Convicted animal abusers would be banned from owning animals and potentially face six-figure fines if NSW passes tough new animal cruelty laws that will soon be introduced to State Parliament.
Under the proposed laws, penalties for aggravated animal cruelty offences will increase fivefold to attract $110,000 fines, with a possible prison sentence of up to two years.
Penalties for regular cruelty offences will be increased eightfold to attract $44,000 fines and up to 12 months in prison.
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Fines for neglecting an animal and failing to provide food and shelter will be tripled to $16,500.
NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall plans to introduce the “toughest set” of laws designed to target the “worst of the worst” to parliament soon.
“Cruelty towards animals is one of the lowest acts and for too long our penalties here in NSW have lagged behind where they need to be,” Mr Marshall said.
“In some cases, these punishments are more than double that in most other states, so when these laws are passed, NSW will have the toughest set of animal cruelty penalties in Australia.
“Everyone – from those neglecting their pet in the backyard to covert puppy factory grubs – should be on notice from today; do the right thing or face the consequences.”
If the laws are passed, courts will also be granted the power to bar an offender from ever owning, caring for or breeding any animal in the state.
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Mr Marshall said the penalties would be increased to match community expectations, and would work with its enforcement agencies, the NSW Police, RSPCA and Animal Welfare League, to ensure they are applied.
RSPCA NSW CEO Steve Coleman said the organisation “absolutely” supported the proposed changes.
“For animal cruelty offenders, the message is that courts will be empowered to deal with them appropriately, in line with community expectation.
“For us, the introduction of lifetime bans will help address repeat offenders, which sadly is one of the biggest issues we encounter, and the increased penalties will make people think twice before committing the offences.”
Animal Welfare League NSW CEO Mark Slater said: “We welcome the proposed new changes from the Minister and look forward to working into the future with the new laws to ensure the best possible welfare outcomes for all animals.
“The changes to these laws will help to support our Inspectorate in ensuring cruelty offenders will be dealt with seriously in court.”
Last month, NSW announced a crackdown on “illegal puppy factories”, establishing a new Puppy Factory Taskforce within the RSPCA to crack down on the industry.
More than 20 raids have been conducted on puppy factories in NSW since July.