RSPCA NSW welcomes tougher penalties for animal cruelty offences

RSPCA NSW welcomes amendments to state animal welfare legislation which bring tougher penalties for animal cruelty offences, including the introduction of a new offence under the Prevention to Cruelty Animals Act 1979 (POCTAA).

In a historic moment for animals in the state, New South Wales now has some of the toughest penalties for animal cruelty offences in the country.

“This is a milestone for all animals great and small across the state,” said RSPCA NSW CEO Steve Coleman.

“These are things that we have been advocating for as an organisation for many years and we are pleased that state legislation is progressing to reflect changing community expectations.

“We know that the community feels strongly about animal welfare. These changes will help us to continue to our mission to protect and serve animals.”

The maximum penalty increases include:

  • For committing an act of cruelty: fine increased from $5,500 and/or 6 months imprisonment to $44,000 and/or 12 months imprisonment for individuals, and from $27,500 to $220,000 for corporations.
  • For committing an act of aggravated cruelty: fine increased from $22,000 to $110,000 and/or 2 years imprisonment for individuals, and from $110,000 to $550,000 for corporations.
  • For failure to provide proper and sufficient food, drink or shelter: fine increased from $5,500 to $16,500 and/or 6 months imprisonment for individuals, and from $27,000 to $82,500 for corporations.
  • For failure to comply with a prohibition order and for failure to produce animal pursuant to a court order: fine increased from $2,750 to $5,500 and/or 6 months imprisonment.

The amendments also include:

  • The limitation period for commencement of proceedings has also increased from 12 months to three years, which extends the period of time for RSPCA inspectors to investigate cruelty complaints.
  • The inclusion of a definition for an ‘animal cruelty offence’, which extends disqualification orders to offences under the Crimes Act as well as POCTAA.
  • The introduction of a new definition ‘disqualification order’, which is available for defendants convicted of offences under POCTAA and the Crimes Act. The court may also make interim disqualification orders which apply to prevent people before the Court for animal cruelty offences acquiring animals while the matters are before the Court.
  • A new offence has been created under POCTAA, which prohibits people convicted of animal cruelty offences under the Crimes Act from purchasing, owning or working with animals. These include offences of serious animal cruelty and bestiality.

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Images & audio grabs from RSPCA NSW CEO Steve Coleman available for download here.