats don't need to roam. If their basic needs are met, cats enjoy longer and healthier lives when safely contained to the property. A cat enclosure is a good option to contain your cat to your property. When building or purchasing a cat enclosure it is important to ensure adequate ventilation. It is also recommended to ensure you provide enough enrichment within the space, as this will help prevent them from being bored or developing any behavioural issues.

When training your cat to adapt to confinement it is recommended to skip the morning feed and feed your cat inside your house of an evening and to not let them out again until morning. You can then control and gradually extend the time your cat spends confined.

Adult cats used to roaming outdoors may have difficulty adjusting to confinement. If you are having issues, it is recommended to speak with your local vet.

Nuisance Issues

Did you know that it is an offence to allow your cat to remain on private property without the owners permission. Property owners may trap cats found trespassing on their property.

Serious problems can arise from outdoor roaming in cats, especially during nighttime, as approximately 80% of cat accidents occur during this period. Roaming cats risk getting hit by cars, engaging in fights leading to injuries, contracting fatal diseases like feline AIDS, and becoming lost. Additionally, roaming cats pose a threat to native wildlife as even well-fed cats may hunt. Furthermore, they may irritate neighbours through behaviours such as spraying, fighting, yowling, and digging in gardens.

Control your dog

All dogs must be on a leash at all times on all streets and roads within residential areas, public reserves, shopping precincts and within 10 metres of all playgrounds and BBQ areas.

Council currently has one specifically designated off-leash dog park which is located at Barry Steggall Park, Tower Hill.

  • Ensure your dog is kept on a leash at all times unless in the designated off-leash dog park
  • Ensure your dog is kept under effective control at all times, whether they are on or off-leash
  • Ensure your dog does not threaten or rush at any person or animal
  • Ensure your dog is wearing its Council registration tag

Nuisance Issues

Other people may make complaints about dogs including:

  • Dogs repeatedly at large on another property without permission
  • Dogs wandering outside their owner’s premises
  • Dogs rushing at or chasing a person or animal
  • Dogs attacking or biting a person or animal
  • Excessive animal numbers
  • Excessive barking (see information about barking dogs)

Pick up after your dog

As a responsible pet owner you should ensure that you clean up after your dog. Council does have multiple dog waste bag stations through the municipality. You can find specific locations on Council’s Interactive Online Map

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Dog attacks

Dog attacks can be very traumatic for those involved and Council takes these matters seriously. It is important to report any incidents of an attack to Council as soon as possible.

Report a dog attack

Domestic Animal Businesses

A Domestic Animal Business (DAB) is a Council registered business that includes pet shops, dog training establishments, shelters and pounds, boarding establishments and breeding businesses.

If you own between 3 and 10 fertile female cats or dogs, are not a member of an Applicable Organisation and breed to sell you are classified as a DAB which must be registered with Council.

Source Numbers are now required to microchip any cats or dogs born after 1 July 2020. It is also now a requirement if you advertise for sale or to giveaway cats or dogs in Victoria.

Notify Council of any changes

If your cat or dog is registered with us, we need to know if:

  • your address or contact details change
  • your concession details change
  • your pet has recently been desexed
  • you pet is no longer living in the municipality
  • your pet has passed away

Update your pet registration details

Surrender your pet

Try re-homing your pet first

If you want to re-home your pet, please check with your local vet and animal welfare agencies before surrendering your pet to Council. 

Council will only try to re-home animals that have passed a behavioural assessment.  Under the Code of Practice for the Management of Cats and Dogs in Pounds and Shelters animals must not be available to be re-homed if they are:

  • Aggressive
  • Anti-social
  • Have known issues such as excessive barking or repeatedly escape from yards

Surrendering your pet to Council

If an owner is no longer able or willing to care for their dog or cat, Council must accept that animal. Surrendering a cat or dog means you are giving up ownership of your animal to Council.

When surrendering an animal you must:

  • Be the owner of that animal (proof may be required)
  • Sign the surrender form
  • Make an appointment with Regulatory Services before delivering any animal

Council will not collect any surrendered animal from a residence for euthanasia.

After a 48-hour cooling off period, Council will attempt to re-home the animal. Council will not re-home any animals due to:

  • Disease
  • Injury
  • Behaviour
  • Unsuitability for adoption

Where considered appropriate after an assessment of the animal, Council may seek to re-home the cat or dog.

If you can't keep your pet (Animal Welfare Victoria)