Annual registration for cats as well as dogs and a roll-out of cat containment rules across Canberra’s older suburbs are recommended in the Better Suburbs Statement released today (18 September) by the ACT Government.
At present, dogs are registered for life and cats are not registered at all and the Statement says a system for annual registration of dogs and cats would enable the establishment of a centralised government database to assist and enforce responsible pet ownership.
It says issues have been raised by both the Government and community that the data the Government currently has is outdated and inaccurate for cat and dog ownership in Canberra with the current lifetime registration scheme.
The Statement says all new suburbs must be cat containment suburbs, and Transport Canberra and City Services should develop a planned roll-out of cat containment for Canberra’s older suburbs.
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Last month the new Ginninderry suburbs of Strathnairn and Macnamara were added to the cat containment areas in the ACT, along with a large area near the Gungahlin Marketplace shopping centre.
Current cat containment areas include Bonner, Coombs, Crace, Denman Prospect, Forde, Jacka, Lawson, Molonglo, Moncrieff, Taylor, Throsby and Wright and The Fair at Watson.
The Better Suburbs Statement says these measures will promote responsible pet ownership in Canberra and aim to achieve improved community safety; improved data collection and record keeping on ACT pets; improved services to recover lost pets; improved efficiency of regulatory costs; and protection of native fauna.
It envisages cooperation with private enterprises; and recommends the removal of pet restrictions in commercial areas and workplaces.
The Statement says there should be a clear transition process from lifetime to annual registration.
To ensure a smooth transition and compliance, the changes and what the registration fees are being used for should be clearly explained to pet owners.
There should be a focus on education and better enforcement but with amnesties to encourage compliance.
For example, getting the owner to agree to register and microchip their pet rather than taking it to the pound; or providing a timeframe of no more than 12 months to complete registration and micro-chipping.
On the vexed issue of dog attacks, the community should be able to report incidents online.
The Better Suburbs Statement will guide Canberra’s suburban development and city services up to 2030 including the service priorities for the next four years.
It is the product of a year-long community consultation that used a deliberative democracy process including a number of Citizens Forums.
It can be found at https://www.yoursay.act.gov.au/BetterSuburbs.