A Gunnedah vet says new annual fees for pets are a waste of time.
David Amos said the introduction of annual permits from July 1 for owners of non-desexed cats, restricted dog breeds, and dogs declared to be dangerous cannot be policed and will not stop irresponsible pet ownership.
Under the NSW government's changes to the Companion Animal Act, owners of cats not desexed by four months of age will be required to obtain an $80 annual permit in addition to their one-off lifetime pet registration fee. There are exemptions for cats kept for breeding purposes by members of recognised breeding bodies, and cats which cannot be desexed for medical reasons.
Owners of restricted dog breeds or dogs declared as dangerous that are already registered will have to pay $195 for an annual permit, on top of the usual registration fee.
Restricted dog breeds include the pit bull terrier, American pit bull terrier, Japanese tosa, Argentinian fighting dog, Brazilian fighting dog, and canary mastiff.
Irresponsible behaviour is not being dealt with.David Amos, vet
Gunnedah Shire Council's coordinator of regulatory services, Wade Berryman, says the changes were designed to promote responsible pet ownership and improve animal welfare standards, but Mr Amos disagrees.
Mr Amos said there were already "a hell of a lot" of pets not microchipped, and many unregistered, so the new rules would be difficult to enforce.
"It comes down to people being responsible. Irresponsible owners are not going to do this no matter what. That's really the issue," he said.
"Irresponsible behaviour is not being dealt with ... this is a financial incentive for people to do the wrong thing simply because [the government] won't follow through.
"The whole Companion Animal Act is big on suggestions and poor on follow-up."
Desexing kittens before four months could also cause health issues, Mr Amos said.
Mr Berryman said the new regulations would serve as a reminder to cat owners to have them desexed, and permits for restricted and dangerous dogs would "encourage owners to better manage the behaviour of their animal and reassure the community that these animals are monitored".
Annual permit fees will go towards the Companion Animals Fund, which pays for companion animal management by local councils, including pounds and shelters, ranger services, dog recreation areas, and education and awareness programs.
- To apply for annual permits from July 1, visit https://www.petregistry.nsw.gov.au.