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

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1979)

Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1979), RSPCA inspectors have the power to remove animals from owners who are cruel, neglectful or indifferent to their animals’ suffering.

Inspectors investigate up to 15,000 complaints every year. Many of these complaints are dealt with on the spot by educating owners of their responsibility. The cruelty cases are referred to the courts for prosecution.

RSPCA inspectors investigate complaints against all kinds of animals in all kinds of situations. The most common complaints are failure to provide adequate and proper food, shelter or veterinary treatment. Inspectors also investigate:

  • abandoned animals
  • animals not fed proper and sufficient food
  • animals not provided with veterinary treatment
  • acts of intentional cruelty and harm
  • continually tethered animals (longer than 24 hours at a time)
  • drought-stricken livestock
  • hoarders – people with more animals than they can look after
  • pet shops
  • animal breeding facilities
  • sale yards

To learn more about the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 and what RSPCA NSW can legally investigate, please click here.


The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1979) is the legislation that governs animal welfare in NSW. Its objectives are:

(a) to prevent cruelty to animals,

(b) to promote the welfare of animals by requiring a person in charge of an animal

(i) to provide care for the animal,

(ii) to treat the animal in a humane manner

(iii) to ensure the welfare of the animal

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.

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.