Page 129 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 15 February 2012

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Wednesday, 15 February 2012

MR SPEAKER (Mr Rattenbury) took the chair at 10 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Animal Welfare Legislation Amendment Bill 2012

Ms Le Couteur, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MS LE COUTEUR (Molonglo) (10.02): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Today I present the Assembly with a bill to address animal welfare issues for companion animals here in the ACT. Although the bill I am tabling today is largely the same bill that was debated and unfortunately defeated in 2011, I believe that there is good reason to debate this issue again.

The problems that the bill addresses are simply not going away and they are simply not improving. According to their 2010-11 annual report, the RSPCA cared for 1,747 dogs and 2,842 cats; of these, 105 dogs and 825 cats were euthanased. Domestic Animal Services also care for lost dogs and they found homes for 92.6 per cent of the 1,397 suitable dogs that were presented to them. DAS euthanased 210 dogs in 2010-11. This makes 1,140 domestic animals—dogs and cats—euthanased in just one year. In addition, the number of animals euthanased by pet stores is unknown, as pet stores are not required to report this.

So each year we have a total of 5,986, nearly 6,000—or 16½ dogs and cats a day, and that is every day; I am not taking days out for weekends—which are being presented to DAS and the RSPCA. Some of these are lost and are quickly reunited with their owners. Thankfully, due to the hard work of the RSPCA, DAS and the hundreds of volunteers, most of them are rehomed. But over a thousand domestic dogs and cats are killed in the ACT each year. This is a tragedy and it is one that my bill seeks to address.

This is a bill that will improve the lives of animals in the ACT, in particular companion animals such as dogs and cats. When we debated this bill in May last year the government agreed “that there is benefit in reviewing the current arrangements for the breeding and the sale of dogs and cats within the ACT”. Unfortunately, the government have not reviewed the arrangements. Neither party offered arguments or amendments as to what should happen. They just voted the bill down. The government stated they could not agree to anything because they had asked the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee to look at the subject and that they would like to introduce a code of practice. This request was apparently made two years ago and there is still no public result of the request. Nor is there any result on a promised

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