Daily Mercury, 5th Dec 2009
Under the legislation, they would have to regularly exercise dogs, ensure animals are not kept chained up and give their pets adequate food and water, News Ltd newspapers say.
If the proposal became law, dog and cat owners across Australia would face prosecution and fines of up to $12,000 for animal cruelty, and magistrates could consider jail in extreme circumstances.
Dr Hugh Wirth, head of RSPCA Victoria, is one of four experts the Federal Department of Agriculture’s welfare division has appointed to draft national animal welfare guidelines.
“The draft will tell people what they have to do rather than what they want to do,” Dr Wirth said. “The new standards would be regulatory, therefore a breach of the standards is a breach of the law.”
The proposed new laws are designed to formalise the national code, which states dogs must be walked at least once a day.
Dr Wirth said jail sentences would not be handed out for a first offence, but it would something available for magistrates to consider.
The proposed laws would be designed to help overcome the problems animal inspectors have had penalising bad owners. The working party is designed to create a national standard, but ultimately the laws would be have to be passed by state governments.
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