Animal Control Orders (Vic)
In Victoria, the Domestic Animals Act 1994 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 cover various offences in relation to the management and control of domestic animals (Domestic Animals Act 1994) and the treatment of animals in general (Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986). Under these acts, various applications can be made for conditions to be imposed on the owner of an animal or banning a person from owning an animal altogether, with the latter being commonly referred to as Control Orders.
When are Control Orders made?
In Victoria, if a person is found guilty of an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986, the sentencing court may then impose a Control Order, should it deem it appropriate. Under Section 12 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986, the court has several options available with respect to Control Orders. These are:
- Banning an individual from owning and/or being in charge of a class of animal for a set period of time (a full Control Order);
- Imposing conditions that a person must comply with should they be in charge or own a certain class of animal (a partial Control Order).
There are no specific criteria laid out as to whether a full control order or a partial control order should be made. This is up to the discretion of the prosecuting agency and the magistrate.
Duration of full control orders
Under Section 12 (1)(a) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986, a full Control Order should be imposed:
- For a period of up to ten years, if the individual has not been subject to a Control Order in the past (either in Victoria or interstate); or
- Permanently or for any period the court sees fit if the person has been subject to a Control Order in the past.
It is important to note that the above timeframes are a guide only. The court has the discretion to impose a longer or shorter Control Order, depending on the particular circumstances of the case.
Control order without further penalty
Under section 12(2) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986, when imposing a Control Order, the court has the discretion to make such an order instead of imposing any other penalty. This means that if the court finds it appropriate to make a Control Order, it is not required to impose any further penalty in relation to the offending. In this situation, the entirety of the sentence imposed is the Control Order.
Partial control orders
Should the court form the view that a Control Order is necessary, but not be prepared to impose a full Control Order, it may impose a partial Control Order, which allows the person to own and control animals but imposes conditions. Such an order can be imposed permanently, or for any other length of time that the court deems appropriate.
When considering if such a limited Control Order would be appropriate, the court must have regard to:
- The nature of the offending;
- Whether the individual has been subject to a Control Order in the past;
- Whether the individual has been charged, convicted and/or found guilty of any offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 in the past; and
- Any other factors that the court deems to be relevant.
One important factor with respect to any partial Control Order is the capacity and ability of the governing organisation to provide this ongoing monitoring, as there is likely to be a resource and cost implication for the governing body to do so. The court can authorise an animal cruelty inspector (such as the RSPCA), to undertake such monitoring.
The usual conditions imposed with respect to a partial Control Order are:
- That the person must engage a veterinarian to assess the animal at regular intervals;
- That a report from the treating veterinarian be provided to the governing body;
- That the person must follow all lawful directions of a veterinarian and/or representative of the governing body; and
- That the person must allow a representative of the governing body access to the premises where the animal is kept for the purpose of an assessment.
It is important to note that whilst the Prosecuting Agency may apply for a banning order, the court ultimately has discretion as to whether such an application is granted, and if so, in what conditions (that being a full Control Order or a partial Control Order).
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