Page 927 - Week 03 - Thursday, 22 March 2018

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This bill tightens up penalties and offences in the act, following the work done last year on dangerous dogs. It will allow for fines to be issued in a greater range of circumstances to people who clearly breach the law and are acting irresponsibly or unsafely in respect of their dogs—for example, by breaching a condition of a dog control order.

The bill also introduces a definition of breeding into the Domestic Animals Act which captures the whole process of breeding dogs from insemination to the weaning of pups. This will mean that there are no loopholes in the law and illegal breeding and puppy farming can be targeted and stamped out, regardless of where puppies are actually birthed. For example, a person can no longer take a dog into New South Wales to give birth and bring those puppies back into the ACT to wean and sell without a breeding permit.

The bill will allow for carers of dogs, as well as keepers of dogs, to have dog control orders and restrictions placed on them. There are cases where it is more appropriate that a carer look after a dog for a period—for example, where a dog harasses a neighbour’s chickens but can be housed with a carer who has a fenced yard while the keeper finds alternative housing—rather than having that dog being placed in the pound. It also recognises that carers have a responsibility when they are looking after someone’s dog.

Importantly, this bill also allows for dogs to be impounded in animal rescue facilities and not just the pound. For example, if newly born puppies are seized as a result of action to stamp out puppy farming the puppies can be placed in an animal rescue facility that is more suitable and humane and leads to better animal welfare outcomes, rather than the pound. This will support the government taking action to stamp out puppy farming, among a range of other offences, and also uphold the highest animal welfare standards.

As I have said on many occasions before, it is important to regularly review animal management and welfare laws in the ACT to ensure that they are up to date and relevant. This is also a key commitment in the recently released ACT animal welfare and management strategy. This bill ensures that the ACT has contemporary, up-to-date and best practice laws for managing all dogs, including racing greyhounds. It makes minor changes to the existing Domestic Animals Act to give effect to the intent of the legislative amendments passed by the Assembly last year for dangerous dogs and to end greyhound racing. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Ms Lawder) adjourned to the next sitting.

Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2018

Mr Ramsay, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

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