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Dog and Cat Management (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill

Adjourned debate on second reading

(Continued from 18 November 2015)

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY ( 12:46 :20 ): The Dog and Cat Management (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill makes a number of amendments to the existing act. I will not speak to all the aspects of the bill but merely the main aspects.

I am supportive of compulsory microchipping of dogs and cats as I believe it is beneficial not only for the owners but for the animals as well. There are often instances where dogs and cats are separated from their owners, and obviously if the animal is microchipped that will ensure it is returned quickly. This reduces the stress on the animal as well as the anxious owners. An exemption exists for some animals, provided it is at the discretion of a veterinarian. I understand that the Hon. Robert Brokenshire and the opposition have filed amendments which would exempt working farm dogs as well.

The bill also provides for compulsory desexing of dogs and cats. Again, the bill allows for veterinarian-approved exemptions; however, it also allows an additional exemption for registered breeders. Many councils have offered discounts on dog and cat registration for owners who have microchipped and/or desexed their animal. This is a positive move which encourages responsible pet ownership. However, I was recently contacted by a constituent who had gone to register their dog. I understand there is a requirement to register a dog within three months, and this person attended the council within three months and was advised that the registration could be further discounted if the dog were desexed.

However, for many dog breeds it is not recommended that they be desexed until they are at least six months old. I understand some councils offer to apply the discount retrospectively once owners are able to provide proof that the dog has been desexed, but in this particular case the council advised that no discount would apply. This matter was raised at the briefing with the Local Government Association and the minister's office, and I would be grateful if the minister could advise if he has any further information on this.

A new breeder registration scheme will be established under the bill, whereby registered breeders will have to abide by a code of practice. Only breeders who are registered will be allowed to sell dogs or cats, and a list of these breeders will be kept by the Dog and Cat Management Board. I understand that registration will be to the tune of about $100 or so per animal. Whilst I appreciate that the board would want to keep breeder registration low-cost, I am concerned that there is no regulation of the breeders: that is to say, I understand that there is a mandatory code of practice that breeders must abide by, but there is no-one who will check to ensure that this is being adhered to.

Can the minister provide further information about this? In particular, will councils and the RSPCA rely on information from the public to investigate breaches of the code? How will breaches of the code be dealt with? If a breeder is deregistered, will this be declared as a reviewable decision that can be reviewed by SACAT? Will deregistered breeders be named and shamed on the board's website?

The minister indicated that a breeder registration scheme would reduce or stamp out puppy farms. However, without regulation of the code of practice, I do not understand how this would occur, and I would be grateful for any further information on this.