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Fail to Apply to Register a Dog or Cat

All dogs and cats over the age of three months must be registered with the local Council in which the dog or cat is kept. Failure to do so is an offence under section 10(1) of the Domestic Animals Act 1994.
Cases related to this offence will be heard at the Magistrates’ Courts.
 
Elements of the offence
The prosecution must prove:
  • That the accused’s dog or cat resides at premises within the municipality alleged; and
  • The dog or cat is not registered with that municipality.
Examples of Fail to Apply to Register a Dog or Cat
  • You own a dog or cat that is older than three months old without registering it with the local council.
  • You move into a new house in a new municipality and fail to register your dog or cat with that council.
Legislation
The legislation which deals with this offence is section 10(1) of the Domestic Animals Act 1994.1


[1] The owner of a dog or cat must apply to register that dog or cat with the Council of the municipal district in which the
 
The main defence to this sort of charge, if you are not pleading guilty, would be a factual dispute.

Questions in cases like this
  • How old is your dog or cat?
  • Have you registered your dog or cat with the local council?
  • Does the dog or cat live with you?

Maximum penalty and court that deals with this charge

The offence of (s10(1) of the Domestic Animals Act 1994) carries a fine of 20 penalty units ($3,223.80) as the highest possible sentence.

You would not normally get a lawyer for a case like this as the fine will generally be less than the lawyers’ fees. There is also the possibility of having a case such as this dealt with by way of diversion.

Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts
From 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2016, there were a total of 3,768 cases (5,378 charges) of Fail to Apply to Register a Dog or Cat that were heard in the Magistrates’ Courts of Victoria. These cases resulted mostly (92.7%) in fines but there were still a few that resulted in an adjourned undertaking/discharge/dismissal (7.1%), Community Correction Order (0.2%), and imprisonment (0.1%).

Majority of those who were fined were in the “$500 < $1,000” category (42.1% for aggregate and 0.1% for non-aggregate). The highest category imposed was “$20,000 or more” but this happened in only 1.2% (aggregate) of those who were fined.

There were only 2 cases that resulted in imprisonment and both cases led to a prison term of “3 < 6 months”.2


[2] SAC Statistics – Domestic Animals Act 1994 (Vic) : s 10(1) – fail to apply to register a dog or cat < https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/magistrates_court/94_81_10_1.html >