Record of prosecutions
Agriculture Victoria administers and enforces the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTA Act).
Agriculture Victoria undertakes inquiries into animal welfare complaints, which the department receives from many sources. Complaints may lead to enforcement activities being undertaken and charges being brought for offences under the POCTA Act.
Inspectors appointed under the POCTA Act have a range of enforcement powers relating to suspected cruelty to animals. These include powers to:
- to enter and search premises
- seize animals
- inspect livestock
- take photographs and samples
- provide care for animals
- speak to owners of animals to obtain relevant information
- issue notices to comply relating to the welfare of an animal.
Charges can be brought in the Magistrates' Court of Victoria when the department considers there is sufficient evidence that an offence under the POCTA Act has been committed. In most cases, prosecution is not necessary because early intervention and other prevention methods work. Prevention is the ultimate aim.
The law as prevention
The purpose of the POCTA Act is to prevent cruelty to animals and encourage considerate treatment of animals. The Victorian Government works to ensure the effective implementation of these purposes and objectives.
Between 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2021, the department enquired into 5919 welfare complaints.
The department's record of prosecutions
From 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2021, the department prosecuted 37 cases, resulting in convictions or findings of guilt in respect of 298 charges.
These convictions and findings of guilt resulted in:
- $472,200 in fines
- $4,000 in donations
- sentences of 300 hours community service
- 1 term of imprisonment
- 11 individuals were banned from owning or managing livestock for two, seven or ten years under section 12 of the POCTA Act
- 8 individuals were subject to control orders under section 12 of POCTA Act in which they were required to meet strict conditions.
Examples of cases are provided. You can read the media release issued by the department at the time.
Court outcome media releases 2018 and prior
- Donald farmer pleads guilty to 31 animal cruelty charges – $20,000 fine with conviction, 100 hours community service, 1-year community corrections order, Court order and independent assessment of welfare of animal on a quarterly basis for a period of time reported to the department
- Cooma farmer pleads guilty to 19 animal cruelty charges – $50,000 fine with conviction Court order and independent assessment of welfare of animal on a quarterly basis for a period of time reported to the department
- Sheep farmer fined $15,000 for 21 animal cruelty – $15,000 fine with conviction
- Cattle farmer pleads guilty to 30 animal cruelty charges – $50,000 fine with conviction
Court order and independent assessment of welfare of animal on a quarterly basis for a period of time reported to the department
- Dairy farmer pleads guilty to 17 animal cruelty charges – $35,000 fine with conviction
- Shearers plead guilty to 60 animal cruelty charges – fines totalling $12,500 and banning order (6 months–2 years)
- South-West Victorian farmer fined for 3 animal cruelty – $3500 fine with conviction
- Euroa farmer pleads guilty to 9 animal cruelty charges – $9,000 fine with conviction and a two year Conditional Order
- Farmer guilty of 9 sheep and cattle cruelty – $4000 fine, Court Order and independent assessment of welfare of animal on a quarterly basis for a period of time reported to the department
- A Murtoa farmer convicted for 14 charges of sheep cruelty – $5000 fine with conviction and a 2-year banning order
- Livestock agent pleads guilty to 4 cruelty charges – $1500 fine
- South-west farmer guilty of 2 animal cruelty charges – $1200 fine
- Springbank cattle owner guilty of 6 cruelty offences – 3 month suspended jail sentence, Court Order and independent assessment of welfare of animal on a quarterly basis for a period of time reported to the department
- Shearer disqualified for 4 animal cruelty offences – $500 donation, undertaking of good behaviour for 12 months and 2 year banning order
- South-west farmer convicted of 2 animal cruelty charges – $5000 as part of an aggregate order with conviction
- Livestock owner pleads guilty to 44 cruelty charges – fined $12,000 with conviction and 10 year banning order
- Livestock owner guilty of 20 animal cruelty charges – fined $5000 without conviction
- No excuse for neglecting horses – 12 charges, CCO of 200 hours without conviction
- $50,000 fine and disqualified from owning livestock – 12 charges, fined $50,000 without conviction and 5 year banning order
- Farmer ordered to pay $25,000 for animal cruelty – 5 charges, RSPCA donation of $25,000, without conviction and 12 month undertaking of good behaviour
- Tooan farmer fined $8000 for 57 animal cruelty – fined $8000 with conviction and 3 year banning order
- Koroit couple fined $4,000 for 26 animal cruelty – fined $2000 each without conviction
- Colac district ex-farmer fined $20,000 for animal cruelty – 3 charges, fined $20,000 with conviction and 10 year banning order
- Poultry feed processor banned for 24 acts of animal cruelty – community corrections order of 300 hours with conviction and banning order
- Trawalla livestock owner convicted for sheep cruelty – 14 charges, Conviction and 18 month community corrections order with special conditions and independent assessment of welfare of animal on a quarterly basis for a period of time reported to the department