Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Legislation
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Summary of legislation
The Minister for Agriculture is responsible for this legislation. It is administered by staff in the Biosecurity Division of the department and consists of the principle Act, principle regulations, Domestic Fowl Regulations and a large number of Codes of Practice.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTA) is set up in 5 main parts:
- Part 1 outlines its purpose, scope, application and code making powers.
- Part 2 broadly defines cruelty offences, penalties, rodeo requirements and appointment of inspectors.
- Pat 2A sets out the enforcement powers and responsibilities of inspectors
- Part 3 provides provisions concerning use of animals in scientific procedures.
- Part 3A provides provisions relating to the infringement notices
- Part 4 provides for miscellaneous requirements and offences as well as setting out regulation making powers
- Part 5 sets out transitional arrangements that are in place
Part 1 of the Act sets out what an animal is for the purposes of the Act, it also sets out when the Act applies to an animal or a persons activities. There are a number of exemptions built into the POCTA Act for activities undertaken in accordance with other legislation, codes of practice made under this Act or the Livestock Management Act Standards.
However this does not allow cruelty to occur and where people are not complying with the specific requirements of these other Acts, standards or codes they can still face prosecution for cruelty.
While the majority of people who own or interact with animals treat them humanely and comply with agreed animal welfare standards, there are instances where this is not the case and an investigation is need to identify whether a breach of the legislation has occurred. If there is concern over a potential breach of the Act, regulations or codes this should be reported to an officer authorised under Part 2 or the Act.
Under Part 2 and Part 2A of the Act the following officers are authorised to have powers to investigate cruelty to animals all Police officers, authorised by the Minister for Agriculture, who are Livestock Disease Control Act inspectors, RSPCA officers or Authorised Council Officers. In addition all officers of Victoria Police are authorised under these parts.
The department and the RSPCA have a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in place to assist in coordinating investigation activities. This MOU sets out that the RSPCA is primarily responsible for investigation of companion animals and non-commercial livestock animal welfare issues. The department is primarily responsible for investigation of commercial livestock animal welfare issues.
Note: 'Commercial animals' are defined as more than 10 livestock animals of one species or more than 500 poultry and where the keeping of such livestock is a significant or primary business of the person or organisation, but does not include zoos, riding schools, horses used in standardbred or throroughbred racing, pet shops, greyhound racing or rodeos.
The two organisations often assist each other with difficult investigations or refer cases as required. They may also work with both local government and police or with authorised officers under other legislation (for which there is an exemption under Part 1 of the Act) to ensure that unreasonable treatment of animals is properly investigated and appropriate action taken where necessary.
Part 3 of the Act ensures that animals used in research are treated as humanely as possible. The Victorian legislation incorporates the provisions of the Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes 7th Edition 2004 (which is available from Commonwealth Bookshops or download from this site under Legislation and Codes of Practice) and legislates the codes of practice for laboratory animals and use of animals from municipal pounds in research. The Act requires that those who have responsibility for the welfare of experimental animals have a higher duty of care than for animals in other situations.
Features of this part of the legislation include the licensing of research groups wanting to use animals and that projects involving animals cannot proceed without the approval of an Animal Experimentation Ethics Committee (AEEC). Establishments, investigators and AEEC's must conduct their activities according to the Australian Code of Practice referred to above. Each licensed establishment must have an AEEC to consider all proposals to use animals.
Animal Welfare Victoria licenses and monitors use of animals in scientific procedures.
Act and Regulations
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2019 (Principal Regulations)
Recognition of interstate court bans on animal ownership
Declaration of interstate laws
Approved hunting organisations
- Seven Creeks Hunt Club Inc
- Victorian Hound Hunters Inc
- Hunt Clubs Association of Victoria Inc
- Australian Deer Association Inc
- Tocumwal Hunt Club Inc
The Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals in Hunting defines an approved organisation as one that promotes ethical hunting and compliance of members with the code by:
- Developing hunter education and proficiency testing programs and encouraging members to participate in these programs
- Using practice ranges so that members may use simulated targets to develop proficiency. New members or novices should practice before using firearms or bows in hunting
- Appointing sufficient numbers of experienced members as field officers so that the hunting activities of members can be adequately assessed
- Providing an annual report of the hunting activities of members (and the registration of hounds, if applicable) to Animal Welfare Victoria.