←Go back to RSPCA

RSPCA Australia knowledgebase

RSPCA Australia Knowledgebase

Search:     Advanced search

Is eating cats or dogs legal?

Article ID: 489
Last updated: 17 Oct, 2012
Add comment
Views: 24590
Comments: 0

RSPCA Australia is opposed to the use of dogs and cats for fur or food as these animals have a specific place in Australian society as companion animals and close working partners of humans.

In most states and territories it is not an offence to eat cats and dogs. South Australia is the only state which definitively prohibits the consumption of meat derived from a cat or dog, including the killing of a cat or dog for such purpose (see below table).

The sale of cat and dog meat however, is prohibited in all states and territories under the various statutes which govern the production of meat. While these laws do not expressly state that selling cat and dog meat is an offence, the effect of the regulatory regimes they create serves to achieve this end. A person or business that processes meat intended for sale and human consumption must be registered or licensed under the relevant state or territory meat production legislation. A condition of this registration or licence is that the particular meat processing complies with a Regulation or an adopted Standard or Code.

Under current meat processing Standards and Codes, cat and dog meat cannot be sold as it does not derive from what is defined as a “consumable” or “abattoir” animal. “Consumable” or “abattoir” animals are generally defined to include cattle, sheep, goats, camel, deer, buffalo, pigs, and rabbits. Separate categories exist for poultry, and wild animals such as kangaroos and crocodiles. Accordingly, a state or territory food safety authority would not grant registration or licence to a person or business seeking to process cat or dog meat for sale.

So while the sale of meat derived from a cat or dog is prohibited, technically, the home production and consumption of such meat is not (with the exception of South Australia). The method and manner in which an animal is killed under such circumstances would however be subject to the provisions of state and territory animal welfare legislation. If such killing caused the animal unnecessary pain or caused the animal not to die instantly, it would be likely to constitute an offence under the general cruelty provisions of such legislation. It is also arguable that the act of killing a cat or dog for the purpose of consumption (regardless of how instant or ‘humane’ the killing was) may constitute animal cruelty or ill-treatment under the legislation due to the unnecessary nature of the activity. This however would be a legal argument for the courts to decide.

RSPCA Australia believes the consumption of cat and dog meat should be expressly prohibited in statute. Cats and dogs hold a specific place in Australian society as companion animals. Eating cats and dogs is therefore offensive to mainstream Australian cultural values. RSPCA Australia believes that state governments should follow the lead of South Australia and create specific offences for eating cats and dogs, either within their animal welfare legislation, or within their general criminal legislation.

Is eating cats or dogs legal?
State

Yes/No
name of relevant act/special conditions and requirements
ACT
Yes
No law specifically authorises or prohibits the eating of cats or dogs. However, the killing of cats or dogs for such purpose may constitute an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 1992. Processing and selling cat or dog meat is prohibited under the Food Act 2001. Contact Health Protection Service, ACT Health at http://www.health.act.gov.au/health-services/public-health/health-protection-service/ for further information.
NSW
Yes
No law specifically authorises or prohibits the eating of cats or dogs. However, the killing of cats or dogs for such purpose may constitute an offence under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979. Processing and selling cat or dog meat is prohibited under Food Act 2003. Contact the NSW Food Authority at http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/ for further information.
NT
Yes
No law specifically authorises or prohibits the eating of cats or dogs. However, the killing of cats or dogs for such purpose may constitute offence under Animal Welfare Act 2007. Processing and selling cat or dog meat is prohibited under Food Act 2004. Contact the Environmental Health, Department of Health, NT at http://www.health.nt.gov.au/Environmental_Health/index.aspx for further information.
QLD
Yes
No law specifically authorises or prohibits the eating of cats or dogs. However, the killing of cats or dogs for such purpose may constitute an offence under Animal Care and Protection Act 2001. Processing and selling cat or dog meat is prohibited under Food Production (Safety) Act 2000. Contact Safe Food Qld at http://www.safefood.qld.gov.au/ for further information.
SA
No
Section 10, Summary Offences Act 1953. Also prohibits the killing of cats or dogs for the purpose of consumption, and the supply of cat or dog meat.
TAS
Yes
No law specifically authorises or prohibits the eating of cats or dogs. However, the killing of cats or dogs for such purpose may constitute an offence under Animal Welfare Act 1993. Processing and selling cat or dog meat is prohibited under Meat Hygiene Act 1985. Contact Public and Environmental Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Tasmania at http://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/peh/food_safety for further information.
VIC

Yes
No law specifically authorises or prohibits the eating of cats or dogs. However, the killing of cats or dogs for such purpose may constitute an offence under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986. Processing and selling cat or dog meat is prohibited under Meat Industry Act 1993. Contact Food Safety, Department of Health, Victoria at http://www.health.vic.gov.au/foodsafety/contacts.htm for further information.
WA

Yes
No law specifically authorises or prohibits the eating of cats or dogs. However, the killing of cats or dogs for such purpose may constitute an offence under Animal Welfare Act 2002. Processing and selling cat or dog meat is prohibited under Food Act 2008. Contact the Food Unit, Environmental Health, Department of Health, WA at http://www.public.health.wa.gov.au/2/754/2/contact_us.pm for further information.

 


This website provides general information which must not be relied upon or regarded as a substitute for specific professional advice, including veterinary advice. We make no warranties that the website is accurate or suitable for a person’s unique circumstances and provide the website on the basis that all persons accessing the website responsibly assess the relevance and accuracy of its content.
Add comment
Prev   Next
I'm looking for a pet kitten or cat - what should I do?     What are the common health problems in pet guinea pigs?