Domestic animal businesses
Under the provisions of the Domestic Animal Act 1994 (previously the Domestic Animals Act 1994 ) a domestic animal business is
- an animal shelter (welfare organisations such as the RSPCA and The Lost Dogs' Home);
- a Council pound (operated by the Council or a contractor on behalf of Council);
- a pet shop (operated in a permanent location that must be open at least 5 days per week);
- a dog and/or cat breeding business - where there are three or more fertile females and animals are sold (whether a profit is made or not), and the proprietor is not a member of an Applicable Organisation. If the proprietor is a member of an Applicable Organisation, they are exempt from registering as a breeding Domestic Animal Business if they have less than 10 fertile female animals AND no more than 2 are not registered with an Applicable Organisation;
- a dog training establishment (where the business is run for profit); or
- an establishment that is rearing dogs or cats (where the business is run for profit); or
- an establishment boarding dogs or cats (where the business is run for profit to provide overnight, daycare or homecare boarding)
These establishments must register their premises as a domestic animal business with their local council before they can operate that business. Such registration must be renewed annually. Councils are required to report the number of domestic animal businesses registered with them to the State Government on an annual basis.
A mandatory Code of Practice has been developed for each type of establishment outlining standards of operation that they must comply with.
Domestic animal business proprietor responsibilities
Proprietors, or owners, of domestic animal businesses must provide for the well being of all the animals kept at their business. They are responsible for supervision of staff, collation of records, the supervision of appropriate feeding and watering programs, maintaining a high level of hygiene at their premises and ensuring that veterinary care is available for the animals kept at their premises.
Proprietors of domestic animal businesses can only offer animals for sale that have been through an appropriate vaccination program prior to sale and must, on sale or giving away an animal, ensure the animal is implanted with a microchip (in the case of animal shelters and Council pounds, dogs and cats must also be desexed prior to sale). The proprietor of a domestic animal business must notify the Council in which the animal is to be kept of the name, address and microchip number of the animal sold from or given away from their premises.
In the case of pound/shelters, pet shops and breeding establishments, proprietors must provide literature to a person who purchases animals from them; this literature must include information on responsible pet ownership, appropriate housing and feeding. The proprietor must also provide a guarantee to the purchaser stating that if the animal is unacceptable for any reason that the animal can be returned within three days for a 75% refund of the purchase price or an offer of an animal of equal value with the same guarantee. Also within seven days, the proprietor must provide a similar guarantee on health grounds if supported by documentation from a veterinarian that the animal is sick after purchase. If the animal dies or is euthanased due to a disease traceable to point of sale, the proprietor must refund the full purchase price or offer a replacement animal with the same guarantee.
Council must register domestic animal businesses to operate and should conduct annual audits or regular inspections to ensure the proprietors are operating their domestic animal businesses in accord with the mandatory Code of Practice.
Council should follow up on the registration of animals purchased from domestic animal businesses to ensure compliance with the Act and the requirement of dog and cat owners to register their pets with Council.
If people have an issue with domestic animal business in their area a person can report their concerns about a domestic animal business to the Council for compliance action. Council may expect the person to provide the information in writing to give the Council Authorised Officers reasonable grounds' to investigate the claims.
Council Authorised Officers have the power to enter domestic animal businesses on reasonable grounds and at reasonable times to investigate the compliance of these establishments with the Act and specific mandatory Code of Practice the business is required to comply with.
If the domestic animal business is unregistered the Council can prosecute the proprietor for operating an unregistered domestic animal business, this offence carries a penalty of 10 penalty units in the Magistrates Court. Also, if the proprietor sells an animal from an unregistered business this is a separate offence which carries a penalty of 10 penalty units in court.
If the proprietor is not operating their domestic animal business in accord with the mandatory Code of Practice, Council Officers can issue infringements or file charges in the Magistrates Court for each breach. These offences carry a penalty of up to 10 penalty units in court. They may also revoke the business registration.
Cruelty and welfare concerns can be reported by the Council or the complainant to inspectors under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 including the Police, RSPCA and some Council officers authorised under this Act.