Whitehorse City Council

Animal Fines/Infringements

Animal fines or infringements 
Appealing a fine
Animal registration
Dog at large
Minor dog attack
Appeal information required from you
The fine/infringement review process
How to pay the fine/infringement
Not paying the fine/infringement
Magistrate’s court  

Animal fines or infringements

Council encourages responsible pet ownership. We are concerned both about animal welfare and the protection of our community's environment. When an animal's behaviour becomes a problem, an infringement notice may be issued to the animal's owner. Penalties vary depending on the nature of the offence and are set by the state government.

Issuing animal fines/infringements

Infringements/fines for alleged animal-related matters are generally sent in the mail to the registered animal owner or the person in charge of an animal after an Authorised Officer has fully investigated the incident

Animal fine/infringement costs

Offences regarding domestic animals are detailed in the Domestic Animals Act (Vic) 1994 and the fine amounts associate with those offences are reviewed annually by the state government. Council has no discretion in setting the infringement amount.

Appealing a fine

Following is information about the most common infringements issued to owners of cats and dogs. The recipient of any infringement notice may lodge an appeal requesting the matter to be reviewed.

Animal registration fine

Animal registration payments benefit Whitehorse residents and their dogs and cats in the following ways:

  • Your pet is provided with a Council identification marker for your pet to wear so you can be more quickly reunited with your pet if you become separated;
  • Provision of an after-hours animal service, to respond to residents calls about wandering dogs, lost and found dogs or cats or dog attacks. This includes the removal of any aggressive dogs from the streets, so you, your family and your pet can walk in safety.
  • Help to deal with nuisance problems caused by cats and dogs. These problems include barking dogs, cat nuisance and trespass and un-owned animals.
  • A permit system to manage the numbers of pets owned by residents, in order to ensure that neighbours and the community are not inconvenienced by too many pets in the vicinity.
  • Control of ‘dangerous’, ‘menacing’ and ‘restricted breed’ dogs in your area. This ensures that they do not pose a threat to the community.
  • Monitoring of domestic animal businesses including pet shops, boarding kennels, catteries, pounds, shelters, and pet breeding and training businesses. This ensures they meet basic animal welfare standards required by law.
  • Provision and management of dog on-leash and off-leash walking.
  • Education on how to be a responsible pet owner. This may include information such as the publication of brochures etc. and visits to residents to advise and assist with pet management issues where concerns have been raised with Council.
    Programs to subsidise the de-sexing of pets for pensioners.

The state government also charges a levy from every animal registration fee received. The levy is used to provide funding to the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources’ Responsible Pet Education programs, including education programs for schools and adults, and State Government research into dog and cat welfare and control issues, much of which is focussed on finding solutions to the problems of dealing with and reducing the numbers of unwanted dogs and cats in the community.

The benefits of animal registration for the community are listed in more detail by the Victorian Department of Agriculture.

Under the Domestic Animals Act (Vic) 1994, dog and cat registration renewals are required to be paid to Council by 10 April each year. If it is not paid by that date, your dog or cat is unregistered and an unregistered animal may attract a fine for the owner.

All cats and dogs must be registered with Council once they reach three months of age.

To remind residents that their dog or cat needs to be re-registered, a registration renewal notice is sent by Council in March each year. A follow-up reminder is sent in May of each year to those residents who not paid the registration or informed us that they no longer have their animal or they have moved away from the municipality. In June of each year, Council Officers telephone residents who still have not renewed their animal registration or have advised that they no longer have the animal or have moved away from the municipality. Follow-up home visits by Council Authorised Officers may also be conducted.

The following commonly presented reasons are NOT CONSIDERED VALID for the withdrawal of an animal registration infringement notice:

  • Not receiving a registration renewal notice
  • My animal is sick and is not expected to live much longer
  • It is my first pet and I am unaware of my responsibilities
  • Being unaware of animal registration requirements
  • English is not my first language and I did not understand the animal registration reminder
  • Being new to the area and unfamiliar with the requirements for animals, regardless of the whether the resident is from Victoria, interstate or overseas
  • Being out of the state or overseas when animal registration is due
  • Being on a restricted income or having insufficient funds to pay the fine/infringement (NOTE: Victorian legislation does not allow for student or pensioner discounts for fines). A payment arrangement (extension in time) is available in these cases. Application can be made by using the Application for an Animal Infringement Appeal, Payment Arrangement or Court Appearance form.
  • Believing that it is unconstitutional for a Council to issue an animal fine/infringement
  • Being a first offence or having an excellent record prior to the issuing of the fine/infringement
Dog-at-large fine

Dogs at large are dogs that have been found to be not securely confined to a property or not under the effective control of a person.

Dogs at large are a hazard to pedestrians, cyclists, drivers and themselves, they may become aggressive if they become frightened by unfamiliar surroundings or people and they can defecate in the street and neighbouring gardens.

The following commonly presented reasons are NOT CONSIDERED VALID for the withdrawal of a dog at large infringement notice:

  • My dog is old and normally does not wander
  • It is my first dog and I am unaware of my responsibilities
  • Being unaware of the requirements of caring for an animal
  • English is not my first language and I did not understand my responsibilities
  • Being new to the area and unfamiliar with the requirements for animals, regardless of the whether the resident is from Victoria, interstate or overseas
  • Being on a restricted income or having insufficient funds to pay the fine/infringement (NOTE: Victorian legislation does not allow for student or pensioner discounts for fines). A payment arrangement (extension in time) is available in these cases. Application can be made by using the Application for an docx icon  Application Form for an Animal Infringement Appeal Payment Arrangement or Court Appearance (51.51kB).
  • Believing that it is unconstitutional for a Council to issue an animal fine/infringement
  • Being a first offence or having an excellent record prior to the issuing of the fine/infringement.
Minor dog attack fine

A minor dog attack occurs when a dog that is not considered to be a dangerous dog or a restricted breed dog, attacks or bites a person or an animal and the injuries caused by the bite are not considered to be a serious injury as defined in Section 3(1) of the Domestic Animals Act (Vic) 1994. Such an attack may attract an infringement.

A serious dog attack proceeds directly to the Magistrate’s Court.

The following commonly presented reasons are NOT CONSIDERED VALID for the withdrawal of minor dog attack infringement notice:

  • My dog is old and/or usually docile and normally does not attack
  • It’s my first offence
  • It is my first dog and I am unaware of my responsibilities
  • Being unaware of the requirements of caring for an animal
  • English is not my first language and I did not understand my responsibilities
  • Being new to the area and unfamiliar with the requirements for animals, regardless of the whether the resident is from Victoria, interstate or overseas
  • Being on a restricted income or having insufficient funds to pay the fine/infringement (NOTE: Victorian legislation does not allow for student or pensioner discounts for fines). A payment arrangement (extension in time) is available in these cases. Application can be made by using the docx icon  Application Form for an Animal Infringement Appeal Payment Arrangement or Court Appearance (51.51kB)
  • Believing that it is unconstitutional for a Council to issue an animal fine/infringement
  • Being a first offence or having an excellent record prior to the issuing of the fine/infringement.

In accordance with the Infringements Act (2006) you can request in writing for your fine/infringement to be withdrawn if you believe that it is not valid for any of the following reasons:

  • Contrary to law – the fine/infringement was issued unlawfully, or the offence did not occur
  • Incorrect identity – the fine/infringement was issued to the wrong person. If you wish to nominate another person as responsible please use the Application for an Animal Infringement Appeal, Payment Arrangement or Court Appearance form.
  • You were involved in an unexpected medical emergency
  • You have “special circumstances” as defined under the Infringements Act (2006)

If you believe the fine/infringement was incorrectly issued or you wish to apply for a payment arrangement or you would like to have your fine/infringement heard in court, you must send your appeal letter or an Application for an Animal Infringement Appeal, Payment Arrangement or Court Appearance form. (LINK – NEW FORM TO REPLACE EXISTING) so that it is received by Council prior to the due date of the fine/infringement. You may send your appeal to the following addresses:

Infringement appeals.html Panel
Whitehorse City Council
Locked Bag 2
Nunawading Delivery Centre 3131

Or email customer.service@whitehorse.vic.gov.au

PLEASE NOTE:

  • Additional charges may apply if the appeal is received after the payment due date.
  • Council will only consider one appeal unless there is additional evidence you can provide to support a follow-up appeal.
Appeal information required from you

If you do not provide important supporting information or supporting documentation with your appeal, we will have to contact you and request this information which will inconvenience you and delay the appeal process or the appeal will be rejected. Council cannot process your appeal without the following information:

  • The infringement ticket number (from the infringement notice/fine)*;
  • The animal registration number (from the infringement notice/fine)*;
  • Your full name*;
  • Your postal address*;
  • A contact phone number*;
  • A contact email address (If you have one, providing an email address could assist in timely information sharing)
  • An explanation of why you believe the fine/infringement should be withdrawn*;
  • Whatever relevant supporting documentation you can provide – see table below.

Mandatory information

Please note: In accordance with the Infringements Act (2006), a postal address is required to enable Council to provide you with a response in writing.

Please be advised that if the required information is NOT received by the fine/infringement due date, the infringement will progress and may incur additional costs and further action.

Some of the key information required is detailed below.

For your convenience, all the required information is detailed in the Application for an Animal Infringement Appeal, Payment Arrangement or Court Appearance form.

Documentation from you to support an appeal

The following table details the supporting documentation that could assist the Infringement appeals.html Panel to make a timely decision on your appeal or request for a payment arrangement. All supporting documentation must be relevant to the fine/infringement.

Note: Failure to provide supporting documentation may result in a delay in the process or a decision will be made without it. 

Reason Examples Supporting Documentation
Contrary to law Incorrect offence recorded. Evidence (such as photos) or detailed information of why you believe an offence was not committed.
Incorrect identity of the animal owner An incorrect location was listed on the fine (infringement notice).
The animal's registration details are incorrect.
Evidence you were not in charge of the animal at the time. You may nominate the person who was by using the Application for an Animal Infringement Appeal, Payment Arrangement or Court Appearance form.
Evidence the animal was at a different location at the time e.g. in a boarding kennel.
Evidence that the fine/infringement location is incorrect.
Evidence that the animal registration is incorrect.
Medical emergency Unexpectedly attending a hospital emergency department or urgent medical incident and could not effectively foster the animal. A letter from the hospital emergency department or doctor/specialist attending the medical emergency.
Special circumstances Special circumstances as defined under the Infringements Ac (2006) Evidence from your medical practitioner or social worker that your condition render you unable to understand the law or control your conduct at the time of the fine/infringement.
Requesting a payment plan (extension of time) Financial hardship Copies of whatever supporting evidence you can provide to assist your appeal such as your pension or student card.
The fine/infringement review process

The appeals process is bound by the Infringements (Reporting and Prescribed Details and Forms) Regulations (2006), which allows up to 90 days for a response from Council. Once Council receives your appeal with the appropriate contact information and appeal detail, any action on your Infringement is suspended and your infringement will be placed on hold pending a review.

All appeals.html are reviewed by the Whitehorse City Council Infringement Appeals Panel. The panel will take into account all available information including:

  • Information collected by the Authorised Officer
  • Circumstances outlined by you in your request for a fine/infringement review and any relevant supporting documentation sent by you
  • Requirements under the relevant legislation including the Domestic Animals Act (Vic) 1994
  • If insufficient information is provided by you, we may need to contact you for additional details before reviewing the fine/infringement. If the requested information is not received by the date specified in the request for additional information, a decision will be made based on the information at hand.

Once all the information has been received, the fine/infringement will be reviewed and a response will be sent by mail to you once a decision has been reached.

In accordance with the Infringements Act 2006, only one appeal can be considered.

The role of Councillors

It is within your rights to contact the Mayor and/or your local Councillor about a fine/infringement. However, the Mayor and Councillors will refer the matter to the Infringement Appeals Panel in accordance with the regular appeal process.

Successful payment arrangement appeal

If your appeal for a payment arrangement is successful, Council will notify you in writing informing you of the new payment arrangement.

Unsuccessful payment arrangement appeal

If your appeal for a payment arrangement is unsuccessful, Council will notify you in writing indicating the payment due date. Council will only consider one appeal unless there is additional evidence you can provide to support your case.

If you are not satisfied with the decision, you may elect to have the matter heard in Court.

Successful fine appeal

If your fine/infringement appeal is successful, Council will notify you in writing indicating that the fine/infringement has been withdrawn. This may also include an official warning.

Unsuccessful fine appeal

Should your fine/infringement appeal be unsuccessful, you will be advised in writing of a new payment date. Council will only consider one appeal unless there is additional evidence you can provide to support your case.

If you decide to pay the fine/infringement by the due date, you will not need to take any further action. However, if the payment is not received by the due date, the matter may escalate and you may incur additional costs or it may result in appearing before a magistrate.

If you are not satisfied with the decision, you may elect to have the matter heard in Court.

How to pay the fine/infringement


In person:

Payments may be made at any of Council’s three Customer Service Centres: 

Service Centre Address Cashier hours
Nunawading Civic Centre 379-397 Whitehorse Road, Nunawading 3131 Weekdays 8.40am to 5pm
Box Hill Town Hall Customer Service Centre 1022 Whitehorse Road, Box Hill 3028 Weekdays 9am to 5pm
Forest Hill Customer Service Centre Shop 275, Forest Hill Chase Shopping Centre, Canterbury Road, Forest Hill 3131 Weekdays 9am to 5pm
Saturday 9am to 12pm

By mail:
Cheque or money order payments can be mailed to the City of Whitehorse, Locked Bag 2, Nunawading Delivery Centre, 3131. Please ensure that you include your Parking Infringement No. and the registration number of your vehicle with your mailed payment.

By phone:
Credit card phone payment is available by phoning 9697 5730. The service is provided by SecurePay.

Online:
Payment can be made by clicking on the Online Payment section of the website.

IMPORTANT: Please wait three days after the infringement date before you can pay the fine/infringement to allow for fine/infringement information to be loaded into the Council’s payment systems.

Not paying the fine/infringement

If a fine/infringement is not paid by the due date shown on the Infringement Notice, the issue gets escalated in the following way:

  • A reminder notice is issued to the registered owner of the animal, extending the time to pay and an additional fee.
  • Once the extension period ends, a second reminder is issued.
  • If the fine/infringement is not paid by the revised due date, the matter is referred to the Infringements Court, which adds a further fee.
  • The Infringement Court process adds additional costs and if an infringement is not paid, the matter will progress to the Sheriff’s Office where a warrant will be issued.
  • The registered owner or nominated person in charge of the animal at the time of the alleged offence can apply to the Infringements Court to have the matter revoked. If successful, the matter will return to Council for consideration. It will then either be withdrawn or proceed to open court.
  • If you wish to contest the fine/infringement further, you may choose to have the matter heard before a Magistrate.
Magistrate’s court

It is suggested prior to having the matter heard in front of a Magistrate, that you seek independent legal advice before taking this step. Should you decide not to seek legal advice, the information provided below may assist you.

To inform Council you wish to dispute the fine/infringement before a Magistrate you must inform Council in writing. Please complete the docx icon  Application Form for an Animal Infringement Appeal Payment Arrangement or Court Appearance (51.51kB).

You will receive an acknowledgement that the matter will be heard in court and you will receive a summons in writing telling you the date, time and place of the hearing. If you succeed at the hearing, the fine/infringement will be withdrawn. If you are not successful, you will be required to pay the fine/infringement amount and any court and Council costs.

To help you with your day in court, refer to information on the Victorian Law Foundation website.