Pets in parks policy

Pets are generally not allowed in parks as they can harm native animals and disrupt park visitors' enjoyment.

Guide Dog walking with client in a park by a riverYou can bring your assistance animal into a park, provided you have reasonable proof that it is an assistance animal.

There are also provisions in this policy for driving with pets through some parks and access for working dogs, but there are rules around this, so check the policy carefully, and if in doubt contact your local National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Office.

Policy

Can I bring my pet into a park?

  1. You cannot bring a pet into a national park or other land reserved or acquired under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act), except as set out below.
  2. You can walk a dog on a leash in regional parks within designated dog walking areas. The plan of management for the regional park will determine if, and where, pets are permitted, and if any conditions apply. Regional parks that have dog walking areas are listed on the NSW National Parks website or you can contact the local NPWS Office for information.
  3. NPWS may give consent (with or without conditions) for a pet to be brought into acquired land (i.e. areas managed by NPWS but not reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act), after considering feasible and reasonable alternatives and potential environmental, public safety and park management impacts.
  4. Native title holders may be accompanied by an animal if this right is confirmed as part of a native title determination and such use is consistent with the terms of the Indigenous Land Use Agreement.
  1. Yes. You can bring an assistance animal into a park, including camping areas and other on-park accommodation, provided:
    1. the area is open to the public
    2. you can provide reasonable proof that the animal is an assistance animal.
  2. NPWS encourages people with assistance animals to contact the local NPWS Office before entering the park or booking accommodation. This will help NPWS to make any arrangements needed to ensure the visit to the park is safe and enjoyable.
  3. NPWS will accept either visible or written evidence to establish that an animal is an assistance animal. It is not necessary to provide both types of evidence. A range of evidence options is available to recognise the variation in accreditation schemes across states and territories and the right of a person with a disability to train their own assistance animal.
  4. One of the following forms of visible evidence is sufficient:
    • a coat, cape, vest, badge, harness, medallion, permit or other similar visible item worn by the animal that is provided by a recognised training provider (see Definitions) and that clearly identifies the animal as an assistance animal.
  5. One of the following documents is sufficient:
    • registration papers showing that the dog (or other animal) is registered as an assistance animal by a local council under the Companion Animals Act 1998
    • an assistance animal transport pass or permit issued by a state or territory government
    • state or territory certification or accreditation of assistance animals
    • an assistance animal accreditation issued by a recognised training provider.
    Supporting medical or other specialist advice may be provided but is not essential.
  6. If an assistance animal has been trained by the owner, or by an organisation that is not accredited, NPWS recommends that the person provides another form of evidence (listed in 8 or 9) or shows evidence that the animal has been trained to alleviate the effect of the disability, and to meet standards of hygiene and behaviour for an animal in a public place.
  7. The person with the assistance animal (or another person accompanying them) is responsible for keeping 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.
  8. Where locally available, NPWS may offer a temporary coat/badge, or other form of visual identification for the assistance animal to wear while visiting a park. This may be useful in managing interactions with other visitors, however using these items is entirely at the discretion of the owner of the assistance animal. NPWS may also display a sign to inform other visitors that an assistance animal is present in the park, campground or precinct.
  1. If you are travelling through a park on a public road, you may have your pet or pets in your car, provided you:
    • do not stop for the purpose of visiting the park or using park facilities (unless for safety reasons or to use publicly accessible toilets)
    • keep your pets inside the vehicle while crossing the park
    • comply with any conditions in the park's plan of management.
  2. If you need to go through a park to access private property within, or adjacent to, the park, NPWS may authorise you to take your pets with you, if there is no other practical access route to the property. However, you must check with your local NPWS Office to find out which parks this applies to, and whether a consent is required. You will be required to:
    • keep your pets inside the vehicle while crossing the park
    • act in accordance with any conditions stated in a consent or plan of management for the park.
  1. Working dogs (i.e. dogs used for managing or protecting stock) can travel through a park if they are being used to move stock along an authorised stock route. A park's plan of management will identify the location of travelling stock routes through a park and may include provisions about the use of working dogs. You must contact the relevant NPWS Office before bringing working dogs into a park.
  1. Domestic animals, particularly dogs, are sometimes used by NPWS for park management purposes such as weed detection, threatened species protection, law enforcement, search and rescue, asset protection, and stock and feral animal control. NPWS may authorise the use of dogs or other animals for these, and other, park management purposes.
  1. Unaccompanied pets found in parks will be removed and taken to the nearest local council animal pound.
  2. Nothing in this policy prevents the NPWS from destroying a wild dog in accordance with the Biosecurity Act 2015.

Policy adopted October 2001

Policy last updated June 2019

Scope and application

This policy applies to all lands acquired or reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 except for lands reserved under Part 4A of the NPW Act (unless the Board of Management for those lands has adopted the policy). However, NPWS staff can use the policy as guidance in their dealings with Boards of Management.

Objectives

This policy aims to communicate:

  • that pets are not generally permitted in parks
  • that assistance animals are permitted in parks, subject to appropriate evidence being provided
  • the rules for travelling across parks with pets, working dogs, and use of dogs by NPWS.

Definitions

Acquired land means land acquired by the Minister under Part 11 of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, but that has not been reserved as a national park or other type of reserve.

Assistance animals are trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of that disability. They provide an important service that can enable people to more fully participate in personal and public life activities with more confidence and independence.

Consistent with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth), the NSW Office of Local Government defines an assistance animal as a dog or other animal that is either:

  • accredited under a law of a State or Territory that provides for the accreditation of animals trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of that disability
  • accredited by an animal training organisation prescribed by the Commonwealth
  • trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of that disability, and, to meet standards of hygiene and behaviour appropriate for an animal in a public place.

Therapy Animals are not assistance animals, they provide therapeutic interactions in facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities etc. Therapy animals do not have public access rights as assistance animals.

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

Park means an area of land reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (including a national park, nature reserve, historic site, Aboriginal area, state conservation area, karst conservation reserve, regional park) or any land acquired by the Minister under Part 11 of the Act.

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 a plan of management prepared under Part 5 of the NPW Act.

Recognised training provider means an assistance training organisation recognised by the NSW Office of Local Government. To achieve this recognition, the organisation must show their training program has met the standards established by Assistance Dogs International Inc (ADI) and must be listed on the ADI website as Australian-affiliated programs.

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

Working dog means a dog used primarily for droving, tending, working or protecting stock.

Accountabilities

This section outlines NPWS staff with significant responsibilities for ensuring implementation of the policy.

Paragraph Position accountable
3. Consent for a pet to be brought into acquired land Area Manager or Team Leader Rangers
7. Receiving evidence for an assistance animal Ranger, Field Officer, Visitor Services Assistant, Campground Manager or other staff relevant to the situation
14. Approval, where necessary, for transport of pets to private property within, or adjacent to, the park Area Manager or Team Leader Rangers
16. Use of domestic animals for park management Area Manager

The accountable officer may allocate this role to an officer authorised under the relevant delegation instrument.