39 a feature cruelty and welfare mobile

Meet the RSPCA NSW Inspectorate and discover the laws that protect NSW animals.

Animal Welfare

RSPCA NSW Inspectors investigate complaints against all kinds of animals in all kinds of situations.

To investigate a complaint and exercise powers under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1979) in NSW, RSPCA Inspectors require reasonable grounds to suspect that an animal cruelty offence has been committed. For this reason, when you make a complaint, it is essential that you provide your contact details so that our Inspectors can confirm the facts and gather more information.

Your contact details remain strictly confidential and are protected in accordance with the NSW Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act.

Please note you must be at least 18 years of age to legally lodge a cruelty complaint.

Animal Cruelty and Welfare FAQs

If you witness any animal cruelty or an emergency involving an animal, please contact RSPCA NSW straight away. The animal emergency hotline number is 1300 CRUELTY (1300 278 3589).

Animal cruelty can also be reported online here.

When animal cruelty offences or breaches of the animal welfare codes of practice are detected, Inspectors may seize animals and items connected with offences. As part of the investigation into alleged animal welfare or cruelty offences, our Inspectors will offer an alleged offender an opportunity to participate in a record of interview. At the completion of an investigation, the matter will be reviewed and depending on the nature, duration, significance and ongoing impacts of the alleged offending there are a number of possible outcomes.

An alleged offender could be:

  • Served with court attendance notice/s requiring them to attend court and face criminal charges.
  • Issued with fine/s or Penalty Infringement Notice/s for the alleged offence.
  • Issued with a formal caution.
  • Or no action could be taken

Animals seized by RSPCA NSW Inspectors in connection with alleged animal cruelty offences, may be held in RSPCA care until court proceedings are finalised.

When an animal cruelty offender is convicted by a Court, RSPCA NSW can seek the costs associated with the care of the animal/s.

We can also seek an order from the Court awarding custody of the animals to RSPCA NSW and further orders requiring convicted people with animals to rehome animals in their care.  This can also include prohibition from purchasing, acquiring or having any animals under their care, control or supervision for specific periods of time.

There are 3 different categories that a job can be placed under: urgent, ASAP or routine.

  1. Urgent jobs are where animals  have suffered serious physical injury. They may have been attacked by people or other animals, may require urgent veterinary treatment or  are in imminent danger or are exposed to a life threatening situation. RSPCA NSW Inspectors will either attend or make arrangements for another agency (such as the police) to attend or take action within 24 hours of the complaint having been received.
  2. ASAP complaints are viewed as serious but not life threatening, and Inspectors will endeavour to attend or take appropriate action within 48 hours of the complaint being received. For example, animals in very poor body condition, not receiving proper and sufficient food or requiring veterinary treatment for non-life threatening conditions such as skin conditions and ear infections would be classified as ASAP.
  3. Routine jobs will  be attended to when the Urgent and ASAP complaints have been managed or attended to. Dogs in small enclosures, continually tethered or not receiving exercise are examples of routine matters. Inspections of pet shops, animal breeding facilities would be classified as routine complaints as well as Investigations into historic animal cruelty offences where no animals are currently at risk.

There are approximately 53 Inspectors based throughout Sydney and Regional NSW at any time.

Not only do Inspectors enforce the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, Regulations and associated Animal Welfare Codes of Practice, they also deliver education to the community through presentations and targeted animal welfare advice when working with individual animal owners who are the subject of animal cruelty complaints. Where possible, our Inspectors will work with animal owners to improve the welfare of animals in their care.  We also sit on advisory committees, perform animal rescues and assist other agencies such as Department of Primary Industries, National Parks, Police, Local Councils etc.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act does authorise Inspectors to enter land to examine animals if there are reasonable grounds to suspect an offence is, has or is going to be committed with respect to an animal.

With respect to a dwelling, an Inspector can enter, with the consent of the occupier of the dwelling, the authority of a search warrant or if the Inspector has reasonable grounds  to believe that an animal has suffered significant physical injury, is in imminent danger of suffering significant physical injury or has a life threatening condition that requires immediate veterinary treatment.

This is why we require you to provide your name, address and contact details when lodging complaints of alleged animal cruelty.

cta about rspca nsw


We believe in animals because they make our lives better and remind us what it is like to live humanely.

cta volunteer

Become a Volunteer

You can lend a hand in many ways, from walking dogs to joining fundraising events.

Become a monthly donor and transform the lives of animals in need today.