A NSW Government website

Assistance animals

Some dogs and cats are trained to help people with disability. These assistance animals are not pets. They provide an important service, helping people participate in personal and public activities with more confidence and independence.

This website gives information about laws for assistance animals under the Companion Animals Act 1998  in NSW only. Other government agencies can give you advice about how assistance animals are treated under other NSW laws.

What is an assistance animal?

An assistance animal in NSW must fit under any of these descriptions:

  • the animal is accredited by an animal training organisation prescribed by the Australian Government
  • the animal is trained to help a person with disability and meet standards of hygiene and behaviour appropriate for an animal in a public place.

This is based on how assistance animals are defined in federal law under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

How to register your assistance animal

Owners need to register assistance animals on the NSW Pet Registry via their local council. There is no fee for registering an assistance animal, but you must fill out and give council a Pet Registration (R2) (PDF, 147 KB) form.

Councils can request reasonable proof that your animal is a genuine assistance animal. This must include a signed statement that you are using the assistance animal for that purpose, plus either of the following proof points:

  • evidence that your animal has been trained to support your needs and meet standards of hygiene and behaviour appropriate for an animal in a public place
  • evidence that the animal has received training by an animal training organisation. This could be a certificate or another form of documentation from the organisation.

A person with disability has the right to train their own assistance animal. However, they must be able to prove this training means the animal meets the definition of an assistance animal.

Please contact your local council for advice about what kinds of proof are acceptable. 

Find out about your responsibilities as a pet owner.