Stray Thoughts

Google Maps location for Frankston Heights Veterinary Centre

Frankston Heights Veterinary Centre
231 Frankston-Flinders Rd
VIC 3199

03 5971 4888
03 5971 4887

We’re very lucky; vet clinics are widely regarded as the “go to” place for any animal-related problem. It’s a huge compliment, but one that can leave us in a difficult position.

Almost without exception, vets prize animal well-being above anything else. It’s one of the reasons that members of the public tend to bring any stray animals that they find, into the veterinary centre. We have a microchip scanner, and can access the microchip register. So, in theory, we can reunite a lost pet with its owner.

But unfortunately, life is never quite that simple...

The Victorian Domestic Animals Act 1994 (amended 2011) was enacted to “protect the community and environment from feral and nuisance dogs and cats” and to “promote responsible ownership”.

The Act requires the person who finds a stray animal to deliver it into the care of the local council.

However  the vast majority of people would take a stray animal to a vet clinic, and it falls to us to contact the council on the finder’s behalf. We do love and respect animals but we are also governed by some strongly policed laws, and failure of a vet to surrender a stray animal to the council is breaking those laws.

* For sick or injured animals the rules are slightly different. We are allowed to contact an owner, to obtain consent to hospitalise and start treatment. However, we are still obliged to notify the Animal Welfare Officer.

Now, suppose that a stray dog bites (or worse) a child. If that dog has strayed before, and the vet has chosen to break the law and not inform the council then, in the eyes of the law, the vet is at least partly responsible for the dog being “at large” and the child being bitten. I, for one, would not want to be responsible for that.

It doesn’t even have to be an aggressive dog; what about a dog, or cat, who wanders onto the highway, causing a car to swerve and a fatal accident? Or, less dramatically, the dog who chases the postman? Or poos on the footpath outside your house.

The law serves both to protect the public, and to ensure that a stray pet has the best possible chance of being reunited with its owners.

The fear that all strays are put to sleep simply isn’t true. Nobody delights from euthanasia, and I don’t know anybody who could work in a place where euthanasing animals is anything except the very last option. The local laws officers and Animal Management Officers work very hard to reunite lost animals and their owners. They also help owners to ensure that the animals don’t stray again.

 So, what do we do at Frankston Heights Veterinary Centre?

  • We will never confiscate a stray animal from somebody who finds it.
  • If the finder cannot contact the local council, we will always do that on their behalf.
  • We will always keep a stray safe until the Animal Management Officer collects it.
  • We will always keep a record of lost and found animals, so that we can help reunite owners and pets.
  • If an animal’s owner contacts us, before the Animal Management Officer arrives, we will reunite animal and owner. In this case, the Animal Welfare Officer may make contact with the owner.
  • We will always provide first aid to an animal that needs it, and try to contact that animal’s owner.


It’s a difficult balance, but we are trying to do the best thing we can.

And we always will.


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