Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 19 February 2015) . . Page.. 566 ..
jurisdictions have sought to regulate where and in what conditions breeding animals are kept, including by using the zoning of land. This option has unfortunately proven to be costly and resource intensive, relying on heavy regulation and compliance activity. Learning from these experiences, the breeding standard that I have proposed will directly target the harm to the victims of unscrupulous intensive breeding operations—that is, in particular, to female dogs and cats and their offspring.
The bill amends the Animal Welfare Act 1992 by inserting new section 15B and new paragraph 21(ea) which will create a new offence of breeding a dog or cat contrary to a breeding standard declared by the minister and create a new offence of breeding a dog or cat contrary to a breeding standard when the breeding is done with the intention of making a profit or commercial gain. The new sections also explicitly provide that the minister may declare a code of practice related to the breeding and selling of cats and dogs with heritable defects.
This legislation presents a significant and necessary expansion of the law regulating animal welfare in the territory. As I have indicated, the proposed amendments provide for a breeding standard declared by the minister. I will make this declaration following advice from the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee as to the exact detail of what should be included in it. I envisage that it will focus on the welfare of female breeding animals.
The bill also inserts an objects clause into the Animal Welfare Act. The objects clause reflects the general purpose of the act and the principles underlying the act. It assists readers to understand the aims of the legislation and can also assist with its interpretation. The new objects clause makes it clear that the objects of the Animal Welfare Act are to promote and protect the welfare, safety and health of animals, to ensure the proper and humane care and management of animals and to reflect the community’s expectation that people who keep or care for animals will ensure that they are properly treated.
The bill that I am presenting today also inserts a new division 3.1 into the Domestic Animals Act 2000 to create a licensing scheme to regulate the breeders of dogs and cats. Importantly, this licensing scheme provides several new offences, including a new strict liability offence of engaging in breeding a dog or cat for profit or commercial gain without holding a breeding licence and providing that breeding licence holders must display their licence number in any advertisements for the sale of puppies and kittens that they have bred.
The purpose of this breeding licensing scheme is to ensure that licensed dog and cat breeders are well aware of their responsibilities for the welfare of their animals when conducting business. Administratively, it is envisaged that breeding licences will be linked to an application for a licence to keep sexually entire female dogs and cats, which is currently required by section 74 of the Domestic Animals Act.
One major benefit of the proposed breeding licence scheme is that it creates a level playing field for legitimate breeders by eliminating unscrupulous breeders from the industry who would seek to profit from animal cruelty. The scheme will give legitimate breeders the benefit of being able to clearly identify themselves to their potential customers through the display of a unique breeding licence number.