Information about the laws that apply to owning an animal in NSW.

Cats and dogs must be: 

  • microchipped by 12 weeks of age or before they are sold or given. Whichever happens first
  • registered with the Local Council by six months of age.

Cats and dogs can be registered online through NSW Pet Registry, at your Local Council, or at Service NSW.

A Local Council can issue an owner of a dog or cat with a nuisance order to prevent the nuisance behaviour.

A dog is a nuisance dog if it:

  • consistently roams
  • makes persistent, excessive noise
  • repeatedly defecates on private property
  • repeatedly runs at or chases a person, an animal or vehicle
  • endangers the health of a person or animal
  • repeatedly causes substantial damage.

 A cat is a nuisance cat if it:

  • makes persistent, excessive noise that reasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of a person
  • repeatedly damages anything outside the property. 

A nuisance order applies for six months and can’t be appealed or reviewed.

Local Councils or the Local Court can declare a dog as dangerous if it:

  • has attacked or killed a person or animal (other than vermin, such as rats or mice), without being provoked
  • has threatened to attack or chased a person or animal on more than one occasion, without being provoked
  • is kept for hunting, unless it is only used to locate or retrieve birds, rats or mice.

Local Councils or the Local Court can declare a dog to be menacing if the dog has:

  • has displayed unreasonable aggression towards a person or animal (other than vermin such as rats or mice), or
  • has attacked a person or animal (other than vermin), without being provoked, but without causing serious injury or death.

If you receive a notice of intention to declare the dog to be dangerous or menacing, you have seven days to lodge a written objection with your Local Council. 

You have a right to appeal against a dangerous dog declaration to the Local Court within 28 days. You can’t appeal against a menacing dog declaration. 

If you are an owner of a declared dangerous or menacing dog, you must comply with the strict control requirements. You can be fined if you don’t comply. 

The Local Court can issue a destruction order if your dog attacks a person or animal, or you don’t comply with the control order. 

 For more information, see Declared Dangerous and Menacing Dogs on the Office of the Local Government NSW website.

Some dog breeds are restricted in NSW.

If you own a restricted dog, you must comply with strict control requirements. This includes an annual permit and registration, de-sexing, keeping the dog in an enclosure, placing warning signs on your property, keeping the dog on a leash and muzzled while outside, and ensuring the dog wears a red and yellow striped collar.

You are not allowed to breed, sell or give away a restricted dog unless it is surrendered to the Local Council or animal welfare organisation. 

You must also report an attack or injury to your Local Council within 24 hours.

If the Local Council has given you a notice of intention to declare your dog restricted, you have 28 days to provide a written objection and provide supporting evidence from an approved breed assessor.   

You can’t appeal the decision of the Local Council.

Assistance dogs are highly trained to provide support to people living with a disability. They are also required to be micro-chipped and registered in NSW.  

There are three types of assistance dogs: service dogs, guide dogs and hearing dogs. Assistance dogs are allowed on all public places and public transport, including trains and buses.  

For more information, see Assistance animals on the Office of the Local Government website.

It is an offence to commit an act of cruelty on an animal. 

 Animal cruelty could include:

  • failing to provide medical treatment to an animal
  • neglecting an animal
  • failing to provide food or water, or appropriate living conditions
  • confining an animal inappropriately
  • hurting an animal, for example, by beating it, or killing it.

If you have concerns about the safety or welfare of an animal, you should contact the RSPCA. 

If you lost your dog or cat, you must notify your Local Council within 72 hours. The Local Council can update the microchip record to ‘missing’ until your animal is found. 

 If you find a dog or cat, check the contact details on the collar or tag to locate the owner. If the dog or cat does not have a collar or tag, you must take it to the Local council pound, animal welfare organisation, or local vet within 48 hours.   
You must provide the animal with food and water while it is in your care.

Animals left in pounds are kept for 14 days if they are microchipped and seven days if they are not. The pound can charge a fee before releasing the animal to the owner. Unclaimed animals can be adopted, sold or destroyed.

For information, see Lost and found on the RSPCA website.

You are allowed to keep a pet if you live in an apartment unless the pet causes ‘unreasonable interference’. This means that your pet can’t be a dangerous or restricted animal and must not disturb other residents in the building.

There are by-laws about keeping an animal in your property.

For more information, see Pets in strata on the NSW Government website.