Problems with pets and wild animals
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From time to time, you may be bothered by a pet or a wild animal. The information below will help you if this happens.
Barking dogs and noisy animals
If you are being bothered by a noisy dog or other animal near you, first try and talk to the owner. Maybe the owner doesn't realise how loud the animal is for other people, and will appreciate you telling them. They may not be home when their animal is making noise.
If talking to the owner does not resolve the issue, you can contact us and we will investigate. You must keep a diary of when the dog barks so that we can investigate. You can find the diary and more information in our Dealing with a Barking Dog booklet (PDF).
You can then submit the diary using one of the following options:
- on our eservices website
- by mail to Merri-bek City Council, Locked Bag 10, Brunswick 3056
- in person at a Council Customer Service Centre, the locations of which are on our Contact us page.
After we receive the diary, one of our Animal Management Officers will visit the owner. We also suggest that you talk to the owner before contacting us if you are being bothered by a noisy rooster, bird or any other animal.
Reporting a dog attack
Dog owners must take care to make sure their dog is trained and under control and does not attack anyone. Most dog attacks happen in public places, on the footpath or road, and are very distressing for people. There are tips to assist with preventing dog attacks in the community and making sure your dog does not attack anyone on the Animal Welfare Victoria website.
We take dog attacks very seriously.
How to report a dog attack
You can contact us on 9240 1111 to report a dog attack. This phone line is available 24 hours a day, every day of the week. This can be either an attack that has happened to you, or one that you have seen happen to someone else.
When you call us give us as much information as you can, in particular:
- the time and location of the attack
- your contact details, and/or the contact details of the person who was attacked
- what the dog did
- a description of the dog and the dog's owner
This information helps us to follow up and resolve the issue.
Dangerous and restricted breed dogs
You can find the following information on the Animal Welfare Victoria website:
- information on restricted dog breeds
- information on dangerous dogs
- information on owning a menacing dog
- information on guard dogs
If you own a restricted breed dog, you must comply with a range of requirements, including registering, desexing, microchipping and identifying your dog. You can find out more about registering and microchipping your dog on our Registering your dog page. For information on desexing your dog go to our Pet desexing page.
Restricted breed dogs must be muzzled and leashed when they are exercised off your property.
There is more information about owning a restricted breed dog and the related laws and penalites for this on the Animal Welfare Victoria website. This information can also help you if you have issues with neighbourhood dogs in your area.
If you suspect a dog in your area is unregistered, a restricted breed, or not being kept in legal conditions, you can contact us using the details on our Contact us page. You can also call the State Government hotline on 1300 101 080.
Owning a greyhound
From 1 January 2019, pet greyhounds are no longer required to wear a muzzle in public. This includes retired racing greyhounds who have not undergone and passed a behavioural assessment as part of GRV's GAP. More information is available on the Animal Welfare Victoria website. Pet greyhounds must also remain on a leash in all Merri-bek off-leash dog parks.
Surrendering your pet
There are many reasons owners may no longer be able to care for their pet. In these circumstances you are able to surrender your pet to the Epping Animal Welfare Facility, Lost Dogs Home, Lort Smith or any rescue group or organisation.
If you surrender your pet to Merri-bek City Council, you will need to pay a fee and complete the transfer ownership form. Give us a call on 9240 1111 to discuss your options.
|Dog surrender (concession)||$30|
|Cat surrender (concession)||$30|
Dealing with stray cats
You can borrow a cat trap from us to deal with stray cats getting into your backyard, but we recommend that before you do this, think about other ways to prevent cats coming into your backyard.
This could involve:
- installing garden mesh or chicken wire under the top layer of your soil
- scattering orange and lemon peels, cayenne pepper, chilli pepper flakes, coffee grounds, pipe tobacco, lavender oil, lemon grass oil, citronella oil, peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil or mustard oil on the area the cat is appearing
- getting a motion sensor sprinkler, and move it around your yard every few weeks
- keeping outdoor sandboxes totally covered when your children aren’t playing
- soaking several recycled rags in white vinegar and place them on stakes around your veggies
- stopping anyone in your household from feeding the stray cats
- talking to the owner of the cat about keeping their cat indoors (for example, a polite letter in their letterbox)
For more information, see our Alternatives to cat trapping flyer (DOC 224Kb).
Cat traps for stray cats
A cat trap is made of wire and looks like a rectangle box with a metal plate on the floor. It does not hurt the cat. The Cat Protection Society, Lost Dogs Home and RSPCA Victoria use the same traps to catch stray cats.
You can borrow a free cat trap from us, but there is a waiting period of usually around 8 to 12 weeks. We will deliver the trap to you, and then when you have trapped the cat you need to let us know. You must look after the cat (including feeding it and keeping it warm and out of the sun) until we can pick it up. You must not hurt a trapped cat. Place a blanket over the trap when waiting for us to pick it up.
To borrow a cat trap, call us on 9240 1111.
Once we have collected the cat, we will take it to the Epping Animal Welfare Facility. If the cat has no microchip and it's owner cannot be located, it will be placed for adoption if suitable.
If you used a non-Council cat trap, we cannot collect the cat.
Owning a bird or a chicken
A bird can make a great pet. If you live in a flat, unit, apartment or townhouse, the maximum allowable number of caged non-poultry domestic birds you can have as pets is 5. If you live in a property other than a flat, unit, apartment or townhouse you can keep up to 15 caged non-poulry domestic birds as pets. If you'd like to have more than the allowed number of birds then you need to apply to Council for an excess animal permit which you can learn more about on our Keeping multiple pets page.
If you want to keep more than 4 chickens on your property you also need to apply to Council for an excess animal permit. You also need to apply for this permit if you want to build a chicken coop any closer than 6 metres to a dwelling on another property. You can learn more about how to apply for an excess animal permit on our Keeping multiple pets page.
Caring for your bird
It's important that you look after your bird's health by making sure the cage it is in is big enough, and is located in a comfortable place that is not too hot, sunny, cold or windy and has the appropriate accessories. You must also make sure that you feed your bird the correct diet.
You can find more information about owning a bird and taking care of a bird's welfare needs on the Animal Welfare Victoria website.
To keep chickens on your property you need a secure, strong and lockable chicken coop with nesting boxes and enough space for them to roam during the day.
Please see our Keeping Chickens flyer (PDF 218Kb) for further information on how to keep your chickens happy and healthy and to avoid causing a nuisance to your neighbours.
Snakes and what to do if you see one
In Merri-bek, you may come across a snake. Snakes love warm weather, so you are more likely to see them between October and April. Snakes are usually in bushy areas around creeks, including in backyards located near creeks. This means that around Merri Creek is the perfect place for a snake to find water, food and a place to hide.
Snakes normally avoid people, but may bite if they are disturbed or threatened.
To keep snakes away from your home, you should:
- cut the grass in your garden reguilarly to keep it short
- remove piles of rubbish, rocks, timber, sheets of metal and building materials from your property
If you are doing any work outside, you should wear gloves, layers and protective shoes.
You should also keep your dog away from long grass and bushy areas, as they are curious and might sniff around a snake's hiding place.
If you do see a snake, keep calm and stay away from it. Do not let children and pets near the snake. You can contact a licensed snake handler:
- by searching for 'snake handler' or 'snake catcher' on the Yellow Pages website
- by calling the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning on 136 186
- by calling us on 9240 1111 to get the contact details for a snake handler
If you are bitten by a snake, dial 000 immediately.
Snakes are an important part of our environment and are a protected species under state law. If we understand the risks and avoid places where they live, we can live peacefully alongside them.
Native birds are protected under the 'Wildlife Act 1975'. It is illegal to kill birds and destroy their nests or eggs without a permit. We want to protect all the wonderful native birds in Merri-bek.
However, we understand that it can be scary and sometimes dangerous when you get swooped by a bird. Swooping is when a bird flies close to your head or face and flaps its wings, sometimes attacking you with its beak. Birds usually swoop within 30 to 50 metres of their nest, as they are trying to protect their eggs or young. This happens mostly in winter and spring. In Merri-bek, our most common swooping birds are Australian magpies and the masked lapwing.
You can find more information about how to protect yourself from swooping birds on the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning website.
More information about our program to manage the population of White Ibis at Coburg Lake can be found here.
Protecting wildlife and birds
Moreland has an abundance of wildlife including many kinds of wild birds. Open spaces in Merri-bek such as parks, reserves and creeks provide a habitat for local wildlife and birds.
Please do not feed wildlife and birds in our parks and open spaces as it does the birds more harm than good. Providing wild birds with irregular or inappropriate food can have a negative impact on their health. Feeding native wildlife and wild birds can cause them to be more susceptible to prey, become sick or malnourished as they are not eating their natural foods, and not allow young birds to learn how to forage.
Responsible pet ownership is important in protecting our native wildlife. Keep dogs out of creeks and waterways, and on a leash except where permitted. Keeping you cat indoors helps protect wildlife and keeps your cat safe too. You can read more about responsible cat ownership here.
You can help protect native birds by providing habitat for them in your garden. Find out more about gardening for habitat with our My Smart Garden Program here, or how to get involved in community greening programs here.
You can find more information about protecting wildlife on the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning website.
Foxes and keeping them off your property
Foxes are common in Merri-bek. They rest during the day under houses, sheds, drain pipes and bushes. At night, they may travel through gardens, parks and backyards searching for food.
Foxes will prey on:
- chickens and roosters
- rabbits and guinea pigs
If you have these animals as pets, it is very important to keep them secure at night, and protect your property. You are responsible for helping stop the spread of foxes by keeping them off your property. The lists below have some tips on what you should and shouldn't do to keep foxes off your property.
Things you should do:
- Lock up chickens, pet rabbits, guinea pigs and other small animals in a roofed and floored enclosure overnight
- Clean up food scraps and pet food left outside
- Remove fruit from the ground when it drops from fruit trees
- Cover your compost heap or use a compost bin
- Make sure your property is maintained by keeping grass and weeds below 150mm to prevent foxes hiding in them
Things you shouldn't do:
- Do not encourage foxes by feeding them
- Do not feed wildlife
- Do not poison foxes
- Do not set any traps, as these are banned under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986
As a Council we do not remove or manage foxes. If you have a fox on your property, please contact a local pest control company. You can find out more about on fox control on the Agriculture Victoria website.