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Pulling it all together

So you’ve read the handbook and you’re inspired to go out and put ideas into action. But how to do it?

One of the ways councils can effectively pull many of the issues raised in this handbook together is via a Companion Animal Plan that is integrated within the broader strategic planning process of Council. With concerns such as off leash park usage and animal management issues potentially creating “us and them” scenarios within the community, it is better to take the lead and plan rather than react to situations once they’ve already occurred.

Pets impact the community in many ways, so good pet management and planning can benefit the entire community, not just pet owners. As to whether the pet impact is negative or positive is largely traced back to identification of community needs, planning and stakeholder consultation. Progressive councils seek to educate, consult and pool resources to make good decisions that have the community’s needs at heart. Sure it takes time, but it is well worth it.

Many local authorities have already successfully developed and implemented Companion Animal Management Plans (also known as Domestic Animal Management Plans and a range of other titles). Often these plans are part of the overall Strategic Plan for the Council. Whether your Council already has an Animal Management Plan and wishes to revise it, or you’re developing a new Plan, the following ideas might help you to consider various departments and stakeholders to assist and support you.

First Steps

  • Develop the Plan with the assistance of the Councils’ communications department who should be experienced in planning and developing general stakeholder relationships.
  • Get sign off from your department and Council management to undertake stakeholder engagement and implement the resulting strategies and tactics.

Internal Relations

Assess the environment, flag the needs of other departments and establish which strategies best suit your region. Key players might include Environment, Health and Ageing, Animal Management, Compliance, Planning and the Community Development department. Do your best to ensure that all stakeholder interests are delivered equally across the plan.

External Relations

  • Outside your Council there are a multitude of stakeholders willing to assist and support your plans. Key players include welfare organisations, volunteer groups, animal breeders, dog trainers, vets, vet nurses, the pet industry, wildlife carers and assistance animal groups.
  • Create alliances with authorities outside of your region i.e. ROCS (Regions of Councils) to help minimise and solve border problems through the pooling of expertise. Draw on their knowledge, look at other plans, and find out what works and what doesn’t.
  • Use qualified and experienced advisors known within the community to help create programs and educate people within and outside of your organisation. This will establish respect and community compliance. It’s important to remember that Council should not only be looking to enforce and address issues, but create feasible, workable solutions that draw on and maximise the benefits of the community.
  • Continually foster community champions to spread the word and help activate the strategy in the community.


Companion Animal Management Plans do not have to be set in concrete. Instead, introduce the Plan in stages and across a number of years. Strategies can be trialled, adapted and re-trialled to better address the objectives.

While stakeholder consultation cannot promise to eliminate all issues with the community, it will substantially reduce the time spent in re-addressing the same issues. It will also show the council to be fair and reasonable to all community concerns, its citizens and its groups.


go to Example – Gold Coast City Council

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