Perth Now. 25 Sept 2010
RSPCA inspectors want the power to hit cruel or lazy pet owners with on-the-spot fines.
The proposal is being investigated by the WA Government.
Under current laws people accused of animal cruelty can argue their case in court and only a magistrate can issue a fine for those convicted of an offence.
But the RSPCA is calling for new laws that would allow inspectors to hit pet owners, farmers or anyone who mistreats an animal with an on-the-spot infringement.
Local Government Minister John Castrilli said there were “a number of potential benefits” in allowing animal inspectors the power to issue fines and he said it was “something I intend to investigate further”.
In New South Wales and Tasmania, RSPCA officers can hand out fines ranging from $200 to $500 for minor offences such as leaving a dog in a hot car or driving a ute with an untethered animal in the back. Major cases of cruelty are still prosecuted in court.
Last month a kangaroo had its legs shot off and the mother and its joey were left for dead in Donnybrook in the South-West.
RSPCA WA spokesman Tim Mayne said inspectors had seen sickening examples of animals beaten with metal clubs and attacked with knives and crossbows this year. Drowning and starvation were also common causes of cruelty, he said.
Mr Mayne said on-the-spot fines would send a loud and clear message to animal cruelty offenders.
RSPCA inspectors carried out 3936 cruelty investigations and animal rescues in WA last financial year, down from 4419 in 2008-09 but up from 3117 in 2007-08.
“The RSPCA wants to get the message clear that animal cruelty and neglect will not be tolerated in today’s society and this is totally unacceptable behaviour,” Mr Mayne said.
Mr Castrilli said he first wanted to develop cat-control legislation and finalise amendments to the Dog Act.
The Federal Government was also working on animal cruelty reforms that would affect how the crimes were policed in WA, Mr Castrilli said.
“The Commonwealth Government is developing codes of practice to harmonise a national approach to animal welfare outcomes which are likely to become enforceable under regulations,” he said.