MOUNT Gambier City Council has warned it will start door-knocking residential properties as part of a crackdown on unregistered dogs across the city.
New figures show there are potentially 600 unregistered canines in the Blue Lake city, which has a dog population of nearly 5000.
The clamp down on dog registrations comes amid hefty new fines for unregistered dogs and a looming overhaul in cat and dog management mid next year.
Council operational services inspectorate team leader Derek Ferguson – whose job oversees dog management – warned people should register their dogs with a minimal late fee or face a $170 fine.
He said residents had to register their dogs by the August 31 deadline.
“We will now do a ring around or maybe a door knock at properties that have not registered their dogs,” Mr Ferguson said yesterday.
“The fine for unregistered dogs is now quite hefty – it has gone from $80 to $170.”
He warned if people did not register their dogs swiftly then they would be “slugged” the full expiation.
“We will give people the chance to do the right thing, otherwise they will get fined,” Mr Ferguson said.
He said it was important to register dogs to ensure they could be identified if they were found wandering the streets.
“It is a lot easier than going out to the South East Animal Welfare League,” said Mr Ferguson, who explained council staff picked up between five and 10 wandering dogs each week on average.
He said around 80pc of these dogs were registered and could be returned to their owners.
Mr Ferguson said there were a number of reasons why people did not register their dogs.
“For some people it is a generational thing, they don’t want to pay the money and they think their dog will never get out and they don’t need to do it,” he said.
“But the registration fee is a lot better than the $170 expiation and the registration costs on top of that.”
Mr Ferguson warned people should become accustomed to registering their dogs given new micro-chipping and desexing regulations that would be swept in.
“People should do the right thing and get used to it because of the changes next year,” he said.
“People will be up for some hefty fines if they don’t get their dog micro-chipped or desexed.”
He warned these fines were $170 for a dog that was not micro-chipped or new generation dogs and cats that were not desexed.
“If someone doesn’t microchip, desex or register their dog as of July 1 next year, they could be up for $600 in fines,” Mr Ferguson said.
“It is best to get into a routine now and register your dog rather than getting slugged down the track.”
Mr Ferguson warned mandatory micro-chipping of cats would also be introduced on July 1, 2018.
Grant District Council environmental services director Leith McEvoy said community rangers had already begun door-knocking properties across the district to force dog registration compliance.
This followed nearly 300 outstanding registrations following the August 31 deadline.
He said council rangers had attended properties where dogs had previously registered dogs and urged owners to pay a late fee or face the $170 expiation.
Mr McEvoy said heavy penalties for unregistered dogs came into effect on July 1.
“While we had 298 outstanding registrations, this number dropped to 95 on October 11 and is now less than 10 dogs,” he said.
While council had shown lenience in terms of the new penalty, he said this could not continue to be extended if property owners were discovered with an unregistered dog.
Mr McEvoy warned penalties jumped to $750 if owners did not register a dog subject to an order.
He said there were various dog orders – including for menacing dogs – across the district.
Mr McEvoy said the State Government had introduced heavier penalties to deter dog attacks as well as encourage responsible dog ownership.