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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 June 2010) . . Page.. 2330 ..

Introducing such a system would be a clear message to prospective owners of companion animals. Pet ownership is a privilege that comes with a responsibility—a responsibility to care for the wellbeing of your pet. As I said in March when I stood in this place to speak on the importance of responsible domestic animal ownership in the ACT, I believe there is further work to be done to encourage improved responsible pet ownership.

Point-of-sale pet registration is a deceptively small way in which a greater sense of responsibility would be encouraged. The provision of schedules at point of sale for desexing and vaccination schedules—by which appointments can be made, reminders sent and further follow-up made—might also play a part. In my opinion, basic obligations such as registration, desexing, microchipping and vaccination represent the most basic level of commitment of an owner to their pet.

An enforceable code that ensures that only cats and dogs owned by individuals or organisations with breeders licences will be able to be kept entire seems critical for the number of companion animals available on the market in the ACT and the circumstances under which they are sold. Given the extent of the problem, I cannot see any justification for allowing those breeders without a breeders licence to keep entire companion animals.

The RSPCA has data that indicates that mandatory desexing legislation in the ACT has had a limited effect on the number of unwanted cats it receives. Further measures to ensure compliance here may help to address this anomaly. As cats can become pregnant by four months of age, I would suggest that the mandatory code should compel an owner to desex their cat quite soon after its purchase and that a desexing appointment should be booked at the point of sale. Point-of-sale payment for the procedure, possibly included in the sale price of the animal, should be considered as a measure to remove subsequent financial disincentives for compliance.

I note that the recently recommended code of practice for the sale of animals in the ACT not from saleyards advises that dogs and cats must be vaccinated prior to sale. For instance, cats must be vaccinated prior to sale for feline infections, enteritis and feline respiratory disease. However, worming and other vaccinations further into the animal’s life are also important in maintaining a companion animal in good health.

Another concern I have is that if a cat is unable to be identified this means that a lost cat cannot be returned home. According to a recent report from Animals Australia, only five per cent of cats, compared with 70 per cent of dogs, are reclaimed from shelters. From a cat management point of view, microchipping is a fundamental tool. Microchips are permanent and are unable to be altered; allowing shelters to return cats to their owners also facilitates regulation of desexing schedules. It is very distressing for people when they lose an animal; this is a very good way of preventing that loss from being played out, with people never seeing that animal again. This is fundamental to what we are trying to achieve here.

If regulations depend on a system of information sharing between vendors, veterinary practitioners and the authority responsible for compliance, this system will depend on effective registration of the companion animals. I have used this opportunity today to

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