Pets and ACT law

cat containment symbol

The Domestic Animals Act 2000 (Domestic Animals Act) and the Nature Conservation Act 2014 (Nature Conservation Act) place controls on the management of pet cats and dogs in the ACT including laws for owners and keepers to abide when caring for their pets. Both of these Acts acknowledge the negative impact which domestic cats and dogs can have on wildlife in our suburbs and nature reserves and include provisions to try to minimise these impacts. Key measures in this regard include the establishment of cat containment areas and managing domestic animals in nature reserves in the ACT.

Cat containment areas

The Domestic Animals Act empowers the relevant Minister, currently the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, to declare an area a cat containment area if they are satisfied that cats are a serious threat to native flora or fauna.

In a cat containment area, a cat’s carer or keeper must keep their cat confined to their premises 24 hours a day e.g. not allow their cat to roam. Cats can be contained in the house with access to the outdoors through a purpose built enclosure. See our page on cat containment to learn more.

It is offence not to contain your cat if you live in a cat containment area, and as at 2014, fines up to $1500 apply. For more information on which areas are declared cat containment, visit the Territory and Municipal Services website.

Domestic animals and nature reserves

Under the Nature Conservation Act, it is an offence to take or allow a dog or cat to enter a nature reserve. This applies whether they are on or off leash or in a vehicle, however it does not apply to assistance animals.

How are dogs and cats controlled?

The Domestic Animals Act provides a number of mechanisms for the identification and registration of domestic animals which minimise their impact on ACT nature reserves and native wildlife.

Broadly, dogs must be registered and dogs overs six months of age and cats over three months of age must be de-sexed unless a permit is issued. Both cats and dogs must be micro-chipped.  Dogs in the ACT must be on leash in public places except in designated off leash areas and enclosed dog parks. Visit the Territory and Municipal Services website for more information about off leash areas, dog parks and prohibited areas.

The aim of these provisions is to reduce the number of unwanted domestic pets, many of which the RSPCA euthanase each year, and to reduce predation of native wildlife in Canberra.

While every effort has been made to ensure the information is accurate, the Conservation Council ACT Region does not accept any responsibility for any loss or disadvantage resulting from reliance or use of this work.