Following a decision made at the 20 December 2022 Council Meeting, Wellington Shire Council will introduce a 24-hour cat curfew to manage and care for the municipality’s cat population, and to better protect biodiversity, including plants and wildlife.
The new 24-hour cat curfew comes after extensive community consultation and will promote responsible pet ownership by limiting the number of wandering and nuisance cats, ensuring all pets and animals can live harmoniously within Wellington.
Data shows that in the last 12 months, 393 cats and kittens have been delivered to Animal Aid in Sale, and 280 reports of nuisance or wandering cats were received and actioned by Council staff.
In the 2021-2025 Domestic Animal Management Plan (DAM Plan), Council conducted a thorough review of cat containment rules, with a view to consider the introduction of a 24-hour cat curfew. Feedback showed that the introduction of a cat curfew was supported by the majority of respondents.
In late 2022, further consultation revealed that almost 70% of respondents wanted a 24-hour cat curfew instead of no restrictions to stop cats wandering away from their properties.
Having considered the feedback and suggestions received from the community, Council concluded that a 24-hour cat curfew would be adopted, requiring cats to be confined to their owners’ properties or yards at all times.
Wellington Shire Councillor, Cr Ripper spoke to the order at the 20 December Council Meeting. Cr Ripper said 1,628 submissions were received and 68% were in support of the cat curfew.
“It is proposed that a six-month amnesty will be put in place while an advisory and educational campaign is promoted – aimed specifically at cat owners”.
“The amnesty essentially pushes back the enforcement and allows Council to adequately communicate the new requirements” Cr Ripper said.
Wellington Shire Council Mayor Ian Bye said that Council is committed to the protection of animals, the amenity and biodiversity that exists throughout the Shire.
“As part of this innovative approach to cat management, we want all cat owners to be well prepared, educated, and comfortable with the new requirements.
“Keeping your cat inside or in an enclosure will support their health and help them live longer. If their basic needs are met, cats can enjoy longer and healthier lives when safely contained to your property” he said.
“We understand that owners and their cats may not be fully prepared for 24-hour containment. To ease the pressure on pet owners, we are allowing for a fair and gradual transition over the next six months to support cat owners to fully understand the new requirements, and what is expected under a 24-hour cat curfew”.
Between 19 January and 1 July 2023, Council will run a significant educational campaign to ensure residents are prepared for the 24-hour cat curfew to be enforced. The cat curfew officially began on 19 January 2023; however Council officers will not enforce the 24-hour cat curfew until 1 July 2023.
From 1 July 2023 enforcement activities will commence, in line with the process already applied for wandering dogs. This process ensures pet ownership equality and will be as follows:
- First occurrence: wherever possible the cat will be returned to its registered owner
- Second occurrence: cat returned, and warning issued
- Third occurrence: cat impounded and/or infringement issued
From 1 July 2023, penalties for a breach of this curfew range from $185.00 for the first offence, and $555.00 for second or subsequent offences.
Immediate changes to cat ownership include:
- Wellington Shire residents must keep their cats confined within their property boundary. Cats are free to go outside in your front or backyard if it is enclosed or be kept in a suitable cat enclosure.