Reuniting lost pets reforms

The process for reuniting lost pets with their owners has been reformed through changes made to the Domestic Animals Act 1994 (DA Act) via the Domestic Animals Amendment (Reuniting Pets and Other Matters) Act 2022 (RP Act).

Participating vets and registered animal shelters are now able to directly reunite lost cats and dogs (pets) without needing a council agreement under section 84Y of the DA Act. The reforms do not replace existing section 84Y agreements and do not apply to vets holding existing 84Y agreements with relevant councils. Vets can also continue to enter into written agreements with councils if they wish. 

Providing reunification services is voluntary for vets. If vets are unable, or do not wish to accept a lost pet, members of the public can be referred to other participating vets, shelters, or their local council.

Process for providing reunification services

If vets choose to reunite lost pets under these reforms, i.e. without an 84Y agreement:
  • they must report quarterly to council on the cats and dogs reunited in a given reporting period.
    Reports must include:
    • phone number of the person handing in the lost pet (if known)
    • date and time the animal was handed in
    • suburb or municipality where the pet was found (if known)
    • species, i.e., cat or dog
    • pet’s microchip number or council registration tag number and council name (if microchip can’t be located)
    • owner’s name, residential address and telephone number
    • agent’s name and phone number, if the owner has delegated an agent to collect the pet
    • date and time the pet was collected.
    NOTE: Instead of reporting quarterly, vets may use Central Animal Records' online record keeping and reporting feature. The implementation guidance kit below contains more information on this and optional record keeping templates.
  • they may request a nominal fee for reunification services, however cannot compel payment or make reunification contingent on payment of this fee. The government encourages members of the public to consider paying a nominal reunification fee to support vets continuing to provide this valuable service.

Other improvements

To support the RP Act, the amended Domestic Animals Regulations 2015 contain some administrative improvements. Community Foster Care Networks or cat or dog owners will be able to get their own source number before presenting an animal for microchip implantation. This will help people to get an animal microchipped if they have found or been given a pet where the previous breeder or owner cannot be identified. 

More information