A Puppy for Christmas? Your Legal Responsibilities

Christmas Puppy

Thinking of bringing a dog or puppy home for Christmas? Here are just some of the things you need to know before you bring your new family member home.

Register your Puppy

Once your puppy is three months old, make sure you contact or visit your local council to get your dog registered. The Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) (‘the Act’) requires all dogs over the age of three months to be registered; otherwise, you may face a penalty and expiation fee.

Pick up the Poop

Ah, the joys of dog ownership! It’s an offence under the Act to not clean up after your pooch and you could be hit with a penalty of $125. So, don’t forget your “poo bags” on your morning and evening walks!


While training is not a requirement under the Act, it’s definitely a good idea! Socialising your pup from a young age and teaching him or her basic commands and recall will help keep your friend happy and safe, and hopefully out of trouble. If your dog has terrible recall, you should perhaps think twice before letting him or her off the lead, as it’s an offence if your dog is found “wandering at large”. It would be worse still if your dog attacks, harasses or chases or endangers the health of somebody else or another animal or bird (with or without injury) you could face a maximum penalty of $2,500. Enrolling in puppy preschool is a great (and very cute) way to keep your little pal on the straight and narrow.


New Changes

While there are a few changes to be phased in, some to be considered include micro-chipping and desexing.


Micro-chipping is currently optional, but once these new amendments are enacted, every dog will need to be micro-chipped commencing from a prescribed date in 2018.  This will mean less time desperately refreshing Facebook on the ‘Lost Dogs of Adelaide’ page (a brilliant resource if you’ve not yet discovered it), as a microchip will ensure a Vet or shelter will be able to contact you as soon as your pup is found.


The Act will eventually require that all new generations of dogs over a certain age will need to be desexed.  This is an important initiative to reduce the oversupply of dogs and better ensure that every pet will have a loving home. Again, though this requirement is not yet in force, it’s a good idea to desex your dog to prevent unexpected puppies thanks to the charms of the stray down the road.


Most importantly, please remember that a puppy could be a 15-year commitment. Apart from the various legal requirements, there are a lot of other factors you should consider before bringing a dog or puppy home.  If you’ve made your decision, I’d suggest the most responsible options are adopting from a shelter such as the R.S.P.C.A., the Animal Welfare League, or other smaller shelters, or buying from a registered breeder with high ethical standards.


Amendments to the Dog and Cat Management Act in July this year introduced some important changes to your responsibilities as a pet owner. Dog and Cat Management Regulations are currently still in the works, with community consultation recently ended on 7 November. Keep an eye on Clelands Lawyers’ Newsletters and Articles for further updates.


Shannon McMenamin