Animal welfare laws for dogs

The Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 applies to all animals, including dogs. Offences under the Act include cruelty, abandonment or breach of duty of care.

There are also specific offences for dogs under the Act.

Transporting a dog

You have a legal obligation to make sure your dog is safe when transporting it in a vehicle.

Inside a vehicle

You must not transport a dog inside a vehicle if any part of the dog, other than its head, can protrude from the vehicle.

A maximum penalty of $9,678.00 applies.

On a vehicle tray or trailer

If you are transporting a dog in the tray of a vehicle or on a trailer, the dog must be secured to stop it from:

  • falling off the tray or trailer
  • moving off the tray or trailer
  • being injured by the movement of the vehicle or trailer.

A maximum penalty of $9,678.00 applies.

This does not apply if a dog is helping to move livestock.

Procedures on a dog

The Act regulates procedures on dogs including:

  • ear cropping
  • debarking
  • tail docking.

These procedures must only be done:

  • by a veterinary surgeon
  • and
  • in the best interests of the dog's welfare.

A veterinary surgeon must provide a certificate for these procedures.

Dogs harming other animals

Other offences under the Act include the actions of dogs that cause another animal to suffer.

The person in control of the dog is potentially liable for prosecution.

These offences are:

  • knowingly causing an animal in captivity to be injured or killed by a dog
  • releasing an animal to allow it to be, or in circumstances in which it is likely to be, injured or killed by a dog
  • keeping or using an animal to use as a kill or lure to blood a dog, or to race or train a coursing dog.

The maximum penalty for these offences is $48,390.00 or 1 year's imprisonment.

See sections 30–32 of the Act for more information.

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