The State Liberals have welcomed the passage of amendments to the Dog and Cat Management Act, nearly three years after a bipartisan committee supported the changes that have finally, reluctantly been accepted by the Weatherill Government.
“Unfortunately, legislation to protect dogs and cats from exploitation and decreasing the number of abandoned and euthanised animals was unnecessarily delayed”, said Shadow Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Michelle Lensink.
“Bizarrely, the Weatherill Government needed to commission a Citizens’ Jury to determine whether compulsory desexing should be part of the legislation.
“It then included a very narrow definition of desexing, which would dictate to veterinarians and owners which procedures could be undertaken.
“This definition would have precluded people from making decisions about what is in the best interests of the animal and by excluding procedures which are less invasive.
“Had the Weatherill Government adopted the select committee’s recommendations several years ago, the bill would have received rapid passage through the Parliament.
“Instead the Weatherill Government’s first bill abandoned support for compulsory desexing and included some bizarre provisions which would have enabled people’s pets to be destroyed after three days for being picked up for wandering at large.
“The second version largely adopted the Liberal Party’s private Member’s bill, but then massively increased fines for dogs wandering at large by 300 per cent. The proposed fine was way too harsh.
“The Weatherill Government wanted to slug South Australian dog owners $315 for something as innocent as a child leaving the gate open and the dog wandering down to the local park.
“Indeed the Weatherill Government wanted the fine for a dog simply wandering at large to be the same as the fine for a dog that attacks a person.
“We have also ensured that the special circumstances of working dogs have been included in the legislation, as recommended by the select committee.
“The legislation will assist in protecting companion animals by minimising the risk of exploitation and neglect through ‘puppy farms’, decreasing the number of unwanted animals being euthanised and abandoned, ensuring animals are treated humanely and increasing public awareness of animal welfare issues and owner responsibilities.
“The legislation will also introduce mandatory microchipping and establish a central microchip database to assist with reuniting owners and pets.”