Animals and Pets


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Wellington Shire Council actively promotes responsible pet ownership, and responds to public requests regarding domestic animal and livestock matters.

Council is required to meet a number of obligations relating to animal management under the Domestic Animals Act 1994.

These responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Providing advice on domestic animal matters
  • Responding to and investigating customer requests/complaints
  • Managing the provision of the Wellington Shire Pound facility
  • Maintaining the domestic animal, restricted breed and the declared dangerous dog registers
  • Impounding of wandering, unwanted/surrendered dogs and cats
  • Managing the feral cat population
  • Undertaking door knock registration checks
  • Investigation of dog attacks
  • Registration and inspection of Domestic Animal Businesses (DABs)
  • Inspection and compliance checks on restricted breeds and declared dangerous dogs
  • Provision of a 52-week 24/7 emergency service
  • Provision of suitably trained and qualified Authorised Officers

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Barking Dogs

Dogs that bark excessively can become a source of irritation for neighbours and others using the local environment. Barking is a natural dog behaviour and some level of barking is deemed acceptable, however excessive barking can become intrusive and create friction between neighbours. One of the duties associated with responsible pet ownership is to ensure dogs do not annoy neighbours by barking excessively.

Before reporting a dog that barks loudly and frequently, Council suggests contacting the dog's owner. By approaching the dog's owner in a polite manner and discussing your concerns you can often resolve the issue as:

  • A dog owner may not realise the barking is a nuisance to neighbours
  • The dog may only bark excessively when the owner is not home
  • The dog owner may be a sound sleeper and does not hear the dog barking.

Why dogs bark

Barking is a natural behaviour for dogs; it is one of the ways they communicate. Excessive barking, however, may be a sign that something is wrong. The first step in solving the problem is to determine why the dog is barking. The following list provides some of the common reasons why a dog may bark:

  • Hungry or thirsty
  • Loneliness
  • Medical condition
  • Inadequate yard space
  • Lack of exercise
  • Fear
  • Boredom
  • Provocation
  • Lack of companionship
  • Behaviour problems
  • Change to family structure
  • Inadequate shelter from the weather
  • Disturbances
  • Movement outside the dog's property

Dogs also bark to alert or warn their owners of something they think might be a threat. This could include barking at animals, the postman, strange noises, or the movement of people or vehicles outside the property.

While it is acceptable for a dog to bark to warn its owners for an intruder, it is the owner's responsibility to train the dog not to bark at normal occurrences such as possums, dogs and cats.

Excessive barking at normal movement/noises from adjoining properties is considered unacceptable behaviour.

Neighbourhood Communication

You should first attempt to discuss the issue with your neighbours prior to lodging a complaint with Council. In most cases, a solution can be found between neighbours through communication.

Neighbours can assist in solving barking dog problems by communicating their concerns and helping identify reasons for excessive barking.

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/she may not be aware of the barking situation.
  • If the dog owner is unapproachable, or you are not comfortable approaching them, try completing the 'Dear Neighbour' letter (available on the link below) and place it in their letterbox.
  • If the neighbour does not take action or does not agree that a problem exists, you may lodge a complaint with Council.

Lodging a complaint with Council

If communicating with your neighbour has failed, you may now start the process of lodging an official complaint with Council by completing a Barking Dog Complaint Form or contacting Council's Local Laws Department.

In order for the Local Laws team to investigate a barking dog complaint you will need to:

  • Identify the address and description of the offending dog/s
  • Be willing to keep a diary of the dog's barking habits over a two-week period noting the date, time, duration of barking, reason for the barking as well as the effect the dog's barking is having on you (see sample diary).
  • Be willing to continue to keep a diary of the dog's barking habits for a further month. This will monitor whether the problem continues or improves as a result of any action taken.
  • Contact other neighbour/s affected who are prepared to corroborate with you about the barking dog/s.

Council Action

On receipt of a barking dog complaint, Council will appoint an Authorised Officer who will:

  • Discuss the barking dog process with you (the complainant). You will then be sent an acknowledgement letter which details the process and contains documentation for you to complete.
  • Advise the dog owner of the complaint, discuss possible solutions and inform them of their responsibilities.
  • Specific action is taken at Council's discretion and Council officers can undertake any or all of the following: A verbal warning to the dog owner; A written letter of warning; or A Notice to Comply issued to abate all nuisance noise immediately.

Council may issue an infringement notice if the dog's owners fails to comply with the notice to abate the nuisance and to proceed with legal action against the dog owner in the Magistrates Court.

*Legal action will not be taken against the dog owner unless the complainant is prepared to testify in the Magistrates Court.

When Council will not take action

  • If the complaint has been received anonymously and Council are unable to contact the complainant to discuss the complaint.
  • If an Authorised Officer determines, that the barking is not an unreasonable nuisance, the complaint will be closed and you will be notified in writing.
  • If you have not done what Council has requested of you, the complaint will be closed and you will need to seek civil action.
  • Council will not get involve in any domestic dispute between neighbours, for this you will need to seek civil action.

If you wish to investigate civil action please contact the Disputes Settlement Centre of Victoria.

Dog Owners

Some simple tips to reduce dog barking:

  • Make sure that the dog has food, water and shelter from weather.
  • If the dog is barking at people it can see passing by, try blocking the dog's view.
  • If the dog barks at regular disturbances such as children walking to school or rubbish trucks, keep the dog inside or in an enclosed area at these times.
  • Make sure that you do not reward your dog for barking too much. Don't let the dog inside or give it attention when it barks. Instead give the dog attention when it is quiet.
  • If the dog races along a path or fence barking at passing distractions, put barriers or obstacles in the dog's way to slow down.
  • Ensure that the dog has adequate exercise and obedience training.
  • If the dog is being left alone for long periods of time, ensure you leave it items such as toys to provide stimulation.
  • Teach the dog to stop barking on command. When the dog is barking give a firm command such as cease and call the dog to you. Praise the dog when it stops barking.
  • An anti-barking collar may work for some barking dogs. Citronella spray collars can be effective and are harm free for dogs.

If it is not clear what is causing the barking, you can consult your vet. If the vet cannot resolve the issue, try an animal behaviour specialist or a dog training organisation.

Wandering / Stray Cats

Firstly, you need to try and establish if the cat is domestic (has an owner) or if it is a stray/ownerless cat.

Domestic Cats (Usually are friendly)

  1. Try and establish where the cat is coming from. This can be done by observing the cat or talking to neighbours.
  2. Talk to the cat owner and explain the situation. The owner may not be aware that their cat is wandering away from their property. If you are uncomfortable talking with the cat owner or if they are unapproachable, try placing a polite letter in their letterbox advising that their cat has been observed trespassing and requesting that their cat is contained to their property.
  3. If the above steps do not resolve the situation or you are unable to find the cat owner you may try and secure the cat in a suitable box or carrier and deliver it to the Wellington Shire Council Pound and Animal Aid Shelter or contact Council and request a Local Laws Officer attend to collect the cat.

Stray/Ownerless Cats (Shy and timid around humans)

For stray or timid cats you may hire a cat trap from us by contacting Council. Cat traps require a $67.00 deposit (refunded when trap is returned in good condition).


Wellington Shire Council is not legislatively authorised to deal with issues relating to wildlife.

For enquiries regarding wildlife (eg. snakes, birds, possums etc.) please visit the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning website.

Domestic Animal Businesses (DAB's)

In Victoria, the Domestic Animals Act 1994 defines Domestic Animal Businesses as any of the following:

  • A Council pound
  • A dog training establishment
  • A pet shop
  • An animal shelter
  • An establishment boarding dogs or cats
  • An establishment that is rearing dogs or cats
  • A dog and/or cat breeding business - where there are three or more fertile females and animals are sold (whether a profit is made or not), and the proprietor is not a member of an Applicable Organisation. If the proprietor is a member of an Applicable Organisation, they are exempt from registering as a breeding Domestic Animal Business if they have less than 10 fertile female animals AND no more than 2 are not registered with an Applicable Organisation.

All domestic animal businesses operating in Wellington Shire must be registered annually and comply with the appropriate mandatory Code of Practice. This includes annual inspection of the facilities prior to registration each year.

Further information regarding Domestic Animal Businesses can be found on the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources website. If you would like to discuss registering as a domestic animal business, please contact us.

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