Laws relating to the welfare of animals vary in different states. In some states, companion animal breeders have to be registered, which may also require meeting certain standards of care but in other states, breeder registration and/or standards may not exist (see Table below). Specific requirements are often contained within associated Regulations so it is best to check these too. Your local council can give advice on current requirements.
The RSPCA believes that the welfare issues associated with companion animal breeding will only be addressed through proper regulation and enforcement. RSPCA Australia advocates a compulsory registration and licensing system for all outlets selling companion animals, including breeders. The conditions under which animals are bred, kept and presented for sale must be detailed in a code of practice with compliance with the code of practice made a condition of licensing. These requirements would deter and/or help identify and prosecute puppy farm operators.
State governments would be responsible for governing these laws however, as stated above, compulsory standards of care do not yet exist in most states. The RSPCA is powerless to prosecute irresponsible breeders unless they are committing an offence under animal welfare legislation in the state they are operating in. Sadly, this means the situation has to be very serious before any legal action can be taken.
Please see the related article What laws are necessary to stop puppy farming? and the attached documents ‘Legislating to End Puppy Farming – the Way Forward’ and ‘End Puppy farming – The Way Forward’.
If you live in a state/territory which does not have licensing and mandatory standards and you are concerned about this issue, please contact the Minister responsible for animal welfare to request appropriate be taken to safeguard the welfare of companion animals.
|State/Territory||Act||Breeder registration||Breeder welfare standards|
|ACT||Domestic Animals Act 2000||Mandatory registration of all breeders and any owners of an entire dog/cat from three months of age (NB desexing is mandatory by 3 months of age)||Yes
The Australian Capital Territory Animal Welfare (Breeding Standard establishes minimum acceptable practices that must be complied with, failure to comply is an offence under the Act.
|Queensland||Animal Management (Cats and Dogs) Act 2008||Dogs only|
Mandatory registration of all breeders (even someone with one female breeding dog)
Breeder society registration accepted
Government supplies breeder identification number (BIN)
The Queensland Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for the Breeding of Dogs and their Progeny (Oct 2018) establish minimum acceptable practices that must be complied with, failure to comply will be investigated and penalties may apply.
|New South Wales||Companion Animals Act 1998||Nil||Yes
Animal Welfare Code of Practice Breeding dogs and cats sets out standards that have legal effect in three ways:
|South Australia||Dog & Cat Management Act 1995||Mandatory registration of all breeders and any owners of an entire dog/cat from six months of age (NB desexing is mandatory by six months of age)|
Government supplies breeder registration number (BRN)
The South Australian Standards and Guidelines for Breeding and Trading Companion Animals 2017 set out standards that have legal effect in two ways:
|Tasmania||Cat Management Act 2009|
Dog Control Act 2000
The Animal Welfare (Dogs) Regulations 2016 establish minimum acceptable practices that must be complied with, failure to comply will be investigated and penalties may apply.
|Victoria||Domestic Animal Act 1994|
Domestic Animals Amendment (Puppy Farms and Pet Shops) Act 2017
But only if there are at least three breeding females & are exempt if registered with a breed organisation except if there are >10 breeding females
The Code of Practice for the Operation of Breeding and Rearing Businesses and the Code of Practice for the Breeding of Animals with Heritable Defects that Cause Disease both establish minimum acceptable practices that must be complied with, failure to comply will be investigated and penalties may apply.
|Western Australia||Dog Act 1976|
Cat Act 2011
|Nil (however, note that draft Standards and Guidelines for the Health and Welfare of Dogs in WA (Dog Standards and Guidelines) are being developed (June 2019)
The information presented here is not intended to be relied on for legal advice and you should seek advice from the relevant authority and/or a lawyer about your individual circumstances.