NOTE: This factsheet provides a general explanation of the legislation. It is not an exact replica of the legislation and should not be used for legal purposes. Always refer directly to the legislation and regulations when considering the legal implications of this information.
Animal rescue, relating to the rehoming of dogs and cats is a growing industry in Victoria. Community foster care networks, rescue groups and foster carers are essential in assisting to reduce the number of animals located in pounds and shelters. The process of rehabilitating and rehoming dogs and cats can be greatly assisted by these groups and helps reduce the number of animals euthanized due to not being able to find new homes.
Many community foster care networks and rescue groups also take dogs and cats that are directly surrendered by their owners, when they are no longer willing or able to care for that animal. These networks will then work to find a suitable home for the animal, which means that each animal is given the best opportunity for a low stress transition to a new home.
Community Foster Care Networks (CFCN)
A Community Foster Care Network (CFCN) coordinates and may provide temporary care for dogs and cats from shelters, pounds or surrenders in people's homes (private residential premises). A CFCN seeks permanent housing for the dogs or cats in care. Most CFCNs work with a network of foster carers to enable the CFCN to rehabilitate and rehome more animals. A CFCN could be any size from small through to very large and may be operating with a single person or as a complex organisation involving many people.
A CFCN is not considered a Domestic Animal Business - Animal Shelter as the number of animals kept on one property is limited to housing animals within the council and planning requirements. Most councils in Victoria limit the number of cats and dogs that can be kept on any one property.
New guide for Victorian dog and cat community foster care networks and rescue groups
A new guide has been developed, to provide Victorian dog and cat community foster care networks and rescue groups with guidance on meeting minimum legislative requirements and maximising the welfare of domestic animals being cared for and rehomed.
A foster carer is a person who undertakes temporary care of an individual or special group of animals for the purpose of giving the animals care until they can be rehomed. Most foster care takes place in a person's home which enables specific care and treatment.
Foster carers have a very important role in providing rehabilitation and care for animals in an environment outside a pound or shelter, ensuring that the animals have the best chance at being rehomed.
There is no limit to the period of time an animal may be fostered. However, foster carers must comply with council and planning laws with respect to the number and confinement of animals on their given property.
It is important to remember that in all cases, the foster carer must ensure that the dog or cat is registered with the local council for the duration of its stay. Victorian councils can issue a monetary fine to the carer of any unregistered dog or cat and also have the power to seize any unregistered animal.
Every person that works with animals has an obligation to know what laws they must abide by, for both the welfare of the animal and person caring for that animal. The legislation in Victoria is a tiered system that consists of Acts, Regulations, Codes of Practice and Council Local Laws.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTA) seeks to protect animals from neglect and cruelty and sets out offences for failing to properly care and provide for a dog or cat including the provision of proper and sufficient food, water, shelter and vet treatment as well as offences such as deliberate cruelty, ill treatment, causing unnecessary pain or suffering, abandonment of cats and dogs and transport of dogs on moving vehicles.
The Domestic Animal Act 1994 (the Act) seeks to protect the community from animals becoming a nuisance or danger and sets out requirements for keeping cats and dogs. The following summary applies to CFCN and foster carers:
- Every dog and cat over 3 months old must be registered with the Council in which they are located.
- Every dog and cat must be microchipped to be registered with Council.
- Every dog and cat must wear their Council registration tag when outside the property in which they are kept.
- Dogs must be adequately confined to the house / yard and must not be allowed to stray.
- Dogs and cats must not be allowed to cause nuisance (ie excess barking).
- Owners of dogs and cats must be over 18 years old.
In addition to these legislative obligations, there are local government laws which regulate the way in which dogs and cats are kept. The following summary applies to CFCN and foster carers:
- limits on numbers of dogs or cats that may be kept on a property without an excess animal permit
- mandatory de-sexing orders for dogs and cats in some local government areas
- cat curfews (keeping cats indoors at night - house, enclosure, shed or garage) to protect native wildlife
- leashing requirements for dogs in public places
- collection of dog faeces in public places.
It is the responsibility of the person keeping a dog or a cat to know what their Council allows.
Section 84Y agreements
What are s84Y agreements?
In Victoria, dogs and cats may be impounded due to a large number of reasons. When an owner is unidentifiable, unable or unwilling to collect that animal it may require extra care or be assessed as suitable for rehoming.
Under the provisions of the Domestic Animals Act 1994 (the Act), section 84Y allows for Councils to enter into a written agreement for the seizure, holding and disposal of dogs and cats. These agreements may be made between the Council and a pound, shelter, vet clinic, community foster care network or foster carer depending on the needs of the animals.
The provisions of the Act, allow for a person or body (that has an 84Y (a)(b) &/or (c) with a Council ie a pound, shelter or vet clinic) to have an 84Y(ca) agreement with a community foster care network on the condition that the dog or cat is desexed and microchipped prior to leaving the ownership of the person or body.
Animals moving to a Community Foster Care Network under an 84Y(c) agreement are not required to have been desexed or microchipped prior to leaving the pound. Under an 84Y(c) agreement it is the responsibility of the person or group that take possession of the animal directly from the pound to desex and microchip the animal before it leaves their ownership. Carers are limited to caring for the number of animals permitted by their municipal (local) council.
The following flow chart provides the pathways available to pounds, shelters, CFCN and foster carers for the management and rehoming of dogs and cats.
This publication may be of assistance to you but the State of Victoria and its employees do not guarantee that the publication is without flaw or is wholly appropriate for your particular purposes and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss or other consequence which may arise from you relying on any information in this publication.