Pets in parks policy

You can bring a trained assistance animal into a park but access for other pets is restricted.

Guide Dog walking with client in a park by a riverPets can harm native animals and disrupt people's enjoyment of parks and reserves. We want to maintain the natural environment and visitor enjoyment of parks while also promoting equitable access for people with disabilities.

Can I bring my animal into a park?

Pets and other domestic animals are generally not allowed in parks, but there are a few exceptions.

If you have a disability and need an assistance animal you can bring your animal into a park, as long as it is certified as a trained assistance animal.

If you need to drive through a park to get access to private property, because there is no other practical access, you can take your pets across the park. You must not stop in the park and must keep your pets inside the vehicle while crossing the park. Check with your local National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) office to find out which parks this applies to.

Working dogs can travel through a park if they are being used to move stock along an authorised stock route.

Policy

1. A person shall not bring a pet into a national park, nature reserve, karst conservation reserve or state conservation area, except in accordance with the exemptions outlined in this policy.

2. The park authority may authorise a person to bring a pet into an historic site, regional park, Aboriginal area or acquired land, subject to such conditions as the park authority may prescribe.

3. The park authority may give consent for a pet, other than an assistance animal, to be brought into the park under sections 2, 12 or 13 by:

  • a plan of management for an historic site, Aboriginal area or regional park
  • signs, notices and verbal directions by the park authority, where this is not inconsistent with a plan of management
  • a licence issued by the park authority
  • a permit issued by the park authority.

4. All applications for licences or permits must be made in writing to the park authority.

5. Consent shall not be transferable either between owners or between animals.

6. Plans of management will identify, where relevant:

  • travelling stock routes in the park on which dogs may be used for droving stock
  • roads and waters that may be used for the transit of pets through the park.

7. Plans of management for historic sites, regional parks and Aboriginal areas will determine if and where pets will be permitted and, if so, what conditions will apply.

8. A person with a disability may be accompanied by a certified assistance animal to assist the person in any park other than an area generally closed to the public.

9. The person (or another person on behalf of the person with the disability) shall keep the assistance animal under effective control at all times and remove any faeces deposited by the animal. Owners are liable for any property damage caused by an assistance animal.

10. In seeking to establish the bona fides of an assistance animal, the privacy of the person with a disability will be respected. The park authority’s concern is with the behaviour and control of the animal in a public place, not with the nature of the owner’s disability.

11. The park authority shall accept the following as evidence of the bona fides of an assistance animal.

Visual evidence

  • an assistance badge or permit (visible on the assistance animal's collar, lead, harness or vest)
  • a guide dog or hearing-assistance dog in harness
  • a coat or vest identifying an animal as an assistance animal.
  • registration of a dog as an assistance animal by a local council under the Companion Animal Act 1998 (or other authorised registration agent such as the Animal Welfare League)

Written evidence

  • an assistance-animal accreditation (e.g. permit, identity card, or pass) issued by a state or territory assistance-training provider

or

  • a transport pass or permit issued by a state or territory government

or

  • written certification that meets the requirements of the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992, including:
    • evidence from a recognised specialist that the animal is required to assist the person to alleviate the effect of the disability
    • evidence to show that the animal has been trained by an accredited training organisation to alleviate a person’s disability, and to an acceptable standard for public places.
Note

The NSW Office of Local Government recognises the following organisations as assistance-training organisations:

  • NSW Guide Dogs Association
  • Assistance Dogs for Independence
  • Assistance Dogs Australia
  • Lions Hearing Dogs Inc.

Other training organisations that can show that their training program has met the standards established by Assistance Animals International Inc. or equivalent are also recognised.

12. The park authority may authorise the use of dogs for purposes required for the management of a park or for law enforcement activities. Such purposes include, but are not restricted to:

  • search and rescue
  • stock and feral animal control
  • protecting park assets.

Stock route and transit access exemption

13. The park authority may authorise the passage of pets through a park where:

  • there is no other practical route to private property within or adjacent to a park and the route is a road or waters open to the public or subject to an access agreement

or

  • the animal is a working dog helping to drove stock along an authorised travelling stock route.

14. A person does not require consent to take an animal onto any public or other road traversing a park provided that:

  • the animal is kept within a vehicle that is transiting the park along a specified route and the vehicle does not stop (for any reason other than traffic conditions)

and

  • the action is in accordance with and subject to any conditions stated in a plan of management for a park.

15. The park authority will identify those roads and waters, if any, transiting a park on which pets may be carried in a vehicle or vessel. Roads and waters will not be identified where:

  • their primary purpose is to provide access to the park and its facilities
  • they are not the shortest feasible route through or around the park
  • alternative routes exist that do not transit the park.

Note for visitor services officers and rangers

If a person at a vehicle entry station seeks to enter the park and has a pet (other than an assistance animal) in the vehicle, ask whether the person plans to transit the park or visit attractions within the park.

  • If they plan to visit attractions within the park, advise them pets are not allowed in national parks, and that they will therefore not be able to enter the park.
  • If they indicate they are simply transiting the park, accept the vehicle entry fee and advise them they need to travel straight through the park to their destination. Also advise them that the pet must remain in the vehicle for the duration of the journey.

If there is reasonable doubt as to the visitor’s real intentions, you could:

  • record the vehicle licence-plate details, a description of the vehicle and occupants, and their stated destination
  • advise the relevant park ranger that a person may be bringing a pet into a park for recreational rather than transit purposes.

Law-enforcement activities related to the unauthorised entry of a pet into a park should only be undertaken by an NPWS officer with relevant authorisation.

Conditions

16. The park authority may not authorise the use or entry of pets under sections 2, 12 or 13 unless an assessment of impacts has been undertaken and it is determined that there will be no adverse impacts on natural or cultural values, park property or visitors (this does not apply to assistance animals).

17. Where the park authority authorises access for a pet under sections 2, 12 or 13 it may set such conditions and levy such charges as it may consider appropriate (this does not apply to assistance animals.).

18. The park authority shall maintain a record of owners, other than owners of assistance animals, who are authorised in writing under this policy to bring a pet in a park. The record shall detail:

  • name and address of the owner
  • name and description of the animal (including breed, colour and sex)
  • reasons for access
  • period of access
  • location (including name of park and locality within the park where applicable)
  • conditions for access.

19. Conditions that may be attached to an approval by the park authority include, but are not limited to:

  • pet owners must obey lawful directions of NPWS staff
  • pets must be under effective control at all times and, except for dogs being worked and assistance animals, be restrained by way of a leash, cage or other authorised constraint
  • pets must not cause a nuisance or disturbance to visitors or other pets
  • pets must not damage or threaten park property or natural or cultural values
  • a limit placed on the number and type of pets
  • the pet owner is responsible for cleaning up faeces and disposing of them outside the park
  • pets are prohibited from certain areas such as revegetation areas, animal breeding sites, research areas, children's playgrounds, and food-preparation areas and buildings
  • a pet must be clearly identified by an appropriate form of identification as specified in the Companion Animals Act 1998 to allow it to be returned to its owner if lost.

Companion Animals Act 1998

20. Consent by the park authority under sections 2, 12 or 13 does not absolve the owner of a companion animal of his/her obligations under the Companion Animals Act 1998 (Companion Animals Act).

21. The park authority shall not authorise access where it would contravene the Companion Animals Act. In particular:

  • dogs (with the exception of assistance animals) will not be permitted within 10 metres of children’s play equipment or any place provided for preparing or consuming food (such as barbecues and picnic tables)
  • specific categories of dogs identified by the Act, such as restricted dogs, must be managed in accordance with the control requirements set out in the Act, which may include (but not be limited to) being muzzled at all times and secured by a leash under the control of a competent person.

Assessment

22. An assessment by the park authority should consider, but is not restricted to, the following:

  • provisions of a plan of management
  • impacts on plants, animals, ecosystems and threatened species
  • potential conflicts with other park visitors
  • impacts on park property
  • impacts on cultural heritage
  • any alternatives that don’t involve access through the park.

Signage

23. The park authority will ensure that park signs identify those parts of an historic site, regional park, Aboriginal area or acquired land that are accessible to people with pets.

Impounding dogs

24. The park authority will impound any dog that the impounding officer believes, on reasonable grounds, to be unattended, in accordance with the Impounding Act 1993 (Impounding Act).

25. Where the park authority is not authorised to impound dogs under the Impounding Act (that is, in acquired lands), it will seek assistance from council officers to impound an unattended dog under the Companion Animals Act.

26. The impounding officer will deliver the dog to the nearest pound as soon as practicable after its impoundment.

27. Nothing in this policy prevents the park authority from destroying a wild dog in accordance with the Local Land Services Act 2013.

Policy adopted 24 May 2017

Scope and application

This policy applies to lands acquired or reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (‘parks’). This policy does not apply to lands reserved under Part 4A of the Act unless the Board of Management for those lands has adopted the policy. All policies, unless otherwise stated, provide guidance for staff in their dealings with Boards of Management.

Relevant legislation or other mandating instruments

  • Anti-Discrimination Act 1997 (Anti-Discrimination Act)
  • Companion Animals Act 1998 (Companion Animals Act)
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Commonwealth) (Disability Discrimination Act)
  • Impounding Act 1993 (Impounding Act)
  • National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act)
  • National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2009 (NPW Regulation).

Definitions

Aboriginal land means lands vested on behalf of Aboriginal owners under Part 4A of the NPW Act.

Acquired land means land acquired by the Minister under Part 11 of the NPW Act.

Act means the NPW Act.

Assistance animal has the same meaning as in the Companion Animals Act and the Disability Discrimination Act (that is, a guide dog, a dog trained to assist a person with a disability in activities where hearing is required, or an animal trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of the disability and that is trained in hygiene and behaviour appropriate for public places).

Companion animal has the same meaning as in the Companion Animals Act (that is, a dog, cat, or any other animal that is prescribed by the regulations as a companion animal).

Disability has the same meaning as in the Disability Discrimination Act.

Impounding officer means a person appointed by the Chief Executive to exercise the powers of an impounding officer under the Impounding Act.

Park means any land acquired or reserved under the NPW Act.

Park authority means the body responsible for the care, control and management of a park, as defined in the NPW Regulation.

Pet means an animal generally kept in a domestic situation for the benefit of the animal and its owner. Pets may be native or non-native animals including (but not limited to) dogs, cats, other small mammals, reptiles and birds, but not horses and other livestock.

Plan of management means, for a park reserved under the NPW Act, a plan of management prepared under Part 5 of the Act.

Therapy pet means an animal that provides companionship to people who, due to disability, ill-health or age, have reduced opportunities for social access. A therapy pet is not an assistance animal.

Wild dog means a dingo, a hybrid or a feral dog.

Accountabilities

Accountabilities under this policy are in accordance with the delegation of Ministerial and Chief Executive functions under the NPW Act and the NPW Regulation.