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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 31 March 2021) . . Page.. 677 ..

As part of these recommendations, the review flagged the importance of annual dog registration. The ACT government listened to the experts and the community, and in May 2019 released the Canberra dog model, which provides an evidenced-based plan for achieving best-practice dog management. This model includes a list of 10 practical actions for achieving responsible dog management, with action 9 being the introduction of annual dog registration.

Annual registration is a cornerstone of encouraging responsible dog ownership and mitigating any associated public safety risks. This is a view shared by experts in the animal management field, including the RSPCA, who has recognised the important role that registration and microchipping plays in helping to reduce dog attacks. The introduction of annual registration also aligns the ACT with best-practice registration systems across Australia, including the City of Melbourne and Brisbane City Council.

The current lifetime registration system is no longer fit for purpose. It lacks triggers requiring owners to update their information when a dog passes away, when they move outside of the ACT or when dog ownership is transferred to someone else. Our dog registration data is compromised as a result, undercutting Domestic Animal Services’ ability to communicate with dog owners and provide targeted services. The provisions set in the bill today are necessary to remedy the issue.

Annual registration has multiple benefits over the current lifetime registration system. Annual registration provides an effective way to develop and maintain accurate information on Canberra’s dog population. From the government’s perspective, this means that resources and services are able to be targeted where they are needed. For the owner, annual registration is critical, because it ensures that a lost dog found roaming can be returned home as soon as possible, using up-to-date contact information to reunite owners with their pet.

More broadly, this will lead to a more engaged community of dog owners in the ACT and will help promote responsible dog ownership. Together with annual registration, a new digital dog database will provide a platform to educate and communicate with dog owners on their responsibilities and how to keep their dogs safe and happy. Dog attacks are less likely to occur in a community that is more engaged, educated, and aware of responsible dog ownership.

Annual registration also assists our DAS rangers with compliance and enforcement measures, both under the Domestic Animals Act and also under animal welfare law. By improving the ability of rangers to identify irresponsible dog owners, it will be easier to take action, like implementing a control order.

Annual registration also helps with capacity for proactive compliance activities, as following up on matters is easier with current contact details. Without regular prompting, unfortunately, owners rarely tell the government when they change address or phone number, or whether the dog’s ownership has transferred to someone else.

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