Posted on February 17, 2014 by

Companion Animals Taskforce response

The State Government has released its final response to the Companion Animals Taskforce, a body set up by the government in 2011 to review the Companion Animals Act 1998 (Act) as well as policy on dog and cat welfare generally.

You may recall that two tragic attacks last year pre-empted the Government’s general announcement.  You can see the previous report here.

Some significant changes have already occurred with amendments late last year to the Act, such as the introduction of the new, intermediate category of menacing dog.

This new category of designation of a dog is popular with Councils due to the fact that a Council decision to declare a dog menacing cannot be challenged in the Local Court, unlike a declaration that a dog is dangerous: see section 41 Act and the clarifying note in the amended Act.

The announcement last week that the Government has responded to the Taskforce’s 38 recommendations is welcome news.  The Taskforce was comprised of nine key stakeholder groups, including the RSPCA (NSW), the Animal Welfare League and the Australian Institute of Local Government Rangers.  The Government has indicated support for almost all 38 recommendations.  You can see the full response here.

The response is not all legislative.  There will be funding available for Responsible Pet Ownership education programs directed to young families, as well as $900,000 to councils to target micro chipping, de-sexing and registration.

Registration fees will be automatically indexed from 1 January 2014 with the CPI .

The good work of the Taskforce itself will continue with the creation of a Responsible Pet Ownership Reference Group which will be an ongoing advisory body reporting to the Minister for Local Government.