You are on page 1of 9

Dog and Cat Management (Miscellaneous

)
Amendment Bill 2015 and Code of Practice for the
Welfare of Dogs and Cats in Breeding Facilities

26 June 2015

The Animal Law Institute is a not for profit community legal centre
that is dedicated to protecting animals and advocating for their
interests through the Australian legal system.

26 June 2015

Dog and Cat Reforms
Conservation and Land Management Branch
Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources
GPO Box 1047
ADELAIDE 500
By email: dogandcatreforms@sa.gov.au

SUBMISSION IN RELATION TO THE DOG AND CAT MANAGEMENT (MISCELLANEOUS) AMENDMENT
BILL 2015 (SA) AND THE CODE OF PRACTICE FOR THE WELFARE OF DOGS AND CATS IN BREEDING
FACILITIES

INTRODUCTION
1. The Animal Law Institute (ALI) welcomes the opportunity to make this submission in relation to
the Dog and Cat Management (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2015 (Bill) and the Code of
Practice for the Welfare of Dogs and Cats in Breeding Facilities (Code).
2. ALI is a not for profit community legal centre that is dedicated to protecting animals and
advocating for their interests through the Australian legal system.
3. At the outset, ALI wishes to state that it does not support the commercial breeding of dogs, cats
or any other companion animals. This is on the basis that there are an overwhelming number of
healthy dogs, cats and other animals in Australian shelters and pounds that could be rehomed,
including the approximate 300,000 cats and dogs which are euthanised each year. In this
environment where a shameful number of animals are unnecessary killed simply because of
oversupply, ALI considers it is unacceptable to continue breeding dogs, cats and other animals
for profit. However, ALI recognises that aside from a complete ban on the commercial breeding
of cats, dogs and other companion animals, the welfare situation for these animals will not
improve without significant amendments to the current legislative framework governing the
breeding of companion animals.
4. For these reasons, ALI supports the South Australian Government's continued efforts to increase
the regulation of the companion animal breeding industry, and improve the minimum welfare
standards for the dogs and cats caught by the industry. ALI recognises that the proposed
amendments to the breeding registration requirements in the Dog and Cat Management Act

1

1995 (SA) (DCM Act) and the introduction of the mandatory standards contained in the Code are
positive steps towards furthering this objective. ALI also commends the South Australian
Parliamentary Counsel for preparing the Bill and the Code in consultation with key stakeholders
and adopting a number of worthy recommendations made by the Select Committee on Dogs
and Cats as Companion Animals in its report dated July 2013.
5. However, after reviewing the Bill and the Code, ALI suggests that the objectives to improve the
management, welfare and protection of companion animals can be better achieved by adopting
the recommendations made in this submission.

BILL
Power to protect persons or property
6. The Bill proposes to delete Part 5 of Division 2 of the Act and replace it with section 59D (as
stipulated by sections 36 and 49 of the Bill). ALI understands that section 59D(1) of the Bill
prescribes similar circumstances in which a person can lawfully destroy or injure a dog which are
currently contained in section 48 of the Act. ALI also understands that section 59D(2) of the Bill
has been introduced to prescribe the circumstances in which a person can lawfully destroy or
injure a cat.
7. ALI considers that certain powers granted to a person to lawfully injure or destroy a dog or cat
under section 59D of the Bill should be amended. While ALI does not condone killing or injuring
a healthy dog or cat, it appreciates why the Bill includes exemptions for people acting in their
capacity a warden, authorised officer, inspector or vet in the circumstances prescribed in section
59D. However, ALI considers it inappropriate for the Act to permit an ordinary person to injure
or kill an animal merely because that animal is roaming at large.
8. ALI recognises that in certain circumstances, a dog can threaten the life of both a person and
other animals, and as such, it is reasonable to exempt a person from liability for harming a dog
when acting in self-defence. However, ALI considers it inappropriate for an ordinary person to be
exempt from liability when injuring or killing any animal merely to protect his or her lifeless
property.
9. Accordingly, ALI suggests that the Bill be amended as follows:
a. section 59D(1)(a) of the Bill be amended to remove the words “or property” and replace
them with "or animals"; and
b. sections 59D(1)(b), 59D(2)(a), 59D(2)(c) and 59D(2)(d) be repealed in their entirety.

2

Registration of cats
10. ALI notes that the Bill proposes to make a number of amendments to the Act so that it extends
the operation of the Act to the management of cats. However, the Bill does not propose to
introduce a requirement for cats to be registered under the Act. As outlined in the FAQs which
were released alongside the Bill, the registration requirements for cats will continue to be
managed by local councils. For the purpose of consistency across the state, ALI considers it
appropriate for the Act to prescribe the registration requirements of cats.

Registration of breeders
11. ALI supports the proposal to introduce a compulsory breeder registration scheme in South
Australia, coupled with the obligation to microchip companion animals prior to sale. ALI
recognises that it is a key step in promoting greater transparency about who is engaged in
breeding dogs and cats for sale, and in turn, holding them accountable for protecting the welfare
of the animals in their care.
12. ALI suggests that as part of the registration process, steps are taken to ensure that the applicant
breeder is equipped to comply with the Animal Welfare Act 1985 (SA) (Welfare Act), Animal
Welfare Regulations 2012 (SA) (Welfare Regulations) and the Code. It would be prudent for the
Board, working in collaboration with inspectors, to carry out onsite inspections before a person
is registered as a breeder. Accordingly, ALI recommends that the Board should require a person
to satisfy pre-inspection requirements before he or she is registered as a breeder, and that these
requirements should be codified in the DCM Act.
13. ALI also notes that the registration scheme will only prove to be effective in promoting
transparency and accountability in the breeding industry if there are appropriate monitoring and
enforcement mechanisms in place to ensure that breeders comply with the Welfare Act, Welfare
Regulations and the Code, which is discussed in more detail below.

CODE
14. ALI supports the proposal to introduce a breeding code, which will be referenced in Schedule 2
of the Welfare Regulations and in turn, be enforceable by inspectors in accordance with the
Welfare Act.
15. ALI recognises that the adoption of an enforceable breeding code which prescribes minimum
standards will play a key role in improving the everyday welfare of animals in the companion
animal breeding industry. However, ALI respectfully submits that the Code, in its current form, is

3

insufficient to adequately meet the objective of ensuring that “the dogs and cats we introduce
into our family homes come from healthy and humane conditions.” Accordingly, ALI urges the
South Australian Parliamentary Counsel to amend the Code, taking into account the following
recommendations.

Precedent Code
16. The introduction to the Code outlines that it was developed using the New South Wales Animal
Welfare Code of Practice – Breeding Dogs and Cats as the base document (New South Wales
Code), and that aspects of Victorian Code of Practice for the Operation of Breeding and Rearing
Businesses 2014 (Victorian Code) have also been incorporated. ALI submits that while the
Victorian Code has its limitations, it is more appropriate for the Victorian Code to be used as the
key precedent document in South Australia.
17. The Victorian Code is the most up to date breeder code currently adopted in an Australian state
or territory. It was adopted in 2014 after extensive public consultation and numerous revisions.
Given how recently the Victorian Code was reviewed, it better aligns with current industry and
community expectations of the minimum welfare standards that breeders must adhere to.
18. The Victorian Code deals more comprehensively with issues relating to the accommodation,
management, and breeding and behavioural needs of dogs and cats in the care of breeders than
the New South Wales Code. Also, the Victorian Code includes clear, measurable requirements
that must be met in order to satisfy the mandatory standards. In contrast, a number of the
mandatory standards in the Code are broad and vague. In many circumstances, it is not clear
what practical steps must be taken in order to sufficiently satisfy the minimum mandatory
standards. As such, ALI submits that the adoption of these “motherhood” obligations should be
further refined and clarified to ensure that the Code is complied with and enforced consistently.
19. Also, the Parliament of New South Wales launched an inquiry into companion animal breeding
practices in NSW on 14 May 2015. A joint select committee has been appointed to, among other
things, investigate the New South Wales companion animal breeding industry in comparison to
other jurisdictions and review the legislative framework. As the New South Wales Code is so
outdated and has many limitations, ALI envisages that as part of the inquiry, recommendations
will be made to revise the New South Wales Code. Accordingly, ALI respectfully submits that the
New South Code is not an appropriate precedent document for the South Australian breeder
code.

4

20. If the Code is to be adopted by relying on the New South Wales Code as the base document, ALI
recommends that, as a minimum, the following amendments be incorporated into the Code.

Responsibilities and competencies of staff
21. ALI recommends that the guidelines listed at paragraph 3.2 be elevated to mandatory standards,
as ALI considers that these requirements are essential to ensuring that breeding facilities are
equipped with appropriately qualified, and a sufficient level of, staff. ALI also recommends that
these requirements be amended as follows.
a. Paragraph 3.2.2 should require, as a minimum, a 15:1 staff to animal ratio, which must
be maintained seven days a week.
b. The term “large” be removed from paragraph 3.2.3, as every facility should have at least
one staff member on overnight duty as a minimum. ALI submits that it would be
irresponsible for the Code to allow animals to be left unattended overnight.

Animal housing
22. ALI submits that paragraph 5.1.1.1 should be amended to clarify that it is inappropriate for
vehicles, caravans, portable crates and the crawl space under any dwelling to ever be used as a
form of housing an animal - either temporarily or permanently.
23. ALI queries why the Code does not include a maximum number of animals that can be held on
any one premises. ALI suggests that the Code incorporate a maximum number of animals that
may be held on each facility at any given time, as it would go some way in managing the
oversupply of companion animals and in turn, reduce the euthanasia rates of otherwise healthy
animals. ALI suggests the Code prohibit any more than 10 breeding cats and dogs to be held at
each breeding facility at any given time.

Animal management
24. ALI recommends that the Code be amended to adequately provide animals with daily exercise in
safe, secure environments, away from where the dog or cat is ordinarily housed.
25. Accordingly, ALI submits that paragraph 6.1.1.7 ensure that adult animals can exercise for a
minimum of 60 minutes daily, unless otherwise prescribed by a vet.
26. ALI recommends that new mandatory standards be included which requires the following.

5

a. A pregnant animal must to be given a minimum of 20 minutes of gentle exercise twice
daily, unless otherwise prescribed by a vet. ALI also recommends that the animal be
exercised in an area containing natural surfaces.
b. Puppies above 8 weeks of age must be exercised for a minimum of 20 minutes daily,
unless otherwise prescribed by a vet. ALI also recommends that puppies be exercised
within a secure area outside of the primary housing enclosure and have sufficient space
to run and play.
c. If an animal is housed continuously indoors, at least one full exercise session per day
must be outside (weather permitting).
27. ALI recommends that the Code include mandatory standards to give each animal the daily
opportunity to socialise with humans and other animals. Accordingly, ALI submits that paragraph
6.1.2.5 be amended so that it is elevated to a mandatory standard.

Animal health
28. ALI recommends that mandatory standards be introduced into the Code which require
compulsory pre-mating and post-birthing veterinary checks of every animal, as well as the
requirement to submit veterinary certificates following these checks to the appropriate
authority. ALI recommends that the Code prohibits an animal from being bred if a vet does not
deem that animal suitable for breeding.
29. Consistent with the RSPCA’s recommendations, ALI suggests that the Code include a mandatory
obligation on a breeder to develop an appropriate individual breeding management program in
consultation with a vet.
30. ALI considers it inappropriate for the Code to contemplate that healthy animals can be
euthanised by breeders. Accordingly, ALI recommends that paragraph 7.3.2.1 be elevated to a
mandatory standard, and be amended to oblige breeders to sell healthy animals in accordance
with minimum retirement and re-housing standards, and otherwise bear the costs of housing
these retired animals in an appropriate setting until successfully rehomed. ALI suggests that the
Code adopt the retirement and re-homing policy standards articulated in the RSPCA Australia’s
report titled ‘Legislating to End Puppy Farming – the Way Forward’ (RSPCA Report), which would
require:
a. retired breeding animals to be de-sexed if determined by a vet; and
b. retired, unsold or returned animals to be provided with a high standard of permanent
care, either at the breeder facility or in the home of another appropriate carer.

6

Breeding and rearing
31. ALI agrees that an animal should not be bred during its first oestrous cycle. However, ALI
recognises that the oestrous cycle varies from animal to animal - with some animals
experiencing this as early as four months. On this basis, we recommend that paragraph 9.1.1.1
be amended so that breeding animals must not be intentionally mated before 12 months of age,
provided they have had their first oestrous cycle.
32. ALI recommends that the Code include a mandatory standard which limits the number of litters
female dogs and cats can have in their lifetimes. As breeding places undue stress on an animal’s
body, ALI recommends that the Code include a limitation on female dogs and cats having more
than 3 litters in their lifetimes.
33. ALI recommends that once these maximums are met, animals should be retired and rehomed in
accordance with the recommended retirement and re-housing standards outlined above.

Defences
34. The Code includes general defences, which exempts a breeder from complying with the Code if
he or she can establish that his or her failure to comply was:
a. the result of acting on advice from a registered vet;
b. in the welfare interests of the animal;
c. in the interests of other animals in the facility; or
d. necessary for occupational health and safety reasons.
35. In accordance with the RSCPA’s recommendations, ALI submits that the Code apply without
exemption. In the alternative, ALI submits that the general defences replicated at paragraphs b –
d of this submission be deleted. These are all relevant mitigating factors that a judge or other
decision maker may take into consideration when determining what, if any, penalty is
appropriate for the breach.

MONITORING AND ENFORCEMENT
36. ALI believes that the success of the Code will largely depend on whether policing and
enforcement of the proposed Code is carried out. In the RSPCA Report, the RSPCA makes a
number of worthy recommendations on how to improve the monitoring and enforcement of the
companion animal breeding industry, and ensure compliance with the Welfare Act, Welfare
Regulations and the breeder code. ALI supports the RSPCA’s recommendations.

7

37. In particular, ALI supports the RSPCA’s suggestion to introduce a targeted inspections regime,
which gives inspectors the powers to attend and enter facilities without prior notice.
38. At first instance, ALI suggests that a blanket condition be attached to every breeder’s
registration, which grants inspectors the power to make routine, yet unannounced, inspections
of the breeder’s premises twice per year. ALI also recommends that the South Australian
Government consider incorporating granting this power to all inspectors, as it is a key tool in
monitoring compliance with the South Australian animal welfare framework.

CONCLUSION
39. ALI broadly supports the proposal to pass the Bill so as to amend the DCM Act, and also supports
the proposal to adopt a breeder code to incorporate enforceable mandatory standards in the
companion animal breeding industry. In ALI’s view, the Bill and the Code are positive steps
towards improving the management and protection of animals in this industry. However, ALI
respectfully submits that the matters raised in this submission should be considered when
revising the Bill and Code.
40. ALI would be happy to assist with the development of the Bill and the Code. Should you require
any further assistance or clarification regarding our comments, please contact The Animal Law
Institute at policy@ali.org.au.

Yours sincerely

The Animal Law Institute Inc.

8