The Duty of Care is yours - you must take it seriously!
If you have animals, own animals or look after animals, you are responsible for their welfare. This applies whether your animals are pets or livestock. You may be deemed to have the care or charge of an animal if you are:
- The animal's owner
- A person with control, possession or custody of the animal
- An operator or manager of commercial premises involving the animal
- A share farmer
- A chief executive officer or a director of a company that owns the animal
Employers are liable for the actions, or inactions, of their employees in relation to the welfare of an animal.
If a company is convicted of an animal welfare offence, everyone in the management of the company (ie including directors) is deemed to have committed the same offence unless they can demonstrate the offence occurred without their knowledge or they took action to prevent the offence.
Penalties for cruelty are significant
The maximum penalties for animal welfare breaches were increased in 2015. A person found guilty of aggravated cruelty can now be sentenced to up to 5 years' imprisonment and/or fined up to 200 penalty units (currently approximately $30,000). A corporation can be fined up to 5 times this amount.
Less serious animal welfare breaches can be dealt with by infringement notices.
Neglect is cruelty
There is a legal requirement that animals unable to provide for themselves must be given appropriate and sufficient food, water, shelter and exercise. There is a legal interpretation (refer S8 of the
Animal Welfare Act 1993) of what "appropriate and sufficient" means in terms of food, water and shelter.
To report animal cruelty, please contact the RSPCA:
Phone : 1300 139 947