Cats

Cats are popular pets and we wish to encourage responsible pet ownership, effectively manage cats and enhance community safety.

Local Laws

Mareeba Shire Council has laws and regulations (Local Law 2) concerning animals. It is an offence to:

  • Keep more than two cats on any property
  • To allow cats to wander onto public or other private property
  • Or to keep cats without a microchip

Failure to abide by these laws and regulations may lead to your cat being impounded and you could be fined. For more information, refer to Council’s Local Laws.

Microchip and desex your cat

  • Cats born after 1 July 2009 must be microchipped before three months old
  • Cats born before 1 July 2009 need to be microchipped if they are being sold or given away
  • De-sexing is encouraged, but not compulsory

It is an offence to keep a cat without a microchip and you may be fined for this however the main reason for microchipping your cat is to increase the chance of being reunited with your cat if it is lost or impounded.

If your cat is not microchipped and is impounded privately or by Council you may not be able to be reunited with your cat quickly.  There is a chance that without a microchip to identify that it has an owner it may be considered to be a stray or feral cat.

Cat enclosures

Confine your cat to your property.

To prevent nuisance to your neighbours and to protect our local wildlife, we encourage that you confine your cat at night. Cats are most active at night, and especially at dusk and dawn. This coincides with activity periods for much of our Australian wildlife, placing native animals at risk. Pets can, and do, kill wildlife.

Stray cats will be delivered to the Council Pound where they will be held for a short period. If you have lost your pet, contact the Pound or check Councils website for impounded animals. 

There are lots of ways to create a cat enclosure:

  • Adapt an aviary
  • Enclose a section of your veranda with chicken wire
  • Build a cat proof fence by attaching small gauge chicken wire to the top of an existing fence and angled into your property (neighbours consent should be sought before modifying the top of an adjoining fence)

Don’t forget, enclosed cats always need food, water, a litter tray and a warm sleeping area. For longer periods in a cat enclosure, try giving your cat:

  • Climbing and scratching poles with perches
  • Window perches to sunbathe
  • Shelter from the sun, wind, rain, cold and hot weather
  • Cat toys to encourage exercise!

Dogs

All dogs residing on Urban/Residential, Rural Residential, Rural Properties must be registered annually.

All dogs are required to be registered for easy identification. Registering and microchipping your dogs is the best way to locate owners should the animals be found wandering. Microchipping can be done at your closest Veterinary Surgery. Dogs must wear a registration tag at all times.

Dogs must be kept in a proper enclosure that prevents them from wandering or escaping. The minimum standards for keeping dogs are:

  • enclosures must be cleaned regularly and waste disposed so as not to create a nuisance or health hazard
  • adequate food and water must be provided
  • adequate space must be provided for each dog
  • not permiting any dog to be kept in such a manner as to be a nuisance, likely to cause an injury or health hazard.

A well exercised and disciplined dog makes a happy and contented pet. Your pet should be walked every day especially if you have an active breed or large dog.

Dogs must be leashed at all times outside your property and under continuous supervision. You are responsible for the actions of your dog, therefore it is your duty to clean up after your pet (dispose of faeces in a sanitary manner) and make sure that your dog is not a nuisance.

An off-leash dog park is available at Doyle Street Mareeba. More information can be found here.

You must notify Council of any change in details to a dog’s registration such as address, ownership, desexing or replacement tag. Failure to update such details may lead to the issue of an infringement.

Barking Dogs

All dogs bark, but some barking dogs become a real nuisance – greatly reducing the quality of life for neighbours and increasing neighbourhood tensions. Ongoing barking is often a symptom of another problem. Taking time to understand what makes dogs bark, especially your pet or other dogs in your neighbourhood, is the first step towards solving this problem, both for the dog involved and your neighbours.

  • Loneliness – dogs are social animals
  • Stress due to separation from an owner
  • Conditioned behaviour – where an owner rewards the dog for barking
  • Dominance – barking until they get what they want
  • Attention seeking
  • Boredom
  • Fear – dogs bark at people, other dogs or objects when scared
  • Threat or territory – something unfamiliar may be a threat
  • Play
  • Breed – some breeds have a reputation for barking

Methods of Control

The most important first step is to work out why your dog is barking. Once you know the symptom, you can find the cure.

  • Avoid conditioning: do not reward your dog if it barks for the response alone
  • Companionship: before leaving home turn on a radio, give your dog an old coat or box of shoes belonging to you
  • Never call your dog after it has stopped barking and then punish it
  • Regular exercise: where possible, walk your dog twice a day
  • Access to the house: if you can let the dog inside the house, provide your dog with a single room where odours relating to you relax the dog (denning principal)
  • Obedience training: a dog can be trained to be alone, and bark only on command
  • Avoid stimulus, distract your dog with another form of reward at the time it usually barks at the postie
  • Fence design: a fence correctly designed to restrict your dogs vision will reduce barking
  • Anti barking devices, used in conjunction with obedience training
  • Discipline: show your dog that you are the head of the house, dogs are pack animals and need to be shown where they stand in relation to the family unit

 Remember barking dog problems can be cured!

How to recognise and treat your dogs behavioural problems

  • Do I have good control over the dog?
  • What is my relationship with my dog, emotional, overattached?
  • How much do I value my dog?
  • What amount of time and investment have I put into my dog?
  • What is my attitude to my dogs behavioural problem?
  • How much time do I spend with my dog?
  • Does my dog understand that I am the pack leader?

Assess and define your dog

  • What sex is my dog, is it desexed?
  • What is my dogs breed? Look for typical problems:- fearfulness, dominance, aggression or arousal in working breeds
  • My dogs temperament is:- timid, confident, unresponsive, intrusive, attention seeking or easily bored?
  • Is my dog obedient? Try come, sit, drop, stay
  • Is my dog responsive to my commands? Look for responsiveness and enthusiasm
  • Who is the boss? Me or my dog, determine your dogs willingness to comply with obedience commands
  • Reactiveness; assess your dogs arousal point
  • What is my dogs history? Where purchased (pound, refugee, petshop) with pervious experience and influences
  • What is my dog’s home environment like? Does it have an uninteresting yard, high fences, no outlook, boring?

Assess your problem

  • What makes my dog bark?
  • When, where and why does my dog bark day/night, when I’m not home?
  • What happens after my dog barks? Does there appear to be any form of stress release for the dog?
  • Is the behaviour normal for my dog? (talk to the Local Law Officers or your local veterinarian)
  • Is my dogs behaviour learned or conditioned
  • How long has my dog been barking?
  • How did the behaviour problem start? What were the circumstances?
  • Look at the length of times this behaviour has been going on; has it been gradual, is it occasional or progressive?
  • What have I tried? Assess your attempts to prevent the barking and look at the results

Once you have assessed yourself, your problem, and defined your dog, use the information to determine what you can do, or who you can ask for assistance in preventing your dog from barking and becoming the neighbourhood nuisance!

To avoid boredom you need to give your dog plenty to do when it is alone.

  • If your dog likes water, place a sprinkler on a timer to come on a couple of times a day so the dog can play
  • Use old drink bottles or milk containers, half fill them with water or stones, your dog will roll them like a toy. They also make a good chew toy (empty).
  • There are food reward toys available (talk to your veterinarian or pet shop)
  • Make sure your dog has some dry food and plenty of water
  • Give your dog a bone when you leave the house, this will teach your dog that when you leave there is a positive reaction – the bone.
  • A variety of toys (balls, chew toys, something to climb on)

Excessive barking – What if my neighbours dog barks?

Approach the dog owner as soon as the problem arises, state your case clearly and politely. They may not be aware of the issue.

If you feel uncomfortable talking to the dog owner directly, Council has a friendly barking dog form for neighbours that you can place in their mailbox to make them aware of the nuisance.

If the problem persists after a week or two, speak to the owner again to provide feedback on the control method. If the dog owner is unapproachable, or does not agree that the problem exists, you should contact Council for further advice.

Excessive barking is an offence and Council staff will respond to reported barking problems. Initially, the owner will receive an administrative letter. If the problem continues and further complaints are reported, Council staff will investigate.

Irresponsible owners who fail to comply with Council recommendations will face significant penalties.

Dog Attacks

All dog owners hope their pet won’t show aggression towards other animals or people, but it can happen for many reasons. Often it is a sign of irresponsible ownership and is against the law. Pet owners are always responsible and legally liable for the actions of their animals.

We need to protect our community from the danger and fear of dog attacks. People have a right to feel safe in the community. It is the responsibility of pet owners to ensure people are protected and public areas are safe for everyone to enjoy. Aggressive animals have no place in public areas unless under close and direct supervision.

  • What if I am attacked? Contact the Council and report the attack. Local Laws Officers will contact you to arrange a time to investigate and collect statements.
  • What if my dog is involved in a dog attack? Contact the Council and report the attack. Local Laws Officers will contact you to arrange a time to investigate and collect statements.

Responsible ownership

  • Always supervise children around dogs. Dog play can become rough and may sometimes result in a bite. Constantly monitor your children when a dog is around and never leave babies or young children alone with a dog.
  • Keep children away from a dog if it is sleeping, feeding (especially chewing a bone) or if recovering from an illness or injury.
  • Always check to see that your fencing or dog enclosure is secure. Keeping your dog confined will greatly lessen the risk to others in the community.
  • Always use a leash when walking your dog in public and always make sure that you are watching your pet to monitor and control the situation.

Impact on victims and penalties

Being bitten or attacked by a dog can produce serious physical, psychological and emotional effects, not only for the person who is attacked but also for the owner of the attacking dog. Even if the victim is not bitten, the threat of the attack can cause lasting trauma.

If your dog attacks a person or animal, you could be fined, your dog may be declared dangerous or you may face legal action.

Declared Dangerous Dogs

Once a dog has attacked, Council may list the animal as a “Dangerous Dog” and the owner will have to comply with special conditions listed in local laws. When a dog is classified as dangerous the owner must:

  • Ensure the dog is registered with Council as a dangerous dog
  • Ensure the dog is always muzzled and on a leash in a public place
  • Ensure the dog does not attack or worry another person or animal
  • Display a sign advising of a dangerous dog on the premises
  • Provide and maintain a proper and effective enclosure to prevent the dog from escaping

Nuisance Dogs

A dog becomes a nuisance when it is unrestrained away from the owner’s premises, barks excessively, wanders at large or attacks. Council has the ability to seize any animal causing a nuisance.