Aussiecats takes on the new local cat laws in Western Australia

Rosemary Donald asked:

In WA local laws are being introduced in several shires in relation to the keeping of cats. The City of Joondalup have formalised laws which will come into effect in October 2009. Other shires are testing these new laws over the next 12 months before compulsory registration of cats is enforced and the application of fines.

These laws aim to promote responsible cat ownership, welfare and safety of domestic cats and to assist in the prevention of nuisances to the community caused by cats.

Unfortunately for cat owners there is presently no avenue of disputing these laws with the individual shires nor dispute the decisions made under them. These laws have the potential to disrupt and damage relations between neighbours and encourage vigilantes to target several cats in one street just because they don’t like cats.

There are some variations in these local laws depending on which shire your suburb falls in, the main requirements are:-

1. The registration of cats may be compulsory for each cat you own or only for 3 – 6 cats.

2. All registered cats within the Shire shall be sterilized.

3. Cat owners shall ensure their cats are identified by a collar and tag with their identification details including address and telephone number of the owner or be micro-chipped with the contact information of the owner.

4. A cat shall not be in a public place unless it is under effective control; a cat shall not be in designated place specified in a schedule under the local law in particular protected flora & fauna areas. A cat shall not be on private premises where a complaint by the owner or occupier of the premises has been made to the City in relation to the cat’s unwanted presence on the property.

Penalties

Contraventions to these local laws may incur a fine as nominated by your Shire or the impoundment of your cat by an authorised person which includes a Shire Officer or the occupant/owner of a private residence. If a complaint is made by a neighbour to the Shire about your cat, the Shire Advocate or a Shire Ranger will contact you directly as to the nature of the complaint and remedies expected.

Note: you cannot be forced to fully enclose your cat currently under these local laws, only to keep your cat inside during the hours of 9pm to 6am each day.

Where an unidentified cat is impounded and not collected within 7 days of its impoundment the Shire can offer the cat for sale, cause the cat to be destroyed or cause the cat to be rehoused.

How these Local Cat Laws affect Real People…

Trapping cats and removing them from their own street and neighborhood under these new local laws is an emotional issue for the cat owner, their immediate family and for other pets in the household. Children are particularly affected when a beloved pet goes missing as are the elderly and those pet owners who have had their cats for a many years.

With the urban sprawl in Australia the advent of much smaller block sizes for home owners means we are nearer to our neighbours than ever before. Surely there has to be some realism to these new cat laws and equality & fairness for cat owners to also protect their cats and have the due process to dispute complaints.

Aussiecats.com is a new website set up for cat owners in Australia to publicly protest against these new cat laws.  Presently cat owners have no rights to dispute complaints made against their cats under these new laws nor are there any legal avenues to protect your cat being trapped by a neighbour.  Game on…

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