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) Act 2021 was passed by Parliament in December 2021.
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, further work is required before many of the legislative changes will 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.
As of 23 December 2021, pet or retired racing greyhounds are still required to be kept on a lead in a public place, but are not required to wear a muzzle. Registered racing greyhounds 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, however many of the provisions are yet to commence.
The changes will:
The following changes to the legislation are yet to commence:
Since 23 December 2021, muzzling requirements for pet or retired racing greyhounds when in public places were removed, making greyhounds more desirable as pets. Greyhounds are still required to be kept on a lead in public areas. Registered racing greyhounds
continue to be required to wear muzzles in all public places.
The commencement of the other provisions will require the development of regulations and the development of a centralised registration system, in consultation with stakeholders.
When the new laws commence, 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 in consultation with stakeholders.
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.
When the new laws commence, 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 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. Local governments will be able to:
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 in consultation with stakeholders, with new fees where applicable. More details will become available once the new system is acquired.
Under the new legislation, pet shops selling 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 or dog management facility 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 dog management facilities and cancelling dog supply approvals when necessary.
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 becomes pregnant (planned or unplanned), they will be required to obtain an ‘approval to breed’ from their local
Currently, many members of Dogs West keep their dogs unsterilised for show and breeding purposes, following a strict code of ethics within their organisation.
When the new laws commence, Dogs West members who wish to keep their dog unsterilised after two years of age will be required to apply to the local government for an ‘approval to breed’, like other dog owners. This does not mean the owner
has to breed from their dog; it allows them to keep unsterilised dogs over the age of two years.
The new measures will ensure that unethical breeders can be traced.
Additionally, the laws will ensure consumers are directed to ethical dog breeders, such as members of Dogs West, who are granted an approval to breed.
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 email@example.com
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.