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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 24 March 2015) . . Page.. 1057 ..

Firstly, the bill allows the minister to declare a breeding standard. This standard will ensure that the health of a female cat and dog is maintained when they breed. It may specify, for example, at what age a dog can first start mating, at what age a cat or dog must be retired from breeding, or even the maximum number of litters a cat may have in a 12-month period. It is these standards which will maintain the welfare of cats and dogs as they are bred. I encourage the minister to develop and publish these standards as soon as possible after consultation with the industry so that all people, including stakeholders, know exactly where they stand. Importantly, sufficient penalties are in place for any person who recklessly or intentionally breaches the relevant breeding standard.

Secondly, the bill creates a licensing scheme for cat and dog breeders in the territory. Cat and dog breeders will now have to be licensed in order to breed in the territory. Again this will improve the welfare of breeding cats and dogs in the territory if it is policed appropriately. Perhaps more importantly, licensed breeders can now hold themselves up as such—as licensed. The community can have confidence when they purchase a cat or dog from a licensed breeder that the breeder is having regard to the welfare of the cat or dog’s mother, if indeed the regulations and legislation are enforced appropriately.

As with the breeding standard provisions, sufficient penalties apply to people who breed without a licence, and to breeders who advertise cats and dogs without including their licence number on the advertisement.

Finally, the bill also enables the minister to establish a code of practice surrounding the breeding and selling of cats and dogs with heritable defects. This will put animal welfare considerations at the forefront before any breeding occurs.

This bill will be supported by the opposition. It will provide better protection for cats and dogs while they breed but will allow legitimate breeders and animal welfare concerned breeders to continue about their work as breeders.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Justice, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Transport Reform) (4.12), in reply: I thank members for their support of this important bill today. When considering this bill, and indeed the other animal welfare amendments that I have introduced into the Assembly, I am reminded of a quote widely attributed to Mahatma Gandhi: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Today members have the opportunity to legislate for the better treatment of dogs and cats in the ACT by banning puppy and kitten farming in the territory.

The offences and licensing scheme proposed by the bill target the intensive breeding of female dogs and cats in an attempt to protect both their health and welfare and that of their offspring. The bill thus seeks to avoid the serious animal welfare issues that we have seen in other states with intensive pet breeding operations that place the operator’s profit above their animals’ health or welfare.

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