QUESTIONS: The Gatton Star asks Somerset Regional Council about its plans for unregistered dog inspections.
QUESTIONS: The Gatton Star asks Somerset Regional Council about its plans for unregistered dog inspections. Stephanie Deissner

Forced dog inspections - your questions answered

FOLLOWING Somerset Regional Council's plan to carry out an inspection program for unregistered dogs, members of the community have been left outraged.

As part of this program, council inspectors will be able to enter properties at reasonable hours without the permission of the owners.

It was announced at last week's ordinary council meeting.

This contentious declaration has raised many questions and concerns from Gatton Star readers, so we reached out to Somerset council to address these enquiries.

What gives the council the right to enter people's properties?

Sections 113 and 114 of the Animal Management (Cats and Dogs) Act of 2008 detail the rights that local governments have to carry out inspection programs.

The Act is state legislation, and is free to view online.

Has this been done by other councils?

Somerset Regional Council Mayor Graeme Lehmann said it was common for councils to carry out inspection programs under the provisions of the Act.

"General feedback from other councils shows the programs have been successful in identifying animals that have not been registered or microchipped, while encouraging responsible pet ownership," he said.

Will an inspector enter a property if no one is there to let them in?

As detailed in the act, council inspectors must first attempt to identify themselves and explain their reason for entry to the landowner when they arrive at a property.

"While the Act gives authorised persons power to enter a property, officers will not enter homes," Cr Lehmann said.

"If there is no one home and officers identify the presence of a dog that is not on council's database, details will be left for the resident to contact council and for them to obtain proper registration. A follow-up inspection will occur."

What happens if a landowner refuses an inspector entry?

"Council will endeavour to work with residents in an attempt to resolve any issues or concerns they may have," Cr Lehmann said.

What would happen to an unregistered dog if it attacked or bit an inspector while they were on someone's property?

"Experienced, authorised officers will be conducting inspections and will use techniques for gathering information while minimising the risk of injury," Cr Lehmann said,

"Any incidents will be assessed on a case by case basis, and appropriate action taken."

To coincide with the inspection program, Council is offering an introductory dog registration fee of $35, on a one-off basis, to encourage people to become responsible owners of registered pets.

In addition, council is also offering a promotion to pay the 2019/20 registration fees for all dogs desexed before Thursday, August 1, before the inspection program is set to commence.

The inspection program will begin on August 5, and will continue until February 4, 2020.

Copies of the program are available from the Esk Administration Centre - 2 Redbank Street, Esk.

Further questions should be directed to council on 5424 4000.