Buying or adopting a cat or dog

Deciding to introduce a new cat or dog into your family is an exciting time.

This information will help you to choose the right cat or dog for your family.

How to buy or adopt a cat or dog in NSW

Look for an identification number

By law, from 1 July 2019, anyone selling or giving away a cat or dog needs to use an identification number in any advertisement.

This number will be either:

  • a microchip number
  • a breeder identification number OR
  • a rehoming organisation number

This number will help you to find out more information about the cat or dog that is advertised.

Check the NSW Pet Registry

Use the identification number to check the NSW Pet Registry to confirm the number is valid.

A microchip number search will provide you with information about what the owner has recorded as the breed, sex and age of the cat or dog, whether it is desexed and whether or not it is already registered. From 1 July 2019, the NSW Pet Registry will also let you know whether an annual permit is needed to keep the animal. For more information about annual permits, contact your local council.

A breeder identification number search will also display any recorded business names so that you can do further research, make informed purchasing decisions and help support good animal welfare outcomes.

A rehoming organisation number search will display the name and address of the relevant rehoming organisation.

Do your research

When considering buying or adopting a cat or dog, you should always do your research first:

  • Make sure you can meet the animal's needs. You need to understand the breed, the animal's characteristics, expected lifespan, and how much time and money is needed to look after the cat or dog
  • Consider introducing a new cat or dog to any existing pets, and get advice if you're unsure whether the animals will be compatible.
  • Make sure your children know how to safely interact with your cat or dog
  • Contact the breeder or seller if you have any questions about the origin of a cat or dog
  • Research the breeder or seller and, if possible, visit the facility where the animal has been bred or is being housed in order to assess the animal’s living conditions and welfare
  • Check if the cat or dog is up to date with vaccinations, flea and worm treatments
  • Check if the animal is microchipped and registered and whether annual permits are needed.

Be prepared

Before you buy a cat or dog and bring it home make sure you:

  • Buy appropriate food, bedding and toys
  • Check the security of your backyard or area the cat or dog will have access to
  • Consider the availability of training or puppy preschool classes
  • Save the contact details of a local veterinary clinic in your phone.

Transfer ownership

If you decide to buy a cat or dog, make sure it’s ownership is transferred to you and that you claim ownership in the NSW Pet Registry. Further information on how to claim ownership is available at Office of Local Government.

Questions and answers

You can access the NSW Pet Registry and search for a microchip number, breeder identification number, or rehoming organisation number.

If you see an advertisement that does not include an identification number, or you suspect an advertisement includes a false number, you should lodge a complaint.

If the advertisement relates to a greyhound being sold or rehomed by a greyhound racing industry participant, you should contact the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission.

To find out more about advertising a dog or cat for rehoming or for sale, visit a more detailed question and answer page.

If a greyhound has been retired and is sold as a pet to a person that is not a registered greyhound participant, it must then be registered on the NSW Pet Registry like other dogs. Buyers will then be able to use the buyer search function for the identification number of this animal.

The greyhound may be owned by a registered greyhound racing industry participant.

As greyhounds owned by greyhound racing industry participants are not recorded on the NSW Pet Registry, the buyer search function will not operate on the NSW Pet Registry. If you wish to check whether a vendor is a greyhound racing industry participant, you can call the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission to request this information on 1800 951 755.