Domestic animal legislation and latest news
Sunset of the Domestic Animals Regulations, November 2015
The new Domestic Animals Regulations 2015 commence on 26 November 2015. The Domestic Animals Regulations 2005 were due to sunset on 29 November 2015, and have been reviewed and replaced by the Domestic Animals Regulations 2015.
Key changes to the Regulations include:
- an amended definition of a microchip 'reader' to reflect current technology;
- removal of the requirement for 'sealed' concrete in dangerous and restricted breed dog enclosures. The requirement for 'sealing' of the concrete is unnecessary in a private residence where the enclosure is only required to house a single dog, unlike in a pound or shelter facility where hygiene is paramount;
- an amendment of the minimum width of dangerous and restricted breed collars; improving dog owners' ability to source collars that meet the requirements of the Regulations and improve the fit and comfort of collars for smaller dogs;
- amendment to references to scent trailing hounds registered with the Secretary to reflect machinery of government changes and references to the Game Management Authority;
- inclusion of a prohibition on the movement of a microchip record between microchip registries once a record has been established for an animal. The purpose of this is to prevent a single animal having multiple records on multiple registries, which can be difficult for owners to keep up to date. Preventing transfer of records between registries will improve the return of lost animals to their owners and, in some cases, reduce the time taken for owners to be notified that their animal is lost;
- amendment to the length of time a record must be kept by a registry. Records must now be kept for the lifetime of the animal or 30 years, whichever is the 'greater';
- prescribing the requirements for proof of change of ownership of an animal on an animal registry record, in cases where ownership is in dispute, to an order of the court of VCAT; and
- increasing the number of practical hours a dog trainer must complete before being fully qualified, from 25 to 100. This change is in line with current industry practice.
The Regulations are available at www.legislation.vic.gov.au click on 'law today' then select "Statutory Rules" beginning with 'D'.
Parliamentary Inquiry into restricted breed dog legislation
A Parliamentary Inquiry into restricted breed dog legislation has begun, and will return its report no later than 31 March 2016. The Victorian Parliament's Economy and Infrastructure Committee will be considering whether the current laws encourage responsible dog ownership and protect both the community and the environment. In addition to canvassing community concerns about the management of dangerous dogs, the inquiry will inform proposed changes to the Domestic Animals Act 1994 with regards to the current moratorium on the destruction of restricted breed dogs.
The Committee invites submissions from individuals, groups or organisations with an interest in this important issue. All submissions are public documents unless confidentiality is requested and granted by the Committee. Closing date for submissions: 10 July 2015.
For information on making a submission please visit: http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/eic/article/2626
For further information please visit www.parliament.vic.gov.au/eic or phone the Committee Secretariat on (03) 8682 2817.
Moratorium on euthanasia
Legislation changes have imposed a moratorium on the destruction of restricted breed dogs, while the Parliamentary Inquiry into the effectiveness of current legislative arrangements is underway.
Councils will be required to hold restricted breed dogs, rather than euthanising them, until 30 September 2016 (or until the recommendations from the Parliamentary Inquiry are implemented– whichever comes first).
The moratorium will ensure that no dog is destroyed solely because of it being a restricted breed dog. This will only affect newly declared restricted breed dogs that cannot be registered under the current law or dogs where council decide to refuse registration because of their breed.
The moratorium will not protect restricted breed dogs from destruction in other cases where destruction powers are provided such as: a dog that has attacked, a dog attacking livestock or a dog destroyed under health grounds.
New record keeping requirements for pet shops
The Victorian Government has introduced new record keeping requirements for pet shops in Victoria, as part of its crackdown on illegal puppy farming.
From 1 July 2015, pet shop owners must keep detailed records on every individual dog and cat sold or offered for sale, including where they were sourced from.
This will allow authorised officers from local Councils, the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources and the RSPCA to review the information and identify illegal breeders for further investigation.
These requirements were introduced in response to community concern about pet shops selling animals bred in illegal and cruelly operated puppy farms.
A fact sheet with more information on these requirements, along with a template 'pet shop animal record' document, can be found online.
The Lost Dogs' Home Audit Report
In Victoria, animal shelters must be registered with the local council and comply with the Domestic Animals Act 1994 and the Code of Practice for the Management of Dogs and Cats in Shelters and Pounds (Revision 1).
The Lost Dogs' Home (LDH) is a Victorian animal shelter that has recently been the subject of community concern, in relation to its animal housing, return, rehoming and euthanasia practices. Subsequently, the Minister for Agriculture directed the department to undertake an audit to investigate these issues.
The audit process involved the department meeting with the registering agent, Melbourne City Council, to identify any specific areas of concern in relation to past audits, issues or complaints. Authorised officers of the department then audited the three LDH sites: North Melbourne (28-29/1/15), Cranbourne (2/2/15), and Echuca (3/2/15).
Full results of the audits are available below.
Act and regulations
Animal Welfare legislation
Domestic Animals Act 1994
The latest version of this Act can be found at legislation.vic.gov.au. Click on 'law today' then select "Acts" beginning with 'D'.
Domestic Animals Regulations
The latest version of these Regulations can be found at legislation.vic.gov.au. Click on 'law today' then select "Statutory Rules" beginning with 'D'.
The Governor in Council may make Orders by publishing in the Government Gazette exemptions of any animal or class of animal to be exempt from any or all of the provisions of the Act.
The following are the published Orders currently in place:
- Exemption Order for dingoes (wildlife) exemption from registration with Council of individual dingoes and from domestic animal business registration for dingo breeders - Dingo Wildlife Order
- Exemption Order for owners of racing greyhounds exempting these dogs from the requirement to register racing Greyhounds with Council - Greyhound - Exemption Order
- Exemption Order for Greyhound Adoption Dogs exempting these dogs from the requirement to wear muzzles in public places - Greyhound - GAP Exemption Order
- Exemption Order for 'Lost Dogs Home' from the operation of Section 63A of Domestic Animals Act exempting the Lost Dogs home from the operation of Section 63A of Domestic Animals Act in relation to compliance with the provision under clause 2.3.6 of the Code of Practice for the Management of Dogs and Cats in Shelters and Pounds - Lost Dogs Home -Exemption Order 01-02-02
- Exemption Order for Imported Schutzhund trained dogs exempting imported schutzhund trained German Shepherds from section 10A(4)(a), section 40, and section 41(1) of the Domestic Animals Act - Imported Schutzhund trained German Shepherds Order 31-3-09
- Notice of approval of Guide Dog Training Organsations - there has been a new Gazettal for the 'Approval of Guide Dog Training Organisations'. The new Gazettal, published in The Victoria Government Gazette, on 14 March 2013 replaces the previous 'Approval' dated
14 March 1996 (attached). The change reflects the current business names of the operating organisations (Guide Dogs Victoria and Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dogs).
In addition to the new 'Approval' the Minister has provided the Approved Guide Dog Organisations with an exemption from the requirements of being a domestic animal business and from the requirements of section 96 of the Domestic Animals Act, 1994 (attached).
- Notice of Declaration of Applicable Organisations - Notice of Declaration of Applicable Organisations
- Exemption Order for the Scientific Establishments from registering dogs and cats - Exemption Order
- Exemption Order from the Victorian Animal Aid Trust from Specific operation of 63A - Exemption Order
The Secretary of the department has the power to require certain experience or qualifications to provide services under the Act.
The following are the published prescribed requirements currently in place:
- Notice of prescribed qualifications for non-Council employees to be Authorised Officers - Prescribed Qualifications for Non-Council Employees to be Authorised
- Approved qualifications for people to become Authorised Impanters to implant microchips into dogs and cats - Microchip Authorised Implanter Approved Qualifications