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 January 2015 to 31 December 2019, the department enquired into 5,967 welfare complaints.
The department's record of prosecutions
From 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2019, the department prosecuted 44 cases, resulting in convictions or findings of guilt in respect of 414 charges.
These convictions and findings of guilt resulted in:
- $322,700 in fines
- $25,500 in donations to rural organisations
- sentences of 600 hours community service
- 2 terms of imprisonment
- 13 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 in the table below. You can read the media release issued by the department at the time:
No. of charges
$5,000 with conviction
$5,000 with conviction
$12,500 with conviction
$20,000 fine with conviction 100 hours community service 1-year CCO
$50,000 fine with conviction Court order**
$15,000 fine with conviction
$50,000 fine with conviction
$35,000 fine with conviction
Various across Victoria
Fines totalling $12,500 and banning order (6 months-2 years)
$3500 fine with conviction
$5000 fine with conviction and a 2-year banning order
3 month suspended jail sentence
$5000 as part of an aggregate order with conviction
Fine $12,000 with conviction and 10 year banning order
Fined $5000 without conviction
CCO of 200 hours without conviction
Fined $50,000 without conviction and 5 year banning order
RSPCA donation of $25,000, without conviction and 12 month undertaking of good behaviour
Fined $8000 with conviction and 3 year banning order
Fined $2000 each without conviction
Fined $20,000 with conviction and 10 year banning order
CCO of 300 hours with conviction and banning order
Conviction and 18 month CCO with special conditions**
Trawalla livestock owner convicted for sheep cruelty
CCO = community corrections order
Special conditions** = independent assessment of welfare of animal on a quarterly basis for a period of time reported to the department