Dave Dwan with nine-year-old Ace, his granddad’s “retired” working dog.
Dave Dwan with nine-year-old Ace, his granddad’s “retired” working dog.

Leeway found for 'retired' hounds

SOUTHERN Downs Regional mayor Ron Bellingham yesterday moved to hose down community concerns over the registration of retired working dogs on rural properties.

After the Daily News highlighted the impracticality of new state laws on dog and cat registration, the mayor yesterday said council officers believed there was some “leeway” as far as retired working dogs were concerned.

The new laws mean that as of last December all dogs and cats on rural properties must be registered with the council, with “certified” working dogs exempt.

Their retired mates, however, were believed to be seen as pets under the law and needing registration.

But Cr Bellingham yesterday said there was “no definition as such” of a retired working dog in the State Government’s changes to the Animal Management 2008 legislation.

“In my mind that leaves a lot of leeway in interpretation of when a dog stops working, if ever,” he said.

“There has been a fair amount of concern in the community and I’d like to reassure people that this is not the primary focus of the legislation or council,” Cr Bellingham said.

“Some would say that once a working dog, always a working dog.”

Cr Bellingham said in his view the legislation’s “primary goal” for dog registration was not focused on retired working dogs, but on protecting pets in populated and rural areas, while continuing the fight to help eliminate nuisance dogs.

“That’s what our officers are charged with, not pestering working animals in old age,” he said.

Primary producers who own bona fide working dogs are required to provide written proof to the council that their dog is used for tending, herding or guarding livestock, in order for such dogs to be exempt from registration fees.

However, the council still wants working dogs listed on its books, in case they stray and end up in the pound, where unclaimed dogs are put down after three days.

Rural residents continue to be critical of the new dog and cat laws, saying it will be impossible for council to enforce the registration of all mutts and moggies on farms and out in the bush.



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