Animal Welfare Legislation In Victoria

Domestic Animals Act – CATS

Those who own cats in Victoria, or who are thinking about it, should be aware of their obligations under our State’s new Domestic Animals Act. This replaces the old State Dog Act. Among other important changes, it covers cats as well as dogs. This is the first time that cats anywhere in Australia have been included under this type of legislation.

The Act requires cats over 12 weeks of age will, like dogs, need to be registered with the local Council. Registration identification markers will have to be worn when outside the owners’ premises. Penalties will apply to those who “dump” unwanted cats – just as they do for dog dumping. The only valid argument against this legislation is that it’s long overdue. Many also feel (as we do) that it could have gone further.

On the plus side, the need for cats to carry identification markers will mean fewer strays in future. There needs to be. The Lost Dogsī Home admits over 8,000 cats and kittens every year. The number that carry identification is negligible – 40 or so a year. This situation will almost certainly improve – enabling us to return more strays to their homes.

On the less positive side, the Act doesn’t require domestic cats (or dogs) to be desexed. However it does encourage it by stipulating that registration fees must be considerably less for desexed pets. Check with your own Local Council on how this will apply to your cats.

There is much to be said for keeping all cats in a secure environment – especially at night. Roaming cats run the risk of death or injury through being run over by cars, or because of attacks by other animals.

There’s no foundation for the belief that a cat must be “put out” at night. These days responsible dog owners keep their pet in at night. So why put cats out? They too deserve a secure and warm place to rest at night – away from all danger. The new Act doesn’t insist on it, more’s the pity, but it’s certainly the right thing to do.

Of course enlightened owners now provide a suitable secure environment for their cats during the day too. These include simple or more complex modular out-door “cat parks” – ample space cages joined by enclosed walkways. They provide entertainment and allow cats to follow defined routes through their territory. Many are connected to their owners’ dwelling by walkways, enabling them to come and go as they please.

Since many critics are quick to point out the effect that cats have on birds and other forms of native wildlife, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources now promotes the use of “wildlife friendly” reflective cat collars. These glitter in the sun, and, when combined with small bells, warn of stalking cats. The Department has information on these and other effective environment protection measures.

Link to gov web site

The new legislation has therefore introduced some long awaited initiatives, which will almost certainly be also introduced in other States eventually. That’s good.

However we hope that truly responsible cat owners will not only comply with them. We also hope they’ll go further by adopting other ideas to create a better life for their beloved pets.

Our Policy on LEASH LAWS

All municipalities should designate accessible and suitable areas where dogs are permitted to run free under owner supervision, and effective voice or whistle control. Under such circumstances owners would still, of course, be responsible for any consequences of their dog’s misbehaviour.

There are many areas in all municipalities where dogs off lead should be prohibited by law. A substantial fine for those who ignore such laws is appropriate. The size of the fine is not that important. However, it is important that any leash law legislation be enforced seven days a week.

Parks should be divided into three areas :

(1) Dogs on lead at all times.

(2) Dogs permitted to exercise off lead but still under the effective control of the owner.

(3) Dogs prohibited (e.g. children’s playground areas).

Owners should always be responsible for collection of faeces.