Selling or giving away a cat or dog

You play a critical role in providing for the welfare of cats and dogs that you sell or rehome. This information will help you to meet your responsibilities.

The rules have changed

From 1 July 2019, people advertising kittens, cats, puppies or dogs for sale or to give away in NSW will need to include an identification number in advertisements. The identification number can be either:

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

The rules will apply to all advertisements, including those in newspapers, local posters, community notice boards and all forms of online advertising, including public advertisements on websites such as the Trading Post, Gumtree and social media sites.

The changes have been implemented in response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Companion Animal Breeding Practices.

The changes help people looking to buy a cat or dog search the NSW Pet Registry to see the animal’s:

  • breed
  • sex
  • age
  • whether it is desexed
  • whether or not it is already registered
  • whether any annual permit is in place (from 1 July 2019).

A breeder identification number search will also display any business name listed in the registry.

This enables buyers to do further research and make informed purchasing decisions.  It also helps to promote responsible cat and dog breeding and selling and, over time, enable enforcement agencies to use this information to identify ‘problem’ breeders to enforce animal welfare laws.

Questions and answers

From 1 July 2019, people advertising kittens, cats, puppies or dogs for sale or to give away in NSW will need to include an identification number in advertisements. The identification number can be either:

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

The advertising requirement will apply to all advertisements, including those in newspapers, local posters, community notice boards and all forms of online advertising, including public advertisements on websites such as the Trading Post, Gumtree and social media sites.

The changes will help people looking to buy a cat or dog to know what the current 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. This will enable them to do further research and make informed purchasing decisions. This helps to promote responsible cat and dog breeding and selling. Animal welfare enforcement agencies will also be able to use this information to identify ‘problem’ breeders and to enforce animal welfare laws.

Microchip number:

A microchip number is a 15 digit unique identification number. In NSW, all cats and dogs, other than exempt cats and dogs, must be microchipped by 12 weeks of age or before being sold or given away, whichever happens first.

If you are selling a cat or dog, it must be microchipped. If you want to use a microchip number in an advertisement, you can take your cat or dog to a veterinarian or other authorised identifier and have it microchipped. If your cat or dog is already microchipped, a veterinarian or other authorised identifier can use a scanner to retrieve the number for you.

Breeder identification number:

Breeder identification numbers are free and available to cat and dog breeders online through the NSW Pet Registry.  

New breeder identification numbers will continue to be issued by the NSW Pet Registry to new owners who identify as breeders. This must happen before an animal is sold or given away.

Cat and dog breeders that are members of a recognised breeding body, like Dogs NSW, are also able to use their member number as a breeder identification number.

To register a cat or dog or find your breeder identification number, visit the NSW Pet Registry.

Rehoming organisation number:

The Office of Local Government will issue rehoming organisation numbers (PDF, 69.3 KB) to local councils, pounds and shelters and certain other cat and dog rehoming organisations.

This will help local councils and other organisations that rehome a large number of cats and dogs; enabling them to use a single number in place of multiple microchip numbers, while still providing traceability of cats and dogs that are advertised.

To comply with the new rules when advertising, you can use either:

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

If you are only selling one cat or dog and it is already born, you may find it easier to use a microchip number.  If you are selling more than one cat or dog, you will need to list each animal’s microchip number or you can choose to use a breeder identification number.

A breeder identification number will be easier to use in your advertisements when:

  • The litter you want to sell hasn’t been born yet
  • You are selling multiple cats or dogs.

Only recognised rehoming organisations can use a rehoming organisation number.

The new requirement will apply to all advertisements of cats and dogs being offered for sale or being given away for free, whether or not the person selling them is a hobby or professional breeder or is the owner of a pet that has an accidental litter.

It also applies to advertisements to find a cat or dog a new home irrespective of the animal’s age and includes litters that have not yet been born.

Exemptions will apply for some working dogs.

The requirement applies to all ‘regulated’ cats or dogs.

A regulated cat or dog is defined as any of the following:

  • a cat or dog that is or will be required by the Companion Animals Act 1998 to be identified (microchipped), including a cat or dog that has not been born or has not yet reached the age at which identification is required;
  • a greyhound (whether or not it is registered in accordance with the greyhound racing rules) including a greyhound that has not been born;
  • a cat or dog that is in the custody of a council including a council pound; and
  • a cat or dog that is the custody of the Animal Welfare League NSW, the Cat Protection Society of NSW, or the RSPCA.

Yes, the requirement applies to all people who are giving away or selling a cat or a dog.

A small number of exemptions apply.

For example, working dogs that are not required to be microchipped under the Companion Animals Act 1998 do not need to include an identifying number in advertisements. It will also not apply to proposed or declared menacing, dangerous and restricted dogs as it is illegal to sell or advertise these dogs in NSW. The advertising requirement will apply to all ‘regulated’ dogs, including hunting dogs.

Some working dogs are not required to be microchipped under the Companion Animals Act 1998, and therefore advertisements to sell or give away these dogs do not need to include an identifying number.

This includes working dogs used primarily for the purpose of droving, tending, working or protecting stock, and includes a dog being trained as a working dog. If your working dog is ordinarily kept in the Western Division of NSW that does not fall within a local government area or on land rated as farmland, it is also exempt from the identification requirements.

Even though it is not a legal requirement, you should consider having your working dog microchipped and registered for its protection.  No fee is payable to register a working dog.

A working dog that has been declared as a nuisance dog, a restricted dog or a declared dangerous or menacing dog, must be microchipped and registered with your local council. In addition, any dog, including a working dog, that is taken into the custody of a council pound must be microchipped and registered before being returned to its owner.

From 1 July 2019, it will be an offence if a person does not use an identifying number in an advertisement. It will also be an offence to falsify a number.

Sellers can be issued an on-the-spot fine by an enforcement officer of $330 if they do not include an identification number in an advertisement.

Failure to display an identification number, or falsification of a number can also carry a maximum penalty of $5,500 in court.

Buyers will be able to search the NSW Pet Registry to see what is recorded for the cat or dog’s breed, sex, age, whether it is desexed and whether or not it is already registered. A breeder identification number search will also display any recorded business name. Safeguards are in place to ensure personal information is protected.

People will be able to use your breeder identification number or a microchip number for an animal to search the NSW Pet Registry. They can see any publicly available information on the Registry. It is important that this information is kept up to date. Visit the NSW Pet Registry website for more information.

If a registered greyhound racing industry participant wishes to sell or give away a greyhound they own, the advertisements will need to display an identification number.

Identification numbers for racing greyhounds will be used by animal welfare enforcement agencies to help trace racing greyhounds throughout their lifecycle.

You can use either the dog’s microchip number, or your registered participant number in place of a breeder identification number.

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 (GWIC) to request this information on 1800 951 755.

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.

A new greyhound register is being developed through the GWIC. Enforcement officers of GWIC will be able to use this register to search greyhounds owned by registered greyhound participants.

The advertising requirement will be enforced by the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 enforcement agencies; these are RSPCA NSW, Animal Welfare League NSW and NSW Police. Local council officers do not have these powers.

The Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission will also be able to enforce the requirement for greyhounds that are being advertised by registered greyhound racing participants.

If you suspect that an advertisement does not include an identification number, or if it might display a false number, you should contact one of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 enforcement agencies; RSPCA NSW, Animal Welfare League NSW, or NSW Police. Local councils will not have these powers.

If the advertisement relates to a greyhound owned by a greyhound racing participant, you should contact the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission.

When a complaint is received, an animal welfare inspector will investigate and make a decision based on the evidence he/she can find as to what will be done.

The inspector may take one or more of the following actions:

  • provide advice on appropriate care
  • officially warn the person/s
  • issue directions to the owner to address welfare issues
  • issue an infringement notice
  • collect evidence to begin a prosecution
  • seize the animal/s

The inspector may then re-visit an individual and/or premises to ensure that directions or advice have been followed.  In the event that these directions or advice have not been followed, further action may be taken.

Inspectors can exercise discretion to ensure appropriate action is taken where someone is not complying with the advertising requirement.

How to sell or rehome a cat or dog in NSW

Make sure your cat or dog is microchipped

In NSW, you must microchip your cat or dog before it is 12 weeks old or before you sell it (whichever happens first). Some exemptions apply.

Make sure your cat or dog is registered

You also need to register dogs by the time they are six months old, and cats by the time they are four months old.

Once you have paid the registration fee, the animal will have lifetime registration, even if ownership changes.

You can register your cat or dog:

Consider desexing your cat or dog

Consider desexing your cat or dog prior to selling or giving it away. Desexing can help avoid some unwanted diseases and behaviours and stops unwanted litters.

Some councils will give you a discounted registration fee if your animal is desexed. To find out more, contact your local council.

Advertise it for sale using an identification number

From 1 July 2019, you need to include an identification number is any advertisements when you sell or give away a cat or dog.

An identification number can be either:

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

This rule applies regardless of:

  • the age of the animal
  • the place you plan to advertise
  • whether you are a hobby or professional breeder; or your cat or dog has had an accidental or one-off litter
  • whether or not you bred the animal
  • whether or not the animal you are selling or rehoming has been born yet.

If you don’t use an identification number, or you falsify a number, you could be issued with an on-the-spot fine or face court, where a maximum penalty of $5,500 applies.

Make sure ownership is transferred

When you are happy you have found a good home for your cat or dog, you need to transfer the ownership to the person buying or adopting your pet.  It is important that you check that this has been done and the person has accepted ownership. Visit the Office of Local Government website to find out more.