Extra funding for RSPCA and litter limits for dogs

The Victorian Coalition Government today announced an additional $6 million for RSPCA Victoria to support enforcement aimed directly at shutting down cruel and illegal puppy and kitten breeding businesses.

Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said the Victorian Coalition Government was committed to wiping out cruel and illegal breeders who profit off the misery and suffering of defenseless animals.

“The RSPCA plays an important role in enforcing Victoria’s animal welfare laws and this role has expanded since the Victorian Coalition Government’s crackdown on illegal and cruel breeders began in 2011,” Mr Walsh said.

“In August I authorised significantly greater powers for the RSPCA, including enhanced access rights at suspected illegal puppy and kitten breeding businesses and pet shops, and greater powers to seize animals and shut down illegal breeders.

“To help RSPCA officers exercise these new powers, the Victorian Coalition Government and RSPCA have reached agreement for an additional $6 million in funding over four years.

“The first allocation of $1.5 million will be paid immediately to assist with the purchase of specialised equipment and new vehicles which help RSPCA officers seize animals from illegal businesses. In March there will be a subsequent allocation of $750,000 followed by allocations of $1.5 million, $1.25 million and $1 million respectively in the next three financial years.

“This extra support from the Victorian Coalition Government will help RSPCA authorised officers target unlawful breeding operations as we work together with local councils to send a strong message to rogue breeders that there is no place for their disgraceful practices here in Victoria.”

Mr Walsh said Victoria had introduced a world-leading mandatory Breeding and Rearing Code for domestic animal businesses in April this year which, for the first time, includes requirements for animal health records, retirement plans and compulsory annual vet checks for breeding animals.

“I am also pleased to announce today that the Victoria Coalition Government has heard community concerns and has taken steps to immediately update the Code to now include five litter limits and compulsory post-birthing vet checks for breeding female dogs,” Mr Walsh said.

“The Victorian Coalition Government has done more in four years to stamp out cruelty and illegal breeders than the previous Labor government had attempted in more than a decade.

“Under the Coalition’s leadership Victoria now has dramatically increased fines, we’ve introduced 10-year animal ownership bans, created new offences and introduced a world- leading mandatory breeding and rearing code that is the toughest in Australia.

“Labor allowed animal cruelty and illegal puppy and kitten farms to get out of control when it was in government. Fines were just $1,195 and Labor ignored the animal welfare lobby’s calls to update the out-of-date breeding code.

“The Victorian Coalition Government will continue to work with local councils, the RSPCA and animal welfare groups to stamp out cruelty, and our next priority is to review and tighten the Code of Conduct for pet shops,” Mr Walsh said.

Since 2011 the Victorian Coalition Government has:

  • Introduced the toughest breeding code in Australia: breeders must follow more than 100 prescriptions including breeding limits and mandatory vet checks, and specified requirements for housing, nutrition, socialisation and staffing ratios.

  • Increased fines for aggravated cruelty to up to $72,624 or two years jail for individuals.

  • Dramatically increased fines for not complying with the mandatory breeding code from

    $1,195 up to $36,312 for individuals and $88,566 for incorporated businesses.

  • Introduced court-imposed penalties where people can be banned for up to 10 years from working with or owning animals if convicted of aggravated cruelty, running an unregistered business or non-compliance with the mandatory breeding code.

  • Introduced a ‘fit and proper person’ test for people who want to register a domestic animal breeding business. People who plead guilty to animal cruelty offences cannot run a breeding business for 10 years.

  • Introduced mandatory record keeping for pet shops to ensure animal traceability for all puppies and kittens sold.

  • Introduced the $1.6 million Animal Welfare Fund, which is helping not-for-profit groups to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome abandoned companion animals.

  • Imposed explicit bans on blunt force trauma as a method of euthanasia and the use of wire floor cages at breeding businesses.

  • Revoked the ‘28 day’ rule, meaning shelters are no longer forced to euthanise animals not claimed within 28 days.