Responsible Pet Ownership

Dogs (and cats) are known to chase, frighten and catch wildlife they consider to be threatening their territory, it is also their natural instinct to hunt for food. This can result in death, injury or fatal exhaustion (heart failure) for many species including; cassowaries, wallabies, potoroos and pademelons, tree kangaroos, musky rat kangaroos, possums and large reptiles such as lace monitors, snakes and lizards1. Rural residential dogs in areas adjoining cassowary habitat are thought to be the most significant threat to cassowaries as they are less likely to be fenced or well trained like working dogs and their owners more likely to work away from home leaving them free to roam2. Unrestrained dogs can join roaming packs of neighbourhood or wild dogs that hunt and prey on wildlife. Research also indicates that the scent of dogs may deter some wildlife from utilizing habitats that dogs visit. In south-east Queensland dogs have taken such a toll on koala populations that the Queensland Government developed the Koala State Planning Regulatory Provision as well as a Animal Management Subordinate to provide local governments with specific powers to prescribe particular requirements for keeping a dog in koala areas3.

  1. Abide by council regulations, register and micro-chip your dog
  2. Keep your dog on a leash when walking in cassowary habitat – which might include beaches and urban areas as well as rainforest in some areas.
  3. Know where your pet is at all times. Ensure they are kept in a yard or secured area on your property.
  4. Replace fences as quickly as possible after cyclones
  5. Confine pets at all times, not just at night. While some native animals are nocturnal, many native species are active during the day, including birds, lizards and frogs.
  6. De-sex cats and dogs. This will help curb their roaming and territorial behaviour.
  7. Identify your pets with a collar, tag, microchip or tattoo. This will help track them if they roam or cause nuisance when you are not around.
  8. Train dogs from an early age that chasing animals is not acceptable behaviour.
  9. Enrol your dog in obedience training
  10. If you find you no longer have enough time for your pet, find them a new home or take them to the RSPCA. Never dump an animal in bush land.
  11. Report all stray unregistered, unrestrained, or nuisance dogs to the local council or the RSPCA.
  12. Support cat and dog controls, such as identification, registration and curfew4.
2 Community Discussion Paper ‘Dogs and Cassowaries at Mission Beach’ 2010.
4 Department of the Environment and Heritage & Arts (2004) Protecting our Wildlife: Responsible pet ownership.

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