Introduction of annual permits for non-desexed cats and restricted dogs

New rules are in place from 1 July 2020

The NSW Government is introducing annual permits for non-desexed cats and restricted and dangerous dogs as part of its commitment to promoting responsible pet ownership and improving animal welfare standards. From 1 July 2020, pet owners will be able to pay for annual permits using the NSW Pet Registry website or through their local council.

What are the new annual permits about?
From 1 July 2020 owners of cats not desexed by four months of age will be required to pay an $80 annual permit in addition to their one-off lifetime pet registration fee. Owners of dogs of a restricted breed or formally declared to be dangerous will also be required to pay a $195 annual permit in addition to their one-off lifetime pet registration fee.

Why are annual permits being introduced?
Annual permits for non-desexed cats will create a stronger incentive to desex cats, which will in turn improve their health and wellbeing, including reducing the risk of some cancers. Improving desexing rates will also lower demand on pounds and shelters, reduce euthanasia rates, and help to address concerns about feral, stray, and roaming cats and their effect on wildlife.

The Government has also made a one-off $10 reduction to the lifetime cat registration fee to encourage higher registration rates and adoption of cats from pounds and shelters. Annual permits for dangerous and restricted dogs will improve community safety by helping to reduce ownership of high-risk dogs and encouraging owners to better manage the behaviour of their animal.

How can I avoid the annual permit?

  • desex your cat by four months of age, or request an exemption from your vet*
  • register your cat before 1 July 2020
  • don’t own a restricted dog
  • manage your dog’s behaviour to ensure that it’s not declared dangerous
  • if you are a breeder, join a recognised cat breeding body

*Cats that cannot be desexed, either temporarily or permanently, are exempt from paying an annual permit. A certificate from your vet is required to qualify for this exemption.

What breeds are restricted in NSW?
Restricted dog breeds are the pit bull terrier, American pit bull terrier, Japanese tosa, Argentinian fighting dog, Brazilian fighting dog, and canary mastiff. A dog can also be declared to be one of, or a cross-breed of, one of these restricted breeds.

What is a dangerous dog?
Dogs of any breed can be formally declared dangerous by a council or court if the dog, without provocation has attacked or killed a person or animal, repeatedly threatened to attack or repeatedly chased a person or animal, or is kept or used for hunting.

How will pet owners pay for the annual permits?
From 1 July 2020, pet owners will be able to pay for annual permits using the NSW Pet Registry website, or through their local council. Anyone registering a cat on the NSW Pet Registry will be informed that they must pay for an $80 annual permit if their animal is not desexed by four months of age.

What is the penalty if pet owners don’t have an annual permit and get caught?
Pet owners who fail to obtain an annual permit risk an on-the-spot fine of $700 for restricted or dangerous dogs and $400 for non-desexed cats. If taken to court, maximum penalties of $6,600 for restricted or dangerous dogs and $5,500 for non-desexed cats may apply. Local councils will have primary responsibility for enforcing the new requirement consistent with other companion animal management practices.

Where can I get assistance to desex my pet?
AWL NSW has volunteer branches across NSW who offer subsided desexing vouchers for local pensioner cardholders and low-income earners in their community. Click here to find the contact details of your local AWL NSW branch. You can also visit www.ndn.org.au to find subsidised desexing services in your area.

Buying or adopting a cat or dog
Deciding to introduce a new cat or dog into your family is an exciting time. By law, anyone selling or giving away a cat or dog in NSW needs to use an identification number in any advertisement. This number will be either:

  • a microchip number
  • a breeder identification number OR
  • a rehoming organisation number

This number will help you to find out more information about the cat or dog that is advertised. If you see an advertisement that does not include an identification number, or you suspect an advertisement includes a false number, you should lodge a complaint here.

Do your research
When considering buying or adopting a cat or dog, you should always do your research first:

  • Make sure you can meet the animal’s needs. You need to understand the breed, the animal’s characteristics, expected lifespan, and how much time and money is needed to look after the cat or dog
  • Consider introducing a new cat or dog to any existing pets, and get advice if you’re unsure whether the animals will be compatible.
    Make sure your children know how to safely interact with your cat or dog
  • Contact the breeder or seller if you have any questions about the origin of a cat or dog
  • Research the breeder or seller and, if possible, visit the facility where the animal has been bred or is being housed in order to assess the animal’s living conditions and welfare
  • Check if the cat or dog is up to date with vaccinations, flea and worm treatments
  • Check if the animal is microchipped and registered and whether annual permits are needed.

Check the NSW Pet Registry
Use the identification number to check the NSW Pet Registry to confirm the number is valid. A microchip number search will provide you with information about what the owner has recorded as the breed, *** and age of the cat or dog, whether it is desexed and whether or not it is already registered. The NSW Pet Registry will also let you know whether an annual permit is needed to keep the animal.

A breeder identification number search will also display any recorded business names so that you can do further research, make informed purchasing decisions and help support good animal welfare outcomes. A rehoming organisation number search will display the name and address of the relevant rehoming organisation.

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