Dogs are an important part of many Western Australian families and promoting responsible dog ownership and the future health and welfare of dogs is a key priority for the State Government.
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The Dog Amendment (Stop Puppy Farming) Bill 2021 (the Bill) has passed through Parliament.
This means changes to the Dog Act 1976 to better regulate the breeding of dogs in Western Australia.
The changes will give local governments the tools to deal with irresponsible dog breeders, improve animal welfare and encourage responsible dog ownership through public awareness.
However, many of the legislative changes will take time to take effect.
This includes mandatory dog sterilisation and dog breeder approval to regulate the number of dogs being bred.
A centralised registration system will also be introduced to assist authorities in sharing information on dogs, dog owners and dog breeders within their district.
Changes set to take effect immediately are the muzzling requirements for pet or retired racing greyhounds when in public places, which are removed.
Greyhounds will still be required to be kept on a lead in public areas. Registered racing greyhounds will continue to be required to wear muzzles in all public places.
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Changes to the Dog Act 1976 have now passed through Parliament.
The changes will:
The following changes to the legislation have been made:
Under the new laws, a person will need to make an ‘approval to breed’ application to their local government.
They will be required to obtain an approval to breed dogs in the following circumstances:
Dog owners exempt from the requirement to get an approval to breed are owners of greyhounds that are registered with Racing and Wagering Western Australia (RWWA). This is because RWWA already regulates and monitors the breeding of racing greyhounds.
Members of dog associations such as Dogs West will still be required to apply for an ‘approval to breed’ dogs. This enables monitoring of all breeders by local government authorities for compliance with relevant laws.
An ‘approval to breed’ will be a one-off application. When granted, it will apply to all dogs, current and future, owned by that person while they reside in that district, unless otherwise cancelled.
An ‘approval to breed’ is, in effect, an approval to own unsterilised dogs — it has nothing to do with whether the owner is carrying on a business.
An ‘approval to breed’ remains in place until cancelled.
The ‘approval to breed’ will enable local governments to:
A local government will be able to refuse an application on the grounds that the applicant:
A local government will be able to attach conditions to the ‘approval to breed’. It can be cancelled by the local government if the dog owner who holds the ‘approval to breed’:
The local government can also cancel an ‘approval to breed’ for the same reasons that they can refuse an application for an ‘approval to breed’ dogs.
For many professional breeders who are registered with their own organisations the application for an ‘approval to breed’ may seem unnecessary.
However, the introduction of the requirement to obtain an ‘approval to breed’ with their local government is necessary for the consistent regulation of dog breeding, and to shut down any puppy farms.
Dog owners, including owners of a livestock working dogs, will only be required to pay a fee when they apply for an ‘approval to breed’.
Regulations setting the fees will be drafted and introduced once the new legislation has been passed by Parliament.
If a person’s ‘approval to breed’ is refused, they can lodge an objection with their local government or appeal the decision to the State Administrative Tribunal.
Under the new legislation, it will be mandatory for all dog owners to sterilise their dog by the time the dog reaches two years of age, unless it is otherwise exempt.
These provisions will only apply to dogs that are not registered with their local government when the legislation comes into effect.
Exemptions from sterilisation for dogs include:
The Bill also proposes to make changes to dog registration periods. Under the new legislation, the registration period for unsterilised dogs will change to annual registrations only. Registration periods for sterilised dogs will remain the same with annual,
three year and lifetime registration options available.
In addition to the current enforcement powers under the Dog Act 1976, local government authorities will have additional investigative and enforcement powers under the Dog Act 1976:
An online centralised registration system will be established under the laws. This aligns with previous requests from the local government sector and will improve the management of both dogs and cats in WA.
The introduction of an online system will bring benefits of convenience to consumers and local governments.
Owners will be able to apply to register their cats and dogs, supply documentation and make payment online. Local governments will approve the applications online and confirm the registration. Some people may still wish to do this by visiting their local
government in person.
All existing dog and cat registers in Western Australia that are currently maintained by local governments will be merged into the centralised registration system.
The State Government will acquire and maintain the database, and work with local governments on the transfer of the data.
All dog owners or dogs registered with local government will be given a ‘dog owner number’. This unique number will be available through the centralised registration system.
If a person transfers a dog, they will need to provide their ‘dog owner number’.
This will enable authorities to identify who is supplying dogs. If a person is claiming to have bred a dog, their ‘dog owner number’ can be searched on the centralised registration system to confirm that they have an approval to breed.
Approved dog breeders will not be issued with a specific ‘dog breeder number’ but will use their ‘dog owner number’ when transferring a dog.
Registration fees will be reviewed to cover the ongoing costs of the system, with new fees where applicable. More details will become available once the new system is acquired.
Under the new legislation, pet shops that would like to supply dogs will need to obtain a ‘pet shop approval’ from their local government. Approved pet shops will only be able to supply dogs sourced from a refuge organisation that has obtained
a ‘dog supply approval’ from the State Government.
Local governments will be responsible for assessing ‘pet shop approval’ applications from pet shops in their district. Local governments will only be able to refuse an application on particular grounds set out in the legislation.
Local governments will also be responsible for cancelling pet shop approvals when necessary.
The State Government will be responsible for assessing ‘dog supply approval’ applications from refuges and cancelling dog supply approvals when necessary.
A dog management facility will be able to apply for ‘approval to supply’ dogs to an approved pet shop.
A livestock working dog is a dog that is bona fide used in the droving or tending of stock.
Many owners of livestock working dogs keep their dogs unsterilised to assess whether their dog has desirable traits to be a working dog and should be used for breeding. This may take three or four years.
Livestock working dogs play a crucial role in the functioning of WA’s livestock industry and, as a result, will be exempt from the requirement to be sterilised by the time the dog is two years of age.
If the owner of a livestock working dog does intend to breed from their dog (regardless of the dog’s age), or their dog has a litter (planned or unplanned), they will be required to obtain an ‘approval to breed’ from their local government.
Currently, many members of Dogs West keep their dogs unsterilised for show and breeding purposes, following a strict code of ethics within their organisation. The new measures will ensure that unethical breeders can be traced. For the first time, every
dog owner in WA will need to comply with standards for dog breeding, housing, husbandry, transport and sale.
Additionally, they will ensure consumers are directed to ethical dog breeders, such as members of Dogs West, who comply with a Code of Ethics and new dog standards.
These standards are likely to be similar to those with which Dogs West members already comply.
Under the new proposals, Dogs West members who wish to keep their dog unsterilised after two years of age will have to apply for an ‘approval to breed’, like other dog owners.
This does not mean the owner has to breed from their dog; it simply allows them to keep unsterilised dogs over the age of two years.
Once the centralised registration system becomes live, dog and cat owners, including Dogs West members, will be able to register their animals and apply for breeder approvals online through the one system.
This system will not interact with any other systems currently in place, such as that run by the Australian National Kennel Club.
Local governments will only be able to access information on the centralised registration system.
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Western Australians are being urged to 'Adopt Don't Shop' and give rescued dogs a second chance by adopting a new household pet.
It is estimated that between 4000 to 5000 dogs are rehomed each year by rehoming organisations and local government pounds.
By adopting a dog, Western Australians can help to reduce the burden on these organisations and ensure a better life for our companion animals.
Currently, the State Government provides annual funding to various animal rescue and shelter organisations to support the rescue and re-homing of dogs.
For more information on where you can adopt a pet, contact:
Website dogshome.org.au Telephone 61 8 9381 8166
Website rspcawa.asn.au Website adoptapet.com.auTelephone 61 8 9209 9300
Website apswa.asn.au Telephone 61 8 9398 6616 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Website swananimalhaven.asn.au Telephone 61 8 9293 2047Telephone 0498 235 680
Website k9dogrescue.org.auTelephone 61 8 9581 9005
Website safe.org.auFor contact details of a relevant branch, visit their website
Do not submit enquiries with this form.