Responsible Pet Ownership
Australians have one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. Pets provide their owners with companionship, fun, and according to studies better health. In return we need to become a responsible pet owner. Being a responsible pet owner means more than just feeding your pet. Caring for your pet takes commitment, time and effort.
- Consider the responsibility of owning a pet and ensure that you can meet the animal’s needs. Some of these responsibilities can be quite costly so ensure that you can afford to care for the animal for the duration of its life.
- It is vital to consider the type of pet that will suit your lifestyle and commitment level.
- Research different breeds and choose a breed that is appropriate for you in terms of size, exercise required, level of grooming required, potential medical problems, disposition, and need for socialisation. Try Select a Pet or a similar program to gain an idea of the breed that will best suit you.
- Remember that puppies and kittens need a lot of care and attention – if you don’t have time then consider adopting an older pet.
- Consider whether you should get two pets as companions for each other if you are away from home during the day.
- If you already have a pet at home consider how bringing a new animal into the home will be received by existing pets.
- Consider where you will get your new pet from. Get your puppy/kitten from a reputable breeder or consider giving an older dog/cat a good home by adopting from a shelter/animal rescue organisation.
A puppy farm (also known as a puppy factory or puppy mill) is a mass production facility that breeds puppies for profit. Female dogs are continually mated to produce litter after litter of puppies, and both the puppies and their mother are more often then not kept in poor conditions that fail to meet the dogs’ behavioural, social and/or physiological needs.
Breeding dogs in these poor conditions is a primary animal welfare concern. So if you are considering buying a puppy only ever buy a puppy from a reliable source. Check first with the RSPCA or animal rescue organisation to see whether they have puppies to re-home, otherwise contact a responsible and reputable dog breeder.
Some ideas on the right questions to ask a breeder can be found at RSPCA’s Smart Puppy Buyers Guide
As a Companion Animal owner you have some responsibilities to the animal and other members of the community. To find out more about these responsibilities visit Council’s Companion Animals page.
If you can no longer care for your rabbit or small pets such as hamsters, guinea pigs, rats or mice, make sure you re-home your pet or take it to a shelter. Never let it go in your backyard or bushland. Fish should not be flushed down the drain as they may impact on the local waterway.
As a dog owner, under the Companion Animals Act 1998, you are required to pick up after your dog immediately when out walking or playing, and dispose of dog faeces appropriately. Council provides doggy bags at bin stations in its parks and reserves for your use – so do the right thing! If you are caught not picking up after your dog a fine can be issued.
Seeing dog poo on the pavement, in the park, or on your front lawn is not pleasant or aesthetically pleasing. It could also cause a health hazard so please consider your community and pick up after your dog.
When in a public place dogs must be kept on leash except in a designated off-leash area. When in an off-leash area dogs must be under the effective control of a competent person at all times. To find out where the off-leash and leashed areas are in Mosman visit Where to Walk Your Dog.
All cats are natural hunters. Your cat can be well fed and very happy, but may still hunt native wildlife. Research has shown that cats seek out particular areas for hunting such as bushland.
Native animals that cats like to hunt include; possums, bandicoots, marsupial mice, gliders, bats, snakes, lizards, frogs, and birds. Young animals are particularly vulnerable, such as baby birds or possums.
Cats may spread disease to native animals through bites and scratches. For example, a disease known as toxoplasmosis, which can cause blindness and damage to the nervous and respiratory systems, can be passed through a cat’s saliva to animals and even people. Wound infection is common in native animals after a cat attack and few survive.
For the safety of your cat it is best to keep them indoors. Cats allowed outside to roam can be at risk of getting run over or attacked by other animals. They are also more exposed to disease, parasites, poisons and traps. It is most important that your cat is kept indoors between dusk and dawn – as this is the time that they will most likely hunt native wildlife. All cats should wear a collar with two bells attached to warn animals of the cat’s presence.
Here are a few simple ideas of how what you can do as a responsible pet owner to help encourage and protect native wildlife in your backyard and neighbourhood:
- Provide a dog/cat free area in your yard for birds to feed and lizards to sunbake without fear of being chased.
- Provide a birdbath for drinking and bathing that is out of reach of your pet.
- Provide a possum-nesting box and place it high up in a tree.
- Report injured wildlife to organisations such as WIRES and Sydney Wildlife.
- Plant native plants and shrubs. Dense prickly ones are especially good as they provide habitat and shelter.
- Keep cats in at night – this saves wildlife and reduces the risk of your cat being injured. If you want to keep your cat and wildlife safe but still give your cat some ‘outside’ time consider building or installing an outdoor enclosure for your cat.
- Keep your pet away from sensitive areas such as bushland – remember that pets are not allowed in National Parks, and within Council managed bushland reserves dogs must be kept on a leash at all times. To protect native wildlife cats should not be allowed to wander into bushland.
- Plant a native garden, not only do native gardens require less water and maintenance, they also attract native wildlife – birds, lizards, invertebrates, frogs, butterflies and native bees.
- Check that none of the plants or weeds in your garden are poisonous to your pets, and reduce weeds in the garden and dispose of weeds properly so that seed heads are not dispersed.
- Use environmentally friendly/natural fertilisers or bug sprays to reduce impacts of hazardous chemicals / baits on native wildlife or pets.
For more information download the Responsible Pet Ownership brochure: