1. Home
  2. RSPCA Policy
  3. A - Companion Animals
  4. RSPCA Policy A2 Responsible companion animal ownership

RSPCA Policy A2 Responsible companion animal ownership

Responsible companion animal ownership involves the following general principles:

  • Choosing an appropriate companion animal in consideration of the animal’s physical and mental needs and the owner’s ability to meet these needs, in light of relevant factors such as their family, home, lifestyle, and financial situation.
  • Having good understanding of normal behaviour of the species and type/breed, which allows for a more informed choice and allows owners to continually assess the on-going welfare of their animal.
  • Providing care that is species-specific and facilitates the individual animal experiencing good welfare. This includes ensuring the animal has:
  • Food and water that promotes good health and nutrition and provides positive experiences.
  • A comfortable, safe, and enjoyable environment with appropriate housing, shelter, environmental enrichment, space, and complexity.
  • Appropriate preventative health and wellness care (e.g. vaccinations, parasite control, grooming, exercise) with professional veterinary advice and support as required.
  • Prompt and professional veterinary care for illness or injury when required.
  • Appropriate opportunities to express species‐specific behaviours that are rewarding to the individual, and which include choice, control, and positive challenges. This helps the animal to experience good welfare and avoid negative experiences (e.g. frustration) and the development of abnormal behaviours.
  • Species- and individual- appropriate opportunities for positive interactions with other animals, humans, and the environment (e.g. early introduction of suitable socialisation and reward-based training). This helps to facilitate the animal experiencing good welfare and developing behaviour that is appropriate to their lifestyle as a companion animal.
  • Preventing unwanted/unplanned breeding through surgical desexing or other safe suitable methods (such as appropriate gonad-sparing surgical or non-surgical sterilisation).
  • Ensuring appropriate and reliable identification of the animal.
  • Using safe and appropriate restraint to transport the animal when necessary (see Policy F).
  • Complying with all relevant legal requirements.
  • Being respectful of others and avoiding or minimising the potential for negative impacts on other animals (including wildlife), the community, and the environment.
  • Making provisions for ongoing care when the owner is unable to provide care themselves. This may be temporary (e.g. if the owner is away for work, on holiday, in hospital) or permanent (e.g. finding the animal a new home if the owner is unable to continue caring for them).
  • Recognising when their animal’s quality of life declines and making decisions in consultation with a veterinarian to provide appropriate end-of-life care (e.g. palliative care, euthanasia).
  • Planning to safeguard their animal’s safety and welfare in the event of an emergency (e.g. a natural disaster like a bushfire or flood).

See also:

Policy F – Transportation of Animals
Policy GP1 – Good animal welfare
Position Paper A1 – Control of dangerous and menacing dogs
Position Paper A8 – Cat containment
RSPCA Smart Puppy and Dog Buyer’s Guide
RSPCA Smart Kitten and Cat Buyer’s Guide
RSPCA Australia Guide – Keeping your cat safe and happy at home

(adopted 08/04/2024)

Also Read

Updated on April 24, 2024

RSPCA policies reflect the best available evidence to direct and guide RSPCA and others, to promote and achieve good animal welfare outcomes.

Reference to ‘the RSPCA’ or ‘RSPCA’ in this document means RSPCA Australia and each of the RSPCA Australia member Societies.

  • Home
  • RSPCA Policy
  • A - Companion Animals

Article Attachments

Was this article helpful?