A day in the life of an animal management officer

Two people standing beside a dog on a lead in a park.

Pet owners, keep your cat or dog safe by renewing their registration before 10 April. Registration and microchipping is required by law and helps us reunite you with your furry friend if they get lost.

We spent the day with Tom Robertson, Animal Management Coordinator, to find out more about how he helps look after pets and people in our city.

Tom starts his morning with a park patrol on an electric bike, at the crucial time when people are walking their dogs during school drop-off.

‘Responsible pet ownership isn’t just about your pet’s welfare, it’s also about being considerate to other people,’ Tom said.

‘Everyone has the right to enjoy our parks and wider community without undue disruption, or especially aggression, from a pet.

‘We don’t like to hand out fines, but we take responsible dog ownership and leashing requirements seriously for a reason.’

After the park patrol, Tom’s team collects lost animals and, if they cannot be identified, takes them to the Lost Dogs’ Home.

‘If your pet isn’t registered and microchipped, it makes it harder for us to reunite them with you if they become lost or escape,’ Tom said.

‘You should also keep your dog on a leash where required, and at all times if they will not return to you when called. Bear in mind that dogs may react unexpectedly in different situations.’

Did you know

  • There are currently 2096 cats and 3606 dogs registered in the City of Melbourne.
  • To help keep pets safe, all pet owners are required by law to microchip and register their cat or dog with their local council.
  • When you register your pet, we’ll send you a tag that will help your cat or dog be returned to you if it gets lost.
  • Registration fees allow us to fund services such as responding to lost and wandering animals, dog attacks and responsible pet ownership education programs.
A person with a dog

Tom Robertson at work

In the afternoon, the animal management team usually follows up on noise complaints or other ongoing investigations. They might even do targeted door knocking in apartment buildings to identify unregistered pets.

‘We encourage people to get their pets from a shelter and provide education around pet selection,’ Tom said.

‘Many medium to large sized dogs can require two hour-long walks every day, and they are just not suitable for apartments.’

‘Dogs and cats also find loud noises from thunderstorms and fireworks really distressing, and lots of pets escape in panic during these times.

‘The Lost Dogs’ Home often ends up inundated after events like this, which is a shame because it’s preventable – you should always bring your pet inside and create a calm environment for them.’

The animal management team works closely with the RSPCA and police, where necessary, and provides education at community events, including teaching children how to approach dogs. They’ve also hosted free dog behaviour training sessions in partnership with the Lost Dogs’ Home.

Throughout the year, the team also assesses the compliance of pet shops, animal shelters and pet boarding establishments. When dog attacks occur, they prosecute dog owners which assists in providing a closure for victims and in them receiving compensation in court.

‘Unfortunately dog attacks are more common than you might think and some victims are permanently scarred,’ Tom said.

‘If you are involved in a dog attack, make sure you exchange contact details and get in touch with us.’

The City of Melbourne’s Domestic Animal Management Plan guides our animal management service. Informed by the community, the plan includes actions to minimise the risk of dog attacks and euthanasia rates.

Top tips for pet owners

  • Register and microchip your pets
  • Train your cat to feed on your property, and consider an enclosure or netting
  • Keep your dog on leash at all times and when in off leash areas ensure it’s under effective control
  • Train your dog through a certified trainer
  • Pick up after your pet
  • Make sure your pet is happy, fed and has appropriate enrichment
  • Choose the right pet for your lifestyle and home
  • Respect the community around you

For more information, visit Pets.

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