Page 872 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 6 April 2022

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The AWAC has recommended that TNR should be banned in the ACT, in line with every jurisdiction in Australia.

Desexing of cats is vital in reducing the number of semi-owned and unowned cats. The Cat Plan emphasises the importance of animal welfare agencies and others undertaking desexing as part of a trap, neuter and adopt approach. The government will work with vets, breeders associations and community organisations to increase access to affordable desexing, increase uptake of microchipping, and prepubescent desexing prior to sale, and support cat owners and breeders in meeting the requirements for prepubescent desexing.

I understand that recent discussions with animal welfare partners have indicated that approximately 90 per cent of street cats can be desexed and rehomed, as per the comments by Minister Vassarotti. This is a great outcome, if we can achieve it, in giving these animals a healthier and safer life, and more Canberrans a furry companion to share their homes with as well.

The ACT government currently operate an adoption program for stray and abandoned dogs, with a 98 per cent success rate for the rehoming of dogs in their care. There are also opportunities for Domestic Animal Services to support the increased adoption of street cats under this newer policy approach—of course, working with our partners like the RSPCA and other organisations that work with cats.

As part of implementing this legislation, once the bill is passed, the ACT government will assist animal welfare organisations, which may be operating under different models, to transition to a trap, neuter and adopt approach. We want to see more street cats find good homes with responsible owners, so we will use the next few months and years ahead of the commencement of cat containment from 1 July 2022 to work with animal welfare organisations to get the right structures and processes in place to achieve this.

We will also, of course, look with interest at the number of semi-owned and unowned cats that are on our streets, as this legislation is introduced in the months and years ahead, to get a handle on the impact of the legislation and what further measures we may need to look at.

Pets of all shapes and sizes add so much richness to the lives of Canberrans, and that goes for cats as well. This bill will help to promote the wellbeing and responsible management of Canberra’s cats, in line with our successful approach in managing pet dogs. Through the reforms contained in the bill and the broader ACT Cat Plan, our hope is that pet cats will not need nine lives; they will just need one, and hopefully it will be a long, happy and safe life.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

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