Update – Dog and Cat Management (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill
Three amendments were made:
- The title of ‘Working Livestock Dog’ (section 4). Previously, the Legislative Council had amended the Bill to include a definition of working livestock dog in the Bill, rather than leave this to the Regulations. This definition was labelled ‘Working Dogs’. The Government thought that this label could be misleading, because there are lots of different types of working dogs (eg guard dogs, patrol dogs, police dogs), not just ones involved with livestock. In the House last week, the Government agreed to keep the definition supported in the Leg Co, but voted to change the title of the definition. This change is for clarity only and does not in any way change the substance of the definition. I am aware that some prefer the title ‘Livestock Working Dog’. I’m afraid there wasn’t a lot of support for that variation.
- Broadening a court’s powers to make orders (section 47). Previously, the major offences in the Act were set out in one part of the Act (sections 43 – 45D) and, if a matter went to court, the judge or magistrate had a range of powers, other than setting a monetary penalty. This could include placing a restriction on a person from having more than a certain number of animals or an order for destruction of an animal. The Bill creates a number of new offences and these are set out, throughout the Bill. There will occasionally be circumstances where a person breaches these new provisions and it would be appropriate for the judge to impose a penalty or restriction that is more than just a monetary fine.
Example: A person is selling dogs as pets that have not been microchipped or desexed. The dogs have numerous health issues that are not disclosed to the purchaser. He does not provide the Breeder Registration Number or vaccination history. He has been prosecuted on previous occasions for a number of similar offences. In this case, the council officer may wish to ask the judge to impose a prohibition on the person from owning more than a given number of dogs, or prohibited from selling dogs, without obtaining a further order from the court.
- Definition of desexing (section 4). In the original Bill, presented by Government to Parliament, the definition of desexing was “to castrate or, spay, so as to permanently render the animal incapable of reproducing”. This definition was aimed at (i) reducing unwanted litters and (ii) reducing the incidence of hormone-driven behaviour, such as inclination to wander and dog attacks. In the Leg Co, the Greens moved an amended definition of desexing, which impacted upon fertility but not hormone-driven behaviour. In the House, last week, the Government amended the Bill again, to reinstate the original definition.
A Bill does not become law until both the House and the Leg Co agree to the same version of the Bill. As three amendments were moved in the House, the Bill now goes back to the Leg Co this week, who will be asked to consider the three amendments.
All of the substantive provisions (eg mandatory desexing, mandatory microchipping, breeder registration) remain in the Bill.
Note that once the whole Bill is passed, none of the provisions will take effect until a date set by the Government. It is my intention to circulate a draft commencement date, for each provision, before this decision is made. As always, I would appreciate your feedback on this, to ensure that all affected parties have the time they need to adjust for the new laws.