Legal Requirements of being a Pet Sitter in Australia

by PetCloud / Pet Sitter Tips / 30 Dec 2016

What are the legal requirements of being a Pet Sitter in Australia?

Are you keen to start a pet sitting business? PetCloud is here to help you find out what you need to know before you begin.

 

1. By law, all Pet Sitters in Australia need Public Liability Insurance.

In Australia, if you own a pet sitting business, you can be liable for damages or injuries to another person or property.  In the eyes of the law, pets are considered property. Public Liability cover is a legal requirement for people looking after pets for money. As in accordance with Australian law, if a domestic animal causes an accident or injures a third party, the person who is in control of the animal at that moment is responsible.  PetCloud pays for every booking to be covered by Public Liability insurance so that you don't have to worry! How good is that?!   Without insurance, you could also be up for big Vet bills for example, up to $16,000 if a Pet swallows an object while in your care and requires surgery to remove it.  Do you have a spare $16,000 sitting in your account? If not, working with PetCloud is a great option as you will have all bookings covered by our public liability insurance.      

2. By law, Pet Sitters may be required to have an ABN.

As a Pet Sitter in Australia, you need to be aware of any tax obligations you might have, and you may be required to have an ABN. As a rough guide, if your payments for pet sitting have hit the $18K level in one complete financial year from 1 July - 30 June (the threshold is $18,200), then this is also evidence for the to suggest that there is enough repetition in your activities for it to be considered a "business" rather than a "hobby" and therefore, if you don't supply PetCloud with an ABN, before your next pet sitting job, the Australian Tax Office have asked us to withhold 47% from your next payment. You can prevent this by applying for an ABN or providing us with a Statement by a Supplier to say that what you do is a hobby.  

To be sure, we recommend you book an appointment with a Taxation Accountant.  Refer to the Australian Taxation Office website for more info or you may wish to call them on the Personal Tax Info Line 132 861 or the Small Business Info Line: 132 866.   Read about expenses you can claim as a Pet Sitter in Australia.

3. By law, you may need a Permit

In most councils throughout Australia, you must apply for a domestic dog permit if you keep more than 2 dogs.    You may also require development approval depending on the location and activity (e.g. a home based business or animal keeping). If the keeping of the animals is authorised under a development approval issued by Council, you will not require a permit under the Animals Local Law 2017.

4. By law Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers have a legal duty of care

If you are in charge of an animal, you have a legal duty of care to that animal, by the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 to provide for its needs in a reasonable way - no matter why you are in charge of it, or how long it will be in your care. 

Duty of care is based on the internationally recognised '5 freedoms' of Animal Welfare:

  1. Providing food and water
  2. Providing accommodation or living conditions
  3. Understanding your animal's normal behavioural patterns
  4. Treating disease and injury
  5. Handling the animal appropriately.

Appropriate care takes into consideration the animal's species, environment and circumstances, such as its age and where it lives, and what steps a reasonable person would take in the circumstances.

Ensure the Pet Owner has followed their legal obligations as a responsible Pet Owner:

  • Dropped the pet off with enough food for the time they are away (plus 2 days extra just in case).
  • The pet has a collar with Council registration tags with the Council in your area.
  • Is also wearing engraved metal ID tags with a contact Name and Number.
  • Has been microchipped and that its details are up to date so it can be identified and returned if lost
  • The pet is vaccinated and up to date.
  • Is not declared a dangerous dog (menacing or restricted breed)
  • Has not dropped over more pets than you are legally allowed to keep in your local council area.
  • Has supplied you with adequate rolls of poo bags and holder attached to the dog lead – you can get fined for not carrying doggy poo bags and also fined for not using them
  • Is desexed to avoid unwanted litters (this is not a law but is good to check)
  • If not desexed, has confirmed it is not on heat – because you are legally not allowed to take dogs on heat out in public, this incudes dog parks.
  • Has supplied you with a dog lead - Once your dog is outside of your home, by law it must be on a lead. Your pet's safety is important, therefore, ALL pets entering and exiting pet stays must be on a leash or in a carrier until they are in the control of a Pet Sitter.
  • Has disclosed whether their dog is prone to escaping by digging or fence jumping - Destructive and fence jumping dogs are NOT suited to pet sitting and will need to be in a contained environment such as a kennel. An unleashed, uncontrolled dog in public is against the law.
  • If they will be travelling in a car with a Pet Sitter, the Pet Owner needs to provide a harness + a seatbelt attachment – By law they are not allowed to travel on your lap and should be restrained.

 

5. There are fines for breaking local laws

It depends where you live and what the local law is that you broke.  There are local council officers who walk around dog parks all the time.

As an example, the City of Melbourne website outlines some example fines on their website

Infringement Fine
Failure to apply to register a dog or cat $311
Failure to renew a cat or dog registration $311
Registered dog or cat not wearing council identification marker outside premises $78
Dog at large or not securely confined to owner's premises during daytime $233
Dog at large or not securely confined to owner's premises during night time $311
Dog or cat being a nuisance $78
Failure to pick up dog faeces $250
Failing to include declaration of restricted breed at registration $311
Attack or bite on a person or animal by a dog other than a dangerous dog causing injury that is not in the nature of serious injury $389
Dog or cat on private property after notice of objection served $78
Contravening council order relating to presence of dogs and cats in public places (not having your dog on a leash or under effective control off leash) $155
Dog rushing or chasing any person $155

 

For a complete list of infringements call them on 03 9658 9658.

 

So look up the relevant link below that applies to you.

Townsville, Qld

Sunshine Coast

Brisbane, Qld

Ipswich, Qld

Gold Coast, Qld

Yarra, Victoria

Melbourne, Vic

Albury, NSW

Tasmania

Geraldton, WA

Perth, WA

Darwin, NT  Dog fines   Cat fines

 

What is the Australian legislation governing animal welfare?

There are no national laws applying to animal welfare, but all states and territories regulate animal welfare in their jurisdiction. You will find the legislation for each state and territory on the RSPCA Knowledge Base. All Pet Owners & Pet Sitters need to familiarise themselves with legislation relating to dog and cat registration, along with requirements for microchipping of dogs, cats and horses.

 

6. There are Codes of Practice outlining the standards of hygiene you must maintain for the health of the pet and safety of your property

Yes. Depending on the state/territory, there are Codes of Practice for Home Based Pet Sitting, Grooming, Pet Transport and Breeding as well as water management codes in ACT and Qld.

 

7. There are Limits on the Number of Pets you can mind per night.

Victoria's Code of Practice for Home based Pet Sitting only allows up to 2 pets to be minded at a Sitter's home at one time. If Pet Owners have more than 2 pets that need to be minded, their options through PetCloud are:

  1. Book a House Sitter to come and stay at their home

  2. Book their pets to stay with separate Pet Sitters so that the total any Pet Sitter has at one time is 2 visiting pets

For other States, it depends on your local council as they all differ from various States and Towns. To look up what your local says about pets, navigate to the Australian Government website and click on the State you live in and then click on 'Local government directory' and type in the name of your suburb. The Council responsible for your Suburb should appear, and your can investigate their website as to what they say about looking after the number of Pets.

 

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