Record of prosecutions

Protecting animals

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.

Enforcement powers

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:

Location

Species

No. of charges

Sentence
(conviction)

Media link

Geelong

Sheep

2

$5,000 with conviction

Geelong livestock transporter pleads guilty to animal cruelty

Pura Pura

Sheep

4

$5,000 with conviction

South-West Victorian farmer guilty of animal cruelty

Mooroopna North

Cattle

6

$12,500 with conviction

Mooroopna North farmer pleads guilty to animal cruelty charges

Donald

Cattle

31

$20,000 fine with conviction 100 hours community service 1-year CCO

Court order**

Donald farmer pleads guilty to animal cruelty charges

Cooma

Cattle

19

$50,000 fine with conviction Court order**

Cooma farmer pleads guilty to animal cruelty charges

Corack

Sheep

21

$15,000 fine with conviction

Sheep farmer fined $15,000 for animal cruelty

Tragowel

Cattle

30

$50,000 fine with conviction
Court order**

Cattle farmer pleads guilty to animal cruelty charges

Lancaster

Cattle

17

$35,000 fine with conviction

Dairy farmer pleads guilty to animal cruelty charges

Various across Victoria

Sheep

60

Fines totalling $12,500 and banning order (6 months-2 years)

Shearers plead guilty to 60 animal cruelty charges

Merino

Cattle

3

$3500 fine with conviction

South-West Victorian farmer fined for animal cruelty

Euroa

Cattle

9

$9000 fine

Euroa farmer pleads guilty to animal cruelty charges

Warrnambool

Sheep
Cattle

9

$4000 fine
Court Order**

Farmer guilty of sheep and cattle cruelty

Murtoa

Sheep

14

$5000 fine with conviction and a 2-year banning order

A Murtoa farmer convicted for sheep cruelty

Tongala

Cattle

4

$1500 fine

Livestock agent pleads guilty to cruelty charges

Barongarook

Cattle

2

$1200 fine

South-west farmer guilty of animal cruelty charges

Springback

Cattle

6

3 month suspended jail sentence
Court Order**

Springbank cattle owner guilty of cruelty offences

Neuapurr

Sheep

4

$500 donation
Undertaking of good behaviour for 12 months and 2 year banning order

Shearer disqualified for animal cruelty offences

Warrion

Cattle

2

$5000 as part of an aggregate order with conviction

South-west farmer convicted of animal cruelty charges

Giffard

Cattle

Sheep

44

Fine $12,000 with conviction and 10 year banning order

Livestock owner pleads guilty to cruelty charges

Breakaway Creek

Sheep

20

Fined $5000 without conviction

Livestock owner guilty of animal cruelty charges

Tatura

Horses

7

CCO of 200 hours without conviction

No excuse for neglecting horses

Lake Mokoan

Sheep

12

Fined $50,000 without conviction and 5 year banning order

$50,000 fine and disqualified from owning livestock

Strathbogie

Cattle

5

RSPCA donation of $25,000, without conviction and 12 month undertaking of good behaviour

Farmer ordered to pay $25,000 for animal cruelty

Mooralla

Sheep

57

Fined $8000 with conviction and 3 year banning order

Tooan farmer fined $8000 for animal cruelty

Koroit

Cattle

Sheep

26 charges

2 persons

Fined $2000 each without conviction

Koroit couple fined $4,000 for animal cruelty

Pennyroyal

Cattle

3

Fined $20,000 with conviction and 10 year banning order

Colac district ex-farmer fined $20,000 for animal cruelty

Multiple

Poultry

24 charges

2 persons

CCO of 300 hours with conviction and banning order

Poultry feed processor banned for acts of animal cruelty

Trawalla

Sheep

14

Conviction and 18 month CCO with special conditions**

Trawalla livestock owner convicted for sheep cruelty

Key

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

Page last updated: 11 Jul 2020