Since 2001 Australian states and territories have been progressively introducing laws to make desexing and microchipping of dogs and cats mandatory, and now it’s South Australia’s turn. South Australia, which until recently had been “dragging its tail” on legislative reforms, has leapt to the head of the pack by being the first state to make both microchipping and desexing mandatory.


Where else is microchipping required?

Microchipping of dogs and cats is already compulsory in ACT, New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, and Western Australia (in Tasmania microchipping is compulsory for dogs only), and the new laws for pet owners being introduced into South Australia will make it compulsory here too. The rules form part of the amendments to the Dog and Cat Management Act passed last year by the South Australian Parliament that aim to reduce the huge number of unwanted dogs and cats that languish in animal shelters and are ultimately euthanised.


The new rules in South Australia

From 1st July 2018, all dogs and cats must be microchipped and desexed. They must be microchipped before they reach 12 weeks of age or within 28 days after an owner takes possession of the animal. Desexing must occur before the animal is six months of age or

within 28 days after the owner takes possession.


The changes come after extensive community consultation, and the involvement of a “citizen’s jury” in the development of the legislation which also has implications for breeders. Other changes intended to remedy long-standing weaknesses in the community’s management of dogs and cats, are new and increased fines and expiations for dog and cat owners who break the rules, as well as increased powers for council to investigate offenses. To review the legislation which includes details of penalties for non-compliance, refer to the Dog and Cat Management Regulations 2017.


The most important reason for microchipping

The compelling reason for dog and cat owners to get their pets microchipped, shouldn’t be penalty avoidance however. The main benefit of microchipping is that it significantly increases the chances of lost animals being reunited with their owners. Vets and shelters routinely examine strays for microchips, therefore having animals microchipped increases the opportunities to return them to their owners.

How do microchips work?

Microchips are inserted with a needle during a procedure doesn’t need anaesthetic, and only takes a few minutes. They are a non-toxic, permanent ID that lasts the life of the pet and does not cause discomfort. The chip’s unique code is read by passing a scanner over the animal.


Getting pets microchipped is only half of the process however. The other equally important step is ensuring that contact details linked to the chip are kept up to date. The easiest way to review and update your contact details is to visit You will need your pet’s microchip number which will have been provided when you had your pet microchipped. If you don’t know it, bring your pet into any of the Vets4Pets hospitals and we can check it for you.


When Petaddress has validated the microchip number, it will redirect you to the database that stores your pet’s details, so that you can contact them directly.  Some registries provide the ability to change your details online, on their websites.

The checklist for pet owners

With these latest changes, in means that in future there will be three key considerations for pet owners in South Australia:


1. Desexing*

All dogs and cats over six months of age must be desexed. Desexing is necessary to prevent unwanted pregnancies and to reduce the huge numbers of dogs and cats that are euthanised because they can’t find homes.


2. Microchipping*

Microchipping of dogs and cats will also be mandatory from 1st July 2018. Exemptions will be available only for breeders, working dogs and security dogs.


3. Registration

Registration of dogs more than three months is compulsory in South Australia. Registered owners must be at least 16 years of age. Local government has jurisdiction over registration of cats, therefore check with your Council to see what rules apply in your area.


* Vets will be allowed to defer microchipping or desexing requirements on health grounds

Additional benefits to microchipping and desexing

There are other advantages to having pets microchipeed and desexed, in addition to being more quickly reunited with them if they’re lost or run away – and avoiding fines for non-compliance; Some boarding facilities won’t accept animals that aren’t desexed, and during holiday times like Christmas and Easter when demand is highest, it can be hard to find boarding accommodation for dogs and cats. The best way to increase your chances – in addition to booking early – is to ensure that your pet meets all their requirements. A pet that is registered, microchipped, desexed, and is up to date with worming and flea treatment, will likely have better chances of finding somewhere suitable than one who isn’t.


Another important reason is that community-style living such as apartment buildings, retirement villages, and strata-title townhouse complexes that allow pets, often have rules that require pets to be registered, desexed, and microchipped. Pet owners are usually asked to provide proof that these conditions have been met, and must apply for permission to keep their pet with them before they move in.


Desexing of indoors animals will be required under the new laws

Many believe that desexing is not necessary because their pet is kept indoors, and dogs are kept on leashes when they’re walked or unattended. This may be a valid reason in principle, but even for indoor pets, desexing brings numerous health and behavioural benefits. As well as these, in both male and female cats, desexing usually leads to animal becoming more affectionate towards humans.


Still not convinced?

Aside from it being the law, microchipping and desexing is simply the right thing to do. Responsible pet owners elect to have their pets chipped and desexed for the animal’s sake, as well and the potential impact on the community and the huge problem of the growing unwanted animal population.


We can help

The team at Vets4Pets can help with any questions or concerns you may have about desexing your pet or microchipping. Maybe you’ve taken in a stray or inherited an animal, and you don’t know its history. We can help by giving your pet a thorough check and advise you on their desexing and microchipping status, as well the condition of their general health. Any of our hospitals can help.


As an additional incentive for pet owners to get their pets microchipped, Vets4Pets is offering half-price microchipping until 31st October. Don’t miss this great opportunity to save money and make sure your pet complies with the new rules. Book your half-price microchipping today.