Questions you may have about ACT Rescue and Foster Inc (ARF) and dogs in the Canberra area. Read on.

ARF dogs are microchipped, desexed, vaccinated, wormed and health checked.

To help cover our costs, ARF asks an adoption fee of:

Puppies aged under 16 weeks (C3 vaccination) – $400 – includes $100 contribution to puppy classes

Dogs aged 16 weeks to 8yrs (C5 vaccination) – $350

Dogs aged over 8yrs (C5 vaccination) – $150

The adoption fee contributes to veterinary and other standard rescue costs, although many of our dogs also require additional veterinary care for injuries or illnesses they have when we rescue them. This adds considerably to the vet costs associated with rescuing and re-homing each dog, and the rest of the money we need is made up from fundraising and donations.

Our foster carers also contribute large amounts of their own money to save and foster dogs. We are totally non-profit and all our members are volunteers.

Donations to help us with costs are always very welcome and appreciated.

1. Act immediately

  • Check and post on Facebook in particular Canberra Lost Pet DataBase
  • Contact Domestic Animal Services, the RSPCA, Queanbeyan Pound and vet clinics. Leave a full description of your pet, your name and contact details. We suggest that you go to these places and check for yourself – see below for contact details.
  • Do a letterbox drop in your area.
  • Put posters in shops, vet clinics, bus stops, on power poles, community noticeboards, school noticeboards. Stick a poster to the back window of your car.
  •  Contact local radio stations – some may run free announcements.

2. Search the neighbourhood thoroughly

  • Search sheds, garages, buildings, parks, schools, waterways, construction sites. Do a complete door-knock, returning to houses where no-one was home later and ask every single passerby – you never know who may have spotted your dog.
    • If you have a local Neighbourhood Watch group, enlist their help.
    • Ask the Postman – they go to every home and could be a great help.
    • Ask school children – they WALK the neighbourhood, and can be a great resource. They may also know if the dog is in someone’s backyard.

3. Visit animal shelters in person

  • The ACT Pound (Domestic Animal Services), the RSPCA, and the Queanbeyan Pound are three different organisations. Check all shelters in person every couple of days. It is important to go in person as their description may not match yours. Carry documentation such as registration, microchip number, pedigree papers, vaccination certificates, photos etc.
  • Domestic Animal Services – Mugga Lane, Symonston ACT 2609 – (02) 62072424
    DAS website
  • RSPCA – 12 Kirkpatrick Street (off Cotter Road) Weston ACT 2611  (02) 6287 8100
  • Queanbeyan Council Pound – Old Sydney Road, Queanbeyan NSW 2620 – (02) 6298 0269
    Queanbeyan Pound

People need to rehome their dog(s) for many reasons – a change in family circumstances, change in accommodation, moving interstate/overseas or simply because they can’t afford to keep them anymore. Deciding that you need to rehome your dog is a difficult decision and this can be an emotional time.

ARF’s primary focus is on dogs at imminent risk of euthanasia – this usually means dogs in the pounds.

There are a number of things you should do before contacting the Pounds or RSPCA:
• If you got your dog from a breeder, try contacting the breeder to see if they can help with rehoming.
• If your dog is a specific breed, contact a rescue group specific to that breed. They often have waiting lists of people wanting that type of dog.

• Desex your dog. Your dog can then not be used for backyard breeding and is more likely to find a good home.
• Make a start on trying to re-home the dog yourself. Advertise him or her on local noticeboards, with friends, in dog clubs.
Team Dog have some great advice for people needing to rehome their dogs here and here.
• The Canberra Dog Rehoming List Facebook page helps people rehome their dogs and has had good success in finding dogs new homes.

The ACT RSPCA can in some circumstances accept surrendered dogs; more information on this is here


If you’ve tried these options but have run out of time for rehoming, you can surrender your dog to the pound. Both the ACT’s Domestic Animal Services (DAS) and Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council Animal Management Facility have low euthanasia rates and excellent relationships with rescue groups. ARF assesses the dogs at DAS and Queanbeyan each week and we do everything we can to find them a place in a rescue group, either locally or interstate. ARF has assisted in the rescue and direct adoption of thousands of dogs from these pounds.

Unfortunately the pound is a scary place for most dogs and this may mean your dog displays behaviours which are not conducive to them being adopted. There are also times that Rescue groups do not have the resources to rescue your dog and if the pound is full, your dog may be euthanased after seven days. Please consider all other options before surrendering your dog to the pound.

For more information on the local pounds and RSPCA shelter please see: Local Pounds and Shelter

Finally, be realistic. If you have explored every avenue and have had no success in finding a new home for your dog, then it might be kinder to take your dog to the vet and have him or her put to sleep while you hold them. Please never abandon your pet. This is one of worst fates any domestic pet could meet. The danger, fear, and suffering they will encounter are heartbreaking even if they manage to survive at all.

It’s a sad fact that there are too many unwanted dogs and not enough homes.

Many people worry about adopting an older dog from a pound or rescue organisation because they believe the animal will have behavioural or other problems. But, the truth is that most dogs in pounds and foster care are perfectly normal, well-behaved dogs who are there through no fault of their own!

  • Dogs get accidentally lost from gates being left open.
  • Dogs get frightened by thunderstorms and fireworks, escape, and then become lost.
  • Inappropriate dogs are chosen on impulse, and later dumped or handed into the shelter.
  • Their companions just lose interest in them.

Dogs lose their homes for many different reasons, most of them having nothing to do with problems of the dog, but rather with those of the person giving them up. The top ten reasons* people surrender their dogs are:

1. Moving

2. Landlord not allowing pets

3. Too many animals in household

4. Cost of pet maintenance

5. Owner having personal problems

6. Inadequate facilities

7. No homes available for litter mates

8. Having no time for pet

9. Pet illness

10. Biting

[*US Study conducted by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP) published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science (JAAWS)].

Older dogs can also have many advantages over puppies, such as toilet training, no chewing and a known temperament. The most important thing is to find the right type of dog to suit the individual. Most dogs become unwanted because people don’t do enough research or thinking about the right sort of dog (if any) to suit their lifestyle.

Click on the headings to see the dogs on  the  websites

Domestic Animal Services Canberra (DAS)


Address: Mugga Lane,

Symonston ACT     

Due to COVID-19 the Domestic Animal Services shelter is currently closed. To collect an impounded dog or if you are interested in re-homing a dog please phone Access Canberra on 13 22 81.

Queanbeyan Pound

PHONE: 02 6285 6269

Address: Cnr Ellerton Drive and Old Sydney Road, Queanbeyan

OPEN Monday to Friday

Between 8.30 and 10am or 4 and 5pm

Saturdays between 1 and 5pm


PHONE: (02) 6287 8100

Address:12 Kirkpatrick Street
Weston (off Cotter Road)

Animal Viewing Hours: 

Monday to Friday 10am – 4pm
Saturdays: 9am – 4pm

1. Why do I want a dog?

This could be a 10-15 year commitment. That’s a large chunk out of your life. What do you want from your dog, and is it realistic? Do you want a cuddle-bunny to sit on your lap, or a jogging companion? The answers to this question could greatly influence your choice of dog.

2. Can I afford a dog?

Dogs cost money! You need to decide if you can afford to pay veterinary and food bills etc. Your new dog will (hopefully) be with you for many years to come.

3. Do I have time for a dog?

Dogs require your time. They need social contact for their mental well-being. Not to mention training, walking, grooming and feeding time. ARF uses a ‘perfect match’ system for our dogs which will help you to choose the right dog for your lifestyle.

4. Can I have a dog where I live?

Many landlords don’t allow dogs, so check first – before you have your heart broken and your rescue dog winds up homeless yet again.

5. Is now the right time for me to adopt a dog?

If you have 3 children under six years old, or are contemplating an overseas job, or have a job which is just coming up to the busy season, for instance, it might be better to wait until you can give your new dog the attention he or she will need to help them adjust to their new home.

6. Do I have the right home for this dog?

A large dog in a small apartment might not work, if you are also unable to give the dog the appropriate level of exercise. Or perhaps you’re never home to give it the social contact it needs. Some dogs don’t like to share their humans with other pets, other dogs like to have a doggy friend to play with. Research the breed, talk to the dog’s current carers, and try to establish if you and the dog will be suited to each other.

7. Do I know how to care for a dog?

Yes – really! Dog ownership takes a certain amount of “know-how”. If you’ve never owned a dog before, or not since you were a child, you may be in for a bit of learning curve. Fortunately, the resources are out there for you if you need help.

8. What’s more important – my pet or my furniture?

If you are houseproud, are you prepared to cope if your new dog soils the carpet, or chews on the couch? What about the hair? Be honest with yourself. If these issues are important to you, that’s OK – just choose carefully so that you get a dog you CAN live with.

9. Can I be a responsible companion to a dog?

Today’s laws require your dog to be registered, identified, and kept on lead except in specific areas. If you go away on holiday without the dog, it will need to be cared for in your absence. There are your neighbours to consider – their needs, and how they will impact on your dog’s quality of life. Then there’s the everyday responsibilities of having a dog – feeding, watering, walking, bathing, grooming, loving. Are you ready for this commitment?

There are many benefits to adopting a dog from ARF:

Saving a dog’s life – you are not only saving the dog you adopt, but making space for another one in the foster carer’s home and therefore at the pound. On the whole, many dogs in the pounds get put down after the required legislative period (7 days) simply because there may not be enough room to keep them longer. Making space at a foster carer’s home means that another dog can be rescued from the pound.

Knowing what you are getting – the foster carer has looked after the dog in their own home, so you can ask about the dog’s personality, activity levels, likes and dislikes, behaviour, and training needs. You get to meet and interact with the dog in a ‘normal’ home environment, so you can get a better idea of how the dog will behave when you take him or her home.

Cooling off period – ARF offers a cool off period to ensure you and your new dog are suited to each other. Your adoption fee will be refunded if you need to return the dog for any reason at all within three weeks, and the adoption agreement also states that the you should notify ARF at any time in the future if for any reason the dog needs to be rehomed.

Companion ready – ARF re-homes dogs of all ages from puppies to senior citizens (who are usually a little cheaper to adopt).   All ARF dogs are microchipped, desexed, vaccinated, wormed and health-checked. Your adoption fee covers part of these costs and the rest are  subsidised by ARF through fundraising and donations.

We love dogs and want to make it easy for the new owners and make sure the dogs get a head start with the best care possible. Donations to help us with costs are always very welcome and appreciated.

Setting a good example – adopting a rescue dog helps show your children, friends, and family that you care about dogs in need.

Help a volunteer organisation – all adoption fees and donations go directly to help ARF save more dogs.

Access to advice and help – you gain a contact (the foster carer) who knows your dog and other dogs well, who you can turn to for advice and who will also love receiving your ‘guess what my clever dog did today!’ emails.

Best interests at heart – foster carers are all volunteers and have no other motivation than to help save dogs and ensure that people are matched with dogs that are suitable.

A happy person with a happy dog is all we want!

Identify your dog

In the ACT all dogs from eight weeks of age must be registered and microchipped. You can register your dog at Access Canberra Shopfronts, Domestic Animal Services and online at Access Canberra

Registration is for the life of the dog and you should ensure that your dog’s microchip details are kept up to date.

In addition it is also a good idea to identify your dog by having a disc on the dog’s collar with your phone number. All ARF dogs are microchipped (the cost of which is included in your adoption fee) as it is now a legal requirement to microchip your dog in the ACT.


In the ACT, all dogs must be desexed, unless you have a permit for breeding purposes.  Fees must be paid annually for these permits.

There is absolutely no need to breed from your dog. Indiscriminate breeding causes many problems because there are simply not enough homes for the accidental litters that are born each year, so desexing is recommended for both male and female dogs.

Apart from the obvious benefit to female dogs of not producing unwanted puppies, desexing can also reduce the possibility of breast cancer. Desexing male dogs can reduce aggression, wandering, urine marking and other anti-social behaviour, as well as being effective in preventing prostate trouble and cancer of the testicles.

There are many myths that surround desexing dogs. The myths that “dogs go silly after desexing” and “they will get fat” are excuses used by people who do not get their dogs desexed and do not hold any truth. Dogs will only get overweight if they have certain illnesses or are fed too much! Discuss any questions about desexing your dog with your vet.


It is essential to vaccinate your dog against Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvo-Virus. Vaccination against kennel cough and tetanus is recommended and should be discussed with your vet.

Puppies require a special vaccination course to build their immunity – you should talk to your vet about this. All dogs need booster vaccinations annually.

If your new dog is not a young puppy, you should check with the dog’s previous companions, if possible, to see whether the dog has been vaccinated. Ask for dates and vaccination cards if available.

If the dog is more than one year old, or you are unable to ascertain his/her history, have the dog vaccinated. An extra vaccination will do no harm – a vaccination missed could be fatal.


Dogs of all ages can suffer from a variety of worm infestations. These can be treated simply and efficiently with the appropriate worming medication. Regular worming will ensure that possible cross infection to humans is minimised. When you purchase your dog it is important to check that he or she has been wormed.

Immunisation is a good time to catch up on this and future requirements. Ask your vet for the appropriate treatment guide. One variety of tapeworm is also transmitted through fleas, so efficient flea control, as well as treatment of the dog is essential.

Another problem is heartworm, which is spread by mosquitoes and causes illness and eventually death by heart failure. It can be successfully prevented by monthly or daily tablets supplied by your vet, or by a yearly injection. Heartworm tablets are best started at eight weeks of age. If your dog is older that that when you take him or her home, the dog may need to be blood tested before starting on any preventative treatment. Consult your Veterinarian.


Check with your vet at check up or vaccination time to discuss your dog’s diet and ensure it’s the best it can be for your dog.

You should never feed your dog cooked bones. They cannot be digested and can splinter when chewed. They cause devastating, life threatening constipation and intestinal blockages.

However, raw bones once or twice weekly are good for the teeth.

How much food is right?

At six weeks old, puppies may need 3 to 4 meals a day, but gradually reduce this over several months to a morning and evening meal – then to 1 meal a day when the dog has finished growing (usually 12 months). Judge the amount that you feed by your dog’s condition. Overfeeding or underfeeding can cause health problems. You should always be able to feel your dog’s ribs and backbone with a gentle pressure. Remember to always provide adequate fresh water in a spill proof container that is in a shady spot. Any sudden change to your dog’s diet may trigger diarrhea, so make changes gradually.


Fleas can cause two major problems for your dog.

1. Dermatitis (often called eczema)

2. Tapeworm

Puppies can be treated with some flea powders and other treatments, but check the age restrictions on the package. Adults can be treated with flea collars, sprays, rinses, tablets or liquids.

Description Benefit Risks if not done
C5 Vaccination
(required annually)
Protection against:
Infectious Hepatitis,
Parainfluenza (the viral cause of Kennel Cough), and
Bordatella bronchiseptica (a bacteria that makes Kennel Cough worse).
Some of the signs of:

Canine Distemper include fever, diarrhoea, vomiting, depression, muscle tremors and paralysis.Infectious Hepatitis include fever, depression, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. Severe cases are rapidly fatal.

Kennel Cough includes a hacking cough. Not usually fatal, but can be severe and prolonged.

Canine Parvovirus include sudden death in young pups, bloody smelly diarrhoea, abdominal pain and uncontrollable vomiting.Note: Parvo is a major killer of dogs. It is extremely contagious and transportable to unvaccinated dogs. In some regions of NSW incl Sydney, Parvo has reached epidemic proportions. Being so easily transported, it is definitely not confined to these areas. Vaccination highly recommended.

All-wormer medication
(required quarterly)
Protection against intestinal worms. Not only can worms make your dog sick, some species of worms can also be transferred to humans, with children being most at risk. Some of the signs of:

Hookworms include weight loss, poor appetite, bloated abdomen, black tar-like diarrhoea, dehydration, enteritis and lethargy. Severe infections can be fatal.

Roundworms include coughing, diarrhoea, vomiting, bowel obstruction, pneumonia, a dull coat, and a swollen abdomen. Severe infections can be fatal.

Whipworms include abdominal pain, anorexia, pale eyelids and gums, dehydration, smelly bloody diarrhoea and weight loss. Infection in adult dogs is generally not as serious as infection in puppies, which can be fatal.

Common Flea tapeworm include irritation and itching around the anus but not considered to be a major health risk.

Hydatid Tapeworm cause life-threatening infection in humans who come in contact with hydatids from the faeces of infected dogs.

It is ARF’s policy that all dogs are desexed before rehoming unless there is veterinary advice to the contrary for an individual dogs. In the ACT, all dogs over the age of six months must be desexed, except those to whom a permit to keep a sexually entire animal relates. Fees must be paid annually for these permits.Apart from the obvious benefit to female dogs of not producing unwanted puppies, desexing can also reduce the possibility of breast cancer.Desexing male dogs can reduce aggression, wandering, urine marking and other anti-social behaviour, as well as being effective in preventing prostate trouble and cancer of the testicles. There is absolutely no need to breed from your dog. Indiscriminate breeding causes many problems because there are simply not enough homes for the accidental litters that are born each year, so desexing is recommended for both male and female dogs.There are many myths surrounding desexing. Discuss any questions or concerns about desexing your dog with your vet.
In the ACT it is compulsory for all dogs to be microchipped at point of sale.A permanent and safe way of ensuring that your pets can find their way home if they ever become lost or stolen. Not microchipping reduces the chance of a missing dog being reunited with its owner.

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