Issues with Animals

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Issues with Animals

There are a several types of complaints that Council receives about animals. Read below for more information.

Once you have read more about your particular issue feel free to contact Council on 02 6648 4000.

​Coffs Harbour City Council Rangers handle more than 2500 dog complaints each year and the majority are to do with barking dogs.

Dogs bark for a number of reasons, but regardless of the cause, the reality is that a nuisance barking dog can be a real problem in a neighbourhood. However, dogs are allowed to bark and not all barking is deemed a nuisance. Council, in assessing whether a dog’s barking is creating a nuisance, will apply a community test, in that the barking needs to be affecting the local community (i.e. other nearby residents).

The following guidelines are designed to help alleviate the problems associated with barking dogs. 


If you have not already done so you should discuss the problem with the owner of the problem dog.

He or she may not be aware that you have a problem with their barking dog.  (Many dog owners are not offended by the barking of their own dog or may be away when it barks.)  In most cases owners will want to do the right thing and will co-operate.

Council has prepared a barking dog information pack which can assist you in this exercise.

Barking Dog Information Pack

Second - WAIT

If the owner agrees to do something about the barking please wait a few weeks to see if they have been successful in their efforts. 

During this time you should remain in contact with your neighbour and let them know what the dog barks at etc., this will help them identify any specific issues which may be making the dog bark.

If several weeks have passed and you have followed the information contained in Council's information pack, and the barking continues, you can make contact with Council's Rangers. The Rangers will review the matter, and determine if there is sufficient reason to support Council involvement to progress the matter.

Further Information

Upon investigation should Council determine that the barking of a dog is not a community issue you will be advised to contact the NSW Community Justice Centre. This is a free service and aids neighbours in resolving issues such as these.

Why does my dog bark?

Dogs that bark continually can be annoying for both you and your neighbours. If your dog is barking it may be because it:  

  • is bored
  • needs exercise
  • wants attention
  • may suffer from separation anxiety
  • lacks shelter, water, food
  • may need veterinary attention 

It may be as simple as covering your side gate or fence so the dog cannot see out and at distractions off the property.

What can I do about my barking dog?

We're not suggesting you should stay home and entertain the dog all day every day, however, there are a number of simple things you can do to stop your dog barking that can be found in the Why does my dog bark? Information pack.

If you are already doing all of the above and your dog is still barking you may need to seek advice from an animal behaviour specialist. There are a number of mechanical devices which can be used to train your dog, these can be discussed with your local vet.

​Council can issue an Infringement Notice to dog owners where it is found their dog is not kept under effective control while in a public place.

See the areas where dogs are allowed to be off their leashes, while still under the supervision of their owners.

What you need to tell us:

  • Do you know where the dog/s are coming from?

  • Can you contain the dog/s? 
    Council will only impound the dogs up until 4pm each day. If it is after 4pm it is preferred that the customer holds the dog until the next day when the Ranger can collect.

  • What type of dog/s are they?

Once we know as many of these details as possible, Rangers will patrol the area but there is no guarantee that the dogs will be about when the Rangers are patrolling. It is preferable if the customer could find out where the dogs are coming from and notify Council.

​Council Rangers do not set traps for wild dogs or cats.

Where did you see the wild dogs?

  • If it was in a rural area you must contact Local Land Services

  • If it was in a National Park you must contact National Parks and Wildlife

  • If it was in a residential area Council's Ranger will patrol for it.

  • If you have captured the wild dog contact Council and a Ranger will come and impound it.

​Council can organise dead animals to be disposed of from roadsides and public places:

  • If the animal is on a beach - you can Council or National Parks and Wildlife
  • If the animal is on a riverbank or floating in the river - it could be an environmental issue so please contact Council's Environmental Branch for further information

  • If the animal is on private property - Council will not dispose of dead animals on private properties

  • If the animal is on the Pacific Highway - contact the RMS

​Stock owners are obliged to keep their fences maintained to keep their stock from straying onto neighbouring properties and roads. Council impounds stock that have strayed onto Public Land or have been delivered to Council by occupiers of private land.

What you need to tell us:

  • Where are the stock and what colour and type are they?

  • Are they on public roads or public lands, or private lands?

  • If they are on public roads or public lands Council will send Rangers to investigate. If they are on private land the stock must be impounded by the occupiers of the private land.

Ownership of the stock - what to do

    • If the owner is not known - the occupiers of the private land may impound the stock on their property. Upon request, Council may assist with determining and contacting the owner and advising of the trespassing cattle.

    • If the owner is known - the occupiers of private land should contact owner within 24 hours to let them know that they have strayed onto their land and that they should make arrangements to collect them.

    • Straying stock issues that arise from stock wandering from private property to private property, are private concerns between neighbours. Council recommends that effected parties in this situation seek their own legal advice or utilise the services of the NSW Community Justice Centre to resolve ongoing issues.

​If a cat is found attacking native wildlife, causing too much noise or damaging gardens, they are considered to be a nuisance under the Companion Animals Act. 

If you find a cat involved in any of these activities on your property then you have the right to seize the cat and return it to its owner in the first instance (if you know who the owner is) or deliver it to the Council Pound.  The Pound is located at the RSPCA Shelter, Dowsett Drive Coffs Harbour and can be contacted on 02 6651 3311.

You cannot seize or impound a cat because it is wandering on your property.

If you seize a cat then you are bound by law to provide proper care for the animal whilst it is in your care. 

Please note that Council does not provide a pick up service or capture service for cats.

​Coffs Harbour City Council does not have any local policy regarding the number of dogs or cats that may be kept on a premises.

However, residents should be aware that other regulations regarding the health and cleanliness of premises do apply.

This means that odours that may develop from pet faeces and noise from barking dogs can become an issue with too many pets kept in confined locations. There are laws and regulations that do regulate these issues and owners are urged to consider these aspects of having a large number of pets.

​Residents who wish to keep poultry in residential areas must ensure that the poultry do not cause a nuisance to neighbours. 

You can find out further information on keeping chickens here.

What can I do if my neighbour’s poultry are causing me issues?

These matters are most commonly one to one neighbour disputes and can be addressed by simply speaking with your neighbour to resolve the issue. A lot of the time the poultry owner may be unawares to the impact the poultry is having on neighbours.

If speaking/negotiating with your neighbour fails to resolve the issue then alternative avenues such as private legal action or mediation via a Community Justice Centre are available.  As a general principle Council will not pursue legal action unless it is considered that such action will benefit the wider public interest.  An example would be if the whole neighbourhood was impacted.