The cash-strapped Warrnambool City Council has waived up to $198,000 in fines for unpaid pet registrations.
The council has revealed nearly 600 pet owners who received fines for not renewing their animal registration will not have to pay the infringement fee of $330.
A council spokesman said each year the owners of between seven and 10 per cent of the city's 6000 registered animals failed to reregister their pets or to notify council of changed circumstances - which might be the death of a pet.
"This year council issued a renewal notice, a reminder notice, twice advertised the requirement to renew registrations in The Standard, and sent reminder text messages to more than 900 pet owners who had not renewed pet registrations," he said.
"Council's focus is on having all dogs and cats registered, with fines issued as a last resort. This year fines were not issued until three months after the renewal deadline.
"The amnesty was introduced to give people an opportunity to provide council with updated contact information. It is anticipated that this will assist council next year with ensuring that more, if not all, pets are registered on time."
Pet owners must act before August 30 to have the fines relinquished.
Infrastructure director Scott Cavanagh said there had been debate in the community about the pet registrations and renewals.
He said more than 5400 registrations had been paid on time.
"In relation to the other almost 600 that weren't received council did issue infringement notices for those," he said.
"We do took registration and renewal very seriously."
He said one reason for that was because there was between one and two animal attacks reported each month and it was important pets were registered so they could be pursued and investigated.
"Another important aspect is if we don't pursue unpaid registrations the cost would be put on people who did pay their registrations," he said.
"We want all renewals in so we can contain that cost as best we can."
To have the fine waived the council advised owners to:
- confirm or update your contact details including mobile phone number, email and street address
- pay your 2019/20 pet registration
Residents can do this by visiting the Civic Centre at 25 Liebig Street, Warrnambool or by calling 5559 4800.
Those who have already paid the fine should contact the council to update their contact details, and they will be reimbursed.
A council notice said any pet registrations that remained unpaid after August 30 would be forwarded to Infringements Victoria.
Pet cat and dog registration renewals are required by April 10 every year.
"The tracking and management of local animals, while overseen by council, is largely regulated by a State law, the Domestic Animals Act 1994," the notice said.
"Council takes this responsibility seriously and every year goes to considerable lengths to ensure animal registrations are paid and residents are reminded to do so.
"Council receives reports of more than one dog attack per month. Dog registration helps reduce the risk of these attacks, which can be deadly.
"A percentage of each registration goes to the State Government.
"It helps pay for dog poo bags and dispensers, the animal pound, individualised registration tags for each of your registered dogs and cats, animal management staff to support the collection and return of stray animals to owners."
The council said staff attended to nuisance complaints such as barking complaints, cat and dog trespassing; dog attack/bite/rushing incidents and patrols of parks, beaches and streets.