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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 13 May 2021) . . Page.. 1445 ..

We all recognise the need for correct contact details. Some of us may recall the case of poor little Izzy, an old, blind dog wearing a coat, that wandered out of its owner’s house in 2018 and was picked up and, very sadly for everyone concerned, was put down within 24 hours of being taken to Domestic Animal Services. It was a very sad case. The owner of the dog was devastated. There was a difficulty in contacting the owner because of incorrect details on the microchip, so in that regard it is important that we do up-to-date details. But I wonder whether the government would be able to get those details in some other way—the government generally knows where people are living—rather than introducing yet another system for the registration of dogs.

In the interests of dog owners I understand the potential benefits of having up-to-date information, given that it is being introduced without additional cost to the resident in registering their dog.

MS CLAY (Ginninderra) (11.34): I am the Greens spokesperson on animal welfare and I am pleased to speak in support of this legislation. Anyone who keeps pets knows how much they become beloved family members. They bring joy to our lives on a daily basis. They help our kids learn empathy and responsibility, and they do so much more. I have a staffie and a kelpie, and I cannot imagine life without them.

Our pets are often working partners and vital companions too. They do everything, from sounding the alert if someone is about to have a seizure to providing emotional support for an elderly person living alone. They do so much for us, and we need to recognise that by creating the right mechanisms for responsible pet ownership.

This proposed amendment is an important step towards that goal. It allows lost dogs to be returned to their owners and it makes it much easier to identify unclaimed dogs. It starts the process of finding them a home, too, and it helps us identify dangerous dogs and animal cruelty offenders. I am glad to note that the new system will not create any additional cost for owners and will require just a few clicks once a year in response to an email, SMS or letter.

The amendment also paves the way for similar legislation for cats. That is really good news because it will help our ongoing efforts to protect our cats from being hit by cars or being otherwise injured. It will also help save our native birds and wildlife from feline hunting.

I recently visited Michelle Robertson and her marvellous team at the RSPCA in Weston. When I see the number of dogs and cats and other animals in need of a home, it is clear to me that we can do more to track and care for Canberra’s pets. This bill has set up the simplest means for annual registration, and I think that it is well and truly time. When we take on a role that affects others, like driving a car or taking care of an animal, we should carry it out responsibly. A simple annual renewal is appropriate, particularly when it is a cost-free one.

This bill is a really good balance between tracking our pets and making sure that we are not creating needless administration. I welcome feedback to my office about how

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