Government Collars Animal Cruelty With Tough New Laws

The Andrews Labor Government is taking a tougher stance on animal cruelty by introducing legislative changes that will deliver increased penalties, tougher enforcement powers and greater protections for vulnerable animals.

Changes to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 will ensure the Act’s purposes continue to be met and that offences and sanctions imposed on offenders are in line with community expectations.

Amendments to the Act, to be introduced into Parliament this week, will increase penalties for cruelty and aggravated cruelty, boost the capacity of courts to ban offenders from being in charge of animals, and increase authorities’ power to deal with offences and to better respond to large scale animal welfare emergencies.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment Bill 2015 also marks the commencement of the Labor Government’s response to the Report of the Chief Veterinarian into live baiting in the greyhound racing industry by increasing penalties and strengthening enforceability for baiting and luring offences (Recommendation 1.7).

Financial penalties for luring, baiting and blooding will be doubled under the changes, increasing fines up to $75,835 or up to two years imprisonment, in line with the maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty.

The bulk of the legislative reforms recommended by Racing Integrity Commissioner, Sal Perna, and Victorian Chief Veterinarian Officer, Charles Milne, will be contained in specific legislation to be introduced later this year.

The Bill will:

  • Enhance authorities’ power to immediately seize and dispose of animals where there is a large scale animal welfare emergency, rather than wait seven days
  • Ensure authorities have sufficient powers to deal with animal fights, such as dog fighting and cock fighting, and the use of animals for blooding and luring (such as in the greyhound racing industry)
  • Improve courts’ capacity to make control orders that disqualify or place conditions on individuals owning or being in charge of animals and improve inspectors’ powers to monitor compliance with such orders
  • Increase penalties for offences with cruelty and aggravated cruelty elements to align them with maximum penalties for cruelty and aggravated cruelty under the Act
  • Enhance powers of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals inspectors
  • Improve licensing and cost recovery mechanisms for animal research and teaching establishments
  • Establish the Animals in Research and Teaching Welfare Fund for monitoring and reporting on compliance by animal research and teaching establishments

Quotes attributable to Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford

“This Government is serious about animal welfare – that’s why we’re strengthening the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to make sure our vulnerable animals receive the protection they need.”

“These changes will ensure the penalties imposed on animal cruelty offenders meet community expectations.”

“Live baiting has no place in our greyhound racing industry. This Bill will deliver increased penalties and greater enforceability for baiting and luring offences to help stamp out this barbaric practice.”

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