NSW Draft Companion Animals Regulation Review

Friday 27 April 2018 @ 9.53 a.m. | Legal Research

The NSW Office of the Local Government is now receiving submissions for the Companion Animals Regulation 2008 review consultation (“the Consultation”). This consultation, the second of two separate consultations, asks stakeholders to review the Companion Animals Regulation 2008 (NSW) (“the 2008 regulation”), made under the Companion Animals Act 1998 (NSW) (“the Act”). The consultation also asks for stakeholder opinion on a draft Companion Animals Regulation 2018 (NSW) (the “draft regulation”), which proposes to repeal and replace the 2008 regulation.

Submissions for this consultation close on Tuesday 22 May 2018.

The Current Legislative Framework

The current NSW legislative framework surrounding the management, identification and registration of companion animals is comprised of the Companion Animals Act 1998 and the Companion Animals Regulation 2008. These two pieces of legislation are summarised in the Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) released in concurrence with the draft regulation.

“This Act covers responsibilities for pet owners and breeders in relation to registering and identifying companion animals, general responsibilities of dog owners and provisions for dogs declared to be dangerous as well as restricted dogs’ breeds. However, matters of animal welfare are not covered by the Act. The Minister for Primary Industries is responsible for seeking to ensure the broader welfare of all animals including cats and dogs under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (POCTA), which is administered by the Department of Primary Industries (Animal Welfare Branch).

The Regulation provides for the permanent identification of companion animals, their registration and the regulation of dangerous and restricted dogs. It also provides for other miscellaneous matters, such as registration fees and those offences for which penalties notices could be issued.

The key objectives of the companion animals regulatory framework are to:

  • provide effective and responsible care and management of companion animals
  • safely return lost animals to their homes
  • keep the community and other animals safe
  • reduce the number of animals admitted to pounds and shelters
  • reduce the proportion of animals that are euthanised.”

The Consultation

Under the Subordinate Legislation Act 1989 (NSW) (the “SLA”), the 2008 Regulation is due for repeal on 1 September 2018. The draft regulation and the regulatory impact statement (“RIS”) were therefore released as was required by the SLA to allow for public consultation leading up to the repeal and replacement of the 2008 regulation.

Prior to this consultation, another separate consultation was held in 2017, which gathered feedback in relation to a Discussion Paper outlining areas in which the 2008 regulation could be improved or updated. This initial consultation received 112 submissions, with many of the recommendations forming the basis for the draft regulation of the current consultation.

The areas for change which were highlighted by the submissions of the initial consultation were outlined in the introductory paper released with the draft regulation:

“There are three key proposals for change in the Regulation to be further tested during this public consultation period:

  • changes to registration fees reflecting annual inflation adjustments;
  • extending the definition of eligible pound or shelter operator to allow animals adopted from rescue groups to access subsidised registration fees; and
  • increases in penalty notice offences to reflect inflation and reduce the high rate of offending in relation to certain offences.”

The Draft Regulation

The draft regulation was released with the purpose of gaining public consultation on the proposed amendments to the current regulation, as altered by the submissions of the previous consultation. The objectives of the draft regulation were summarised in the RIS, page 15:

“The current and Draft Regulation have been designed to give effect to particular provisions of the Act that seek to ensure that responsibilities for pet owners and breeders in regards to identifying, registering and managing companion animals (pet cats and dogs), and provisions for dogs declared to be dangerous as well as restricted dog breeds.

The objectives of the Draft Regulation remain the same as the Companion Animals Regulation 2008. These are to make provisions with respect to:

  1. the permanent identification of companion animals (providing the mechanism for the return of a companion animal to its rightful owner and supporting enforcement action under the Act through identification of the owner of a companion animal)
  2. the registration of companion animals (for efficiency and consistency across the state in the management of the registration scheme for companion animals in support of the provisions in the Act)
  3. the Register of Companion Animals (the Register)
  4. the regulation of dangerous or restricted dogs (providing protection to members of the general public from attacks by dangerous and restricted dogs)
  5. the fees payable for registration of animals and penalty notice offences.

Overall, the key objectives of the Draft Regulation can be seen as to provide:

  • legislative support and administrative detail for the operation of the Act
  • clear requirements relating to:
    • the manner in which animals have to be identified, the identification process, the persons authorised to identify animals and the identification information that has to be provided for a companion animal
    • enclosures for dangerous or restricted dogs and distinctive collars for dangerous, menacing or restricted dogs
  • a framework for adequate oversight of companion animals’ management.”

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Companion Animals Regulation 2018 (draft), Regulatory Impact Statement and explanatory materials available on TimeBase's LawOne service.

Companion Animals Regulation 2008, available on TimeBase's LawOne service.

Companion Animals Act 1998, available on TimeBase's LawOne service.

Companion Animals Regulation 2008 Review Consultation (2018). NSW Office of the Local Government.

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