About the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Legislation

The Minister for Agriculture is responsible for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals legislation. It is administered by staff in Animal Welfare Victoria and consists of the principal Act, principal Regulations, Domestic Fowl Regulations and a large number of Codes of Practice.

This page covers:

The Act


Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTA Act) has five parts:

  • Part 1 — purpose, scope, application and code-making powers
  • Part 2 — cruelty offences, penalties, rodeo requirements and appointment of inspectors
  • Part 2A — enforcement powers and responsibilities of inspectors for Part 2
  • Part 3 — provisions concerning use of animals in scientific procedures
  • Part 3AA – enforcement provisions regarding animals in scientific procedures
  • Part 3A — infringement notices
  • Part 3B — use of the Animals in Research and Teaching Welfare Fund
  • Part 4 — miscellaneous requirements and offences and regulation-making powers
  • Part 5 — transitional arrangements that are in place.

Part 1 of the Act

Part 1 of the POCTA Act sets out what an animal is for the purposes of the Act. It also sets out when the POCTA Act applies to an animal or to a person's 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
  • the Livestock Management Act standards

However, this does not permit cruelty to occur. Where people are not complying with the specific requirements of these other Acts, standards or codes they can still face prosecution for cruelty.

Part 2 of the Act

Under Part 2 and Part 2A of the POCTA Act officers authorised to have powers to investigate cruelty to animals are all Victoria Police officers and, where authorised by the Minister for Agriculture, the following officers:

  • State Government officers
  • Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Victoria Inspectors
  • authorised Council Officers
  • Greyhound Racing Victoria officers
  • Game Management Authority officers.

If you witness cruelty or suspect cruelty is occurring, you can contact the relevant enforcement agency.

Part 3 of the Act

Part 3 of the POCTA 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 8th Edition 2013. It legislates the codes of practice for laboratory animals and use of animals from municipal pounds in research.

The POCTA Act requires that those who have responsibility for the welfare of experimental animals have a higher responsibility 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 Ethics Committee (AEC).

Establishments, investigators and AECs must conduct their activities according to the Australian Code of Practice. Each licensed establishment must have an AEC to consider all proposals to use animals.

Animal Welfare Victoria licenses and monitors use of animals in scientific procedures.

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2019

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (POCTA) Regulations 2019 commenced on 14 December 2019.

The POCTA Regulations 2019 aim to protect the welfare of animals in Victoria. They support the State’s primary animal welfare legislation to prevent or minimise harm through regulation of specific activities.

The regulations cover:

  • transport of animals
  • prohibited devices
  • pain relief for mulesing and overgrown wool on sheep
  • fruit netting
  • electrical devices including electronic collars
  • traps and oxy-LPG devices
  • rodeos
  • use of animals in scientific procedures and teaching.

Animal Welfare Victoria developed the POCTA Regulations 2019 to replace the expiring POCTA Regulations 2008.

The POCTA Regulations 2019 make improvements on important animal welfare issues including new requirements for:

  • Animals left unattended in motor vehicles when the temperature is at, or exceeds, 28 degrees Celsius [Regulation 6(2)].
  • Dogs secured to metal trays when the temperature is at, or exceeds, 28 degrees Celsius require access to an area insulated from the hot metal surface. [Regulation 6(4)].
  • Time off-water when transporting livestock or farm animals must not exceed times in the Land Transport Standards and Guidelines [Regulation 6(5)].
  • Transportation of livestock if not able to walk on its own by bearing weight on all legs [Regulations 6(6)].
  • Transport of livestock in passenger vehicles [Regulations 6(7)].
  • Animal tethering requirements [Regulation 7].
  • Sheep with overgrown wool [Regulation 8(1)].
  • Conditions for the use of Oxy-LPG pest-control devices [Regulation 12].
  • Sale and use of appropriate fruit netting to protect wildlife [Regulation 13].

The new regulations also include changes in the following key areas:

Pain relief when mulesing [Regulation 8(2)]

  • From 1 July 2020, if you are mulesing sheep in Victoria, you must administer pain relief to those animals.
  • This means using a pain-relieving product registered for use on sheep by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.
  • If you are unsure about what products you should be using speak to your veterinary practitioner.

Note: Producers are reminded that they are legally required to keep records of agricultural and veterinary chemical product(s) used on their farm, therefore full records of use of the registered pain relief product(s) must be kept.

Sale and use of electronic devices and collars [Regulations 14-29] including:

  • Definition of a qualified dog trainer, to mean a person who holds qualifications approved by a Ministerial order.
  • Standards for the specification and design for what constitutes an authorised electronic collar for dogs and cats is approved by a Ministerial order.
  • Exemptions are introduced for Victoria police, the Australian Federal police and the Australian Defence Force for the use of remote-training and anti-bark electronic collars.
  • New Ministerial approval process for the use of an electronic device that provides a therapeutic effect to an animal.
  • Use of electric prodders on pigs is now allowed during transport under specific circumstances.

Sale and use of traps [Regulations 30 – 69], including:

  • New Ministerial approval process to permit use of leghold traps for declared feral cats in limited circumstances and only where the feral cat declaration applies and eradication is achievable.
  • Clarification to the prescribed features of rodent kill traps - trap jaws must not be toothed, serrated or sharp-pointed in a way that can pierce or tear the skin of the animal.
  • Rodent kill traps must not be designed to drown an animal.
  • Sale, use or setting of glue traps that can trap an animal is banned.
  • Sale, use or setting of a glue trap for the purposes of capturing an insect is only permitted where the trap has a cage, or is of a design, that prevents an animal contacting the adhesive surface.
  • New Ministerial approval process for land managers of unincorporated areas to manage domestic dogs and cats, or other species normally kept in captivity, when caught in a trap.
  • Fees introduced for applications where Ministerial approval is required for setting or use of a trap type or in an urban area.

Operational and administrative processes for rodeos [Regulations 70 – 105], including:

  • New requirement for an Animal Welfare Plan to be submitted when applying for a rodeo, or rodeo school, licence or permit.
  • Flexibility for start and finish times to allow for weather extremes.
  • Ability for the Man from Snowy River Bush Festival Committee to apply for a permit to operate a brumby catch event at that festival only.
  • Clearer application process, including charging of fees, for Ministerial approval of a rodeo organisation.
  • New provision prohibiting motor vehicles from being present in the arena while the rodeo, or rodeo school, is being held except in an emergency situation.
  • Updated fees for rodeo/rodeo school licences and permits.

Scientific procedure record-keeping, the sourcing of animals, and training of Animal Ethics Committee members [Regulations 106 – 146], including:

  • Mandatory training for Animal Ethics Committee members.
  • Changes to record keeping, fieldwork notification and annual reporting requirements.
  • Revocation of the Victorian code of practice for the use of animals from municipal pounds in scientific procedures and changes to allowable sources of certain animals.
  • New responsibilities for licence nominees.

Read the full POCTA Regulations 2019.

Visit Engage Victoria for a summary of the consultation process, feedback received and changes made to the regulations.

Notices made under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2019

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Domestic Fowl) Regulations 2016

These regulations provide for the conditions under which domestic fowl are housed including requirements for:

  • conditions for keeping domestic fowl
  • cage requirements for domestic fowl — kept for egg production including minimum cage floor areas
  • minimum floor areas for domestic fowl — kept for egg or meat production in non-cage systems
  • range requirements for domestic fowl

Version incorporating amendments as at 4 October 2016:

Page last updated: 10 Feb 2023