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RSPCA ACT Supports new Bill with pets to be recognised as sentient beings in Canberra

RSPCA ACT has provided significant input into the Bill and we are very encouraged by the ACT Governments push to have animals recognised as sentient beings.

The RSPCA in the ACT believes that most Canberrans are responsible and loving pet owners, and foresee very little impact that the proposed changes to the Animal Welfare Legislation will have on them on a daily basis.

The proposed changes could, however, have a significant impact on pet owners who continuously do the wrong thing. 

The RSPCA ACT Inspectorate’s ability to take punitive and corrective measures will also be strengthened by a number of the proposed amendments.

RSPCA ACT CEO Michelle Robertson is in favour of many amendments in the bill, in particular

  • Animals being recognised as sentient beings.
  • Interim ownership bans being improved and permanent prohibition on animal ownership being introduced.
  • New offences and offence categories being included, in particular a clean and hygienic environment.
  • A framework for regulating pet businesses being introduced.
  • A range of strict liability offences being introduced.

The Amendment Bill places a high emphasis on the recognition of animals as sentient beings.

“Understanding and recognising animal sentience is important to help identify the needs of animals and to assess their welfare in different circumstances.”

“The RSPCA believes in the five freedoms for animals and under the current legislation, we are largely only able to take correct action for the first three, which are: freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort and freedom from pain, injury and disease”

“The fourth freedom is the freedom to express normal behaviour by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company.  As an example, if you subject a big healthy dog to being confined and isolated with limited movement, it is not able to display its normal behaviour.”

“The fifth freedom is freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.  We have never been able to take significant action in this regard.”

RSPCA ACT has high hopes that the introduced legislation will continue to stimulate debate on how people can increasingly be not only responsible pet owners, but advocates for high standards of animal welfare and well-being.