Responsible pet ownership

1. Overview

Being a responsible pet owner means you must comply with certain legal obligations under the Companion Animals Act 1998. The main legal requirements of pet ownership are:

  • Have your dog or cat microchipped by a vet.

  • Register your dog or cat on the NSW Pet Registry. 

  • Keep your details current on the NSW Pet Registry.

  • Take all reasonable precautions to prevent your dog from escaping your property by having a closed gate and a fence that your dog cannot push through, jump over or dig under. 

  • Keep your dog under control in public areas.

  • Unless you are in a designated unleashed area, keep your dog restrained on a lead in public spaces.

  • Keep your dog away from prohibited places.

  • When out and about, pick up your dog’s poop using a biodegradable dog tidy bag and drop it in the general rubbish bin.

  • Keep your cat away from wildlife protection areas as well as food preparation areas.

  • If you break any of these laws, you could be issued with a hefty fine. 

2. What is an electronic microchip?

An electronic microchip is a way of permanently identifying your animal. The chip itself is very small – about the size of a grain of rice.

A vet implants the chip just under the animal’s skin, between the shoulder blades at the back of your pet's neck. Each chip has a unique number which is recorded on a database registry along with details about the animal and owner. If your pet becomes lost, vets, animal shelters and local councils will scan your pet for a microchip and contact you via the database.

3. What is the NSW Pet Registry?

The NSW Pet Registry is a database of microchipped and registered cats and dogs that live in NSW. 

By law you must register your dog or cat on the NSW Pet Registry. Creating an online profile of your pet, on the Registry means there is a greater chance you'll be reunited with your furry companion if it becomes lost.  Pocket pets, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, are not required to be registered.

Microchipping, which is done by a vet, does not automatically register your pet on the NSW Pet Registry. Registration is a separate process which must be completed by you after the dog or cat is microchipped. 

To increase your chance of being reunited with your pet if it becomes lost, remember to update your contact details on the NSW Pet Registry every time you move or change phone number. If someone brings your lost pet to the Blacktown Animal Rehoming Centre, we’ll be able to return your pet to you.

For more information about the NSW Pet Registry, go to

4. What areas are prohibited for dogs in NSW?

Dogs are prohibited in the following public places:

  • Within 10 metres of children’s play equipment or playgrounds
  • Food preparation and consumption areas

  • Recreation areas where dogs are declared prohibited 

  • Public bathing areas where dogs are declared prohibited

  • School grounds, unless with the permission of the person controlling the grounds

  • Child-care centres, unless with the permission of the person controlling the centre

  • Shopping areas, unless secured in a vehicle, going to or from a vet or pet shop, or with the permission of the person controlling the centre.

5. Can I let my cat out at night?

Cats are allowed to roam freely in NSW other than in prohibited areas such as food preparation or consumption areas and wildlife protection areas, and provided they are not considered a nuisance. 

There is no law in NSW that says you must keep your cat indoors at night or at other times, but it’s a good idea to do so for your cat’s safety as well as to protect native wildlife. Outdoor cats are at higher risk of injury by cars or other animals, particularly at night. They are also more susceptible to diseases like feline immunodeficiency virus or parasites. 

Do I have to have my cat or dog desexed?

There is no law that says you must have your dog or cat desexed, but desexing is encouraged. Desexing helps reduce the number of animals needing homes in our community.

Desexing can also bring about positive behavioural changes in cats and dogs, such as less wandering or running way or becoming involved in fights over territory or mating partners, becoming more affectionate towards their owners, and reducing spraying (urinating) in the home to mark their territory.

A female cat or dog can have her first litter of kittens or pups at age four or five months, so it’s important to get your cat or dog desexed before they are 12 weeks old.