New Dog and Cat Laws are almost here!

The most significant changes to South Australia’s dog and cat management laws in more than 20 years will soon start to come into effect.

The changes to the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 will begin to take effect from July 1 this year.

The major changes include mandatory microchipping for all dogs and cats by three months of age, a new dog and cat breeder registration system and increased penalties for people who allow their dogs to wander or attack.

Understanding what SA’s new Dog and Cat Laws mean for you

If you are among the thousands of South Australians who have furry, four-legged family members, then these new laws affect you.

If you breed puppies and/or kittens for sale, they affect you too.

Background

On the 18 November 2015 the Hon. Ian Hunter, Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation introduced the Dog and Cat Management (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2015 into Parliament.  

Parliament passed the Bill on 6 July 2016.

The Bill aims to improve the welfare of dogs and cats through the introduction of new laws for pet owners and breeders. The passing of this Bill means that the microchipping and desexing of dogs and cats becomes a legal requirement, with exceptions for registered breeders and the owners of working dogs.

RSPCA South Australia welcomes these new laws. We are hopeful that they will;

  • Increase the number of lost dogs and cats returned to their owners
  • Promote responsible pet ownership
  • Reduce the number of unwanted animals ending up in shelters
  • Ensure higher standards of care for all dogs and cats at breeding facilities and pet shops

Will these new laws stop puppy farms from operating in South Australia?

The new dog and cat laws, together with a new code of practice for dog and cat breeders and traders that will come into effect from 1st August 2017 (South Australian Standards and Guidelines for Breeding and Trading Companion Animals), will help to provide some assurance that puppies and kittens are bred and made available for sale under acceptable conditions.

Under the new laws, anyone who breeds dogs and cats for sale must register with the Dog and Cat Management Board and comply with the new Code.

However, while these changes to legislation will help in the fight against irresponsible breeders and puppy farms, the onus remains on buyers to be vigilant when checking the integrity of a breeder. RSPCA’s Smart Puppy Buyer’s Guide will help you to make sure you’re buying your puppy from a reputable breeder.

And if you have any information about illegal puppy farms or the mistreatment of breeding animals, please call RSPCA South Australia’s 24-hour cruelty hotline on 1300 4 777 22. Our Inspectors can’t investigate unless they know where to find these facilities.

FAQ about the new laws:

 

My dog/cat is desexed and microchipped. How do these laws affect me?

For registration purposes, from July 1 this year your dog is classified as a “standard dog” and will be eligible for a discount on registration fees.

 

My dog/cat is microchipped but isn’t desexed. How do these laws affect me?

Unless you qualify to be exempt from the new laws, your dog/cat is classified as Non-Standard and you will not be eligible for a discount on the registration fee. (Note that all dogs/cats born after July 1 2018 have to be desexed by six months of age. Exemptions can be granted by a Vet on medical grounds and exemptions are also available for breeders or the owners of working livestock dogs – see Working Livestock Dogs.)

My dog/cat isn’t microchipped and I’m worried about the procedure hurting him/her.

Microchipping is a safe and permanent way to identify your dog/cat. The procedure is quick, with no ongoing discomfort and should only be carried out by a qualified implanter. They are the size of a grain of rice and the procedure is similar to vaccination.

Provided that their owner details are kept up to date, microchips ensure that pets can quickly be reunited with their owners, if lost.

Microchipped and desexed dogs/cats receive a substantial discount (usually 50%) on council dog registration.

Where can I get my dog/cat microchipped?

You can get your dog or cat microchipped by a vet. You may also be able to get discounted microchipping – for upcoming locations and online booking go to www.chipblitz.com.au. Many Vets also offer discount microchipping rates to concession card holders.

Do I have to desex my dog/cat?

Only dogs and cats born after July 1 2018 have to be desexed (with exemptions for registered breeders and the owners of working livestock dogs). However, we recommend all dogs and cats be desexed. Not only does desexing reduce the number of unwanted dogs and cats ending up in shelters, it also means you qualify for a discount on council registration fees. Still not convinced? You can find more reasons to desex your pet here.

What extended powers will councils now have in relation to the management of dogs and cats?

From July 1 this year, council officers will have increased powers to investigate dog and cat offences. Officers will have new powers to take photographs or videos, seize evidence and compel suspects to provide their name, contact details and other information.

Fines and expiations for dog and cat owners who flout the rules will also increase.

You can read about the changes here.

I breed puppies/kittens to sell – how do these laws affect me?

As a breeder, you will need to register your business with the Dog and Cat Management Board (DCMB) from July 1 2018 and adhere to new industry standards and guidelines, which stipulate the minimum welfare conditions that must be met to comply with SA’s animal welfare laws.

I want to buy a puppy/kitten – how can I check that the breeder is registered?

All dog and cat breeders will need to register with the Dog and Cat Management Board or Dogs SA. Your local council can find out for you if a person is a registered breeder. The DCMB is also developing an online database that will enable the public to identify and contact dog and cat breeders.

Are there mandatory breeder standards?

Yes. The South Australian Standards and Guidelines for Breeding and Trading Companion Animals 2017 are legally enforceable minimum standards for the breeding, trading and supply of companion animals. (Guidelines are the recommended practise for achieving good animal welfare outcomes. Some guidelines provide recommendations for complying with a standard.)

If a breeder is registered, is that enough proof that they are not operating a puppy farm?

Breeder registration is the first step towards accountability that will weed out puppy farms. At present, the location of most breeders is unknown. Often, buyers of dogs and cats are unable to identify the origin of their new pet, if anything goes wrong. The new register of breeders will list all SA breeders, the good and the bad. This will ensure that council officers and the RSPCA know where all breeders are located, so they can investigate breaches of the law. Consequently, registration as a breeder will not be a guarantee of quality.

Under the new registrations system, breeders must comply with the new SA Standards and Guidelines. Unfortunately, due to insufficient resources to regularly inspect all dog breeding facilities, there have been incidents interstate of puppy farms operated by registered breeders. We recommend you read the RSPCA’s Smart Puppy Buyer’s Guide before going in search of your new furry friend so you can identify reputable breeders to deal with.

What should I do if my dog or cat has an unplanned litter?

Mistakes happen sometimes! If you find yourself with unwanted puppies or kittens, then it’s important to take good care of them until they are old enough (at least eight weeks old) to go to new homes. Make sure whomever you give or sell them to understands their responsibilities as pet owners – not everyone has the time, money, temperament or environment to care for animals properly.

If you can’t find suitable homes, then we recommend that you take them to a reputable shelter such as the RSPCA’s shelter at Lonsdale. And PLEASE get your pet desexed so it doesn’t happen again! (You would have to register as a breeder with the Dog and Cat Management Board if you decided to sell the puppies or kittens.)

If I give away puppies or kittens, is it my responsibility to get them desexed?

All puppies and kittens born after July 1 2018 must be desexed by 6 months of age. So if you give away un-desexed puppies and kittens under 6 months, then it will be the new owner’s responsibility to desex.

When does the new breeder registration system begin in South Australia?

All dog and cat breeders must register with the Dog and Cat Management Board from July 1, 2018.

What happens after I register?

When you register as a dog or cat breeder, you will be issued with a Breeder Registration Number (BRN). This BRN must be included in any advertisement (including online advertisements) for the sale of any dog or cat you breed. The BRN must also be provided to the purchaser, at the point of sale.

Your registration is for 12 months and if you want to continue breeding dogs or cats, you will need to renew your registration annually. Registration as breeder automatically exempts the dog or cat from the requirement to be desexed.

If your registration details change, you must update your registration details within 7 days of the changes coming into effect.

Will the new South Australian Dog/Cat Breeder Register allow a person that breeds on alternate years to retain and use the same BRN?

Yes. Although registration is only current for twelve months, the new register will recognise previously registered breeders and have the capability to re-issue the same Breeder Registration Number (BRN) for subsequent registrations.

I’m a registered breeder with Dogs SA. Do I still need to register with DCMB?

Yes. From July 1 2018, all dog and cat breeders must register with DCMB.

Do these new laws apply to breeders of racing greyhounds?

Yes.

Can puppies and kittens still be exchanged for other goods under the new laws?

Yes. These new laws do not prohibit the exchange of puppies and kittens for other goods, but we hope that anyone offering a puppy or kitten in exchange for something would first ensure that the interested person has the capacity to properly accommodate and care for the animal.

Note that if you exchange a dog or cat for goods (rather than money), you would still be breeding for sale and be required to register as a breeder with the Dog and Cat Management Board.  

What is a ‘breeder’ or a ‘trader’?

A breeder is anyone who breeds a dog or cat for sale. A trader is anyone who sells a companion animal. All breeders and traders are required to comply with the Standards for Breeding and Trading Companion Animals 2017 when it comes into effect on 1 August 2017. They must also comply with local council bylaws and other state legislation.

Sale includes any ‘barter’ or ‘exchange’. So, for example, if a breeder gave away a dog but required the purchaser to pay for their costs of desexing, this would still be breeding for sale and the breeder would need to register as a breeder.  

Can a child register as a breeder?

No. Children under 18 may not register as a breeder. In these circumstances the parent or guardian of the child must register as a breeder.

I only have a litter or two of puppies/kittens that I offer for sale each year as a hobby – am I considered a breeder?

Yes. The purpose of the new rules are to shine a light on the industry by keeping track of all breeders who sell or exchange dogs and cats for goods. You must register as a breeder if you have, or are responsible for, a dog or cat that has puppies/kittens that you intend to sell.

What do I do if my dog/cat is already pregnant on July 1, 2018, when most of the new laws begin?

From July 1 2018 you will need to register as a breeder and get a Breeder Registration Number (BRN) if you intend to sell the animals.

I don’t make money from my dogs/cats. I give them away to family, friends or neighbours – am I considered a breeder?

No. You are not required to register as a breeder if you are giving puppies or kittens away. Barter and exchange come within the definition of sale. So, the ‘giving away’ must be genuine and not given in return for any other benefit, including goods or services.

(NOTE: All dogs and cats born after 1 July 2018 must be desexed. Exemptions only apply to registered breeders or owners of working dogs.)

My dog/cat is pregnant by accident – an unplanned litter. Am I considered a breeder?

Not if you intend to keep the litter or give it away. You would not need to register as a breeder unless you intended to sell the animals or exchange them for goods. (NOTE: All dogs and cats born after 1 July 2018 must be desexed. Exemptions only apply to registered breeders or owners of working dogs.)

If I temporarily supply my male dog/cat for breeding purposes, do I need to register as a breeder?

This will depend on whether the person supplying the stud animal then keeps any of the litter and sells them. The obligation to register applies to the person selling the resulting puppies or kittens.

I only want to breed one litter so I can keep one of the puppies/kittens – can I get an exemption?

You do not have to register as a breeder unless you intend to sell the puppies/kittens. (NOTE: All dogs and cats born after 1 July 2018 must be desexed. Exemptions only apply to registered breeders or owners of working dogs.)

I am a registered breeder under another state/territory’s laws – do I have to register in South Australia?

Only if the transaction occurs in South Australia. If the transaction occurs in another state and the dog is transported to South Australia afterwards, this new legislation does not apply.

However, if you are an interstate-based breeder and you advertise in SA-based media or on a SA-specific website (eg: Gumtree Adelaide) then you will need to register in SA and include a Breeder Registration Number in your advertisement.

Even if a breeder is not required to be registered (eg because the breeder is based interstate and is not advertising in SA), at the point of sale of any dog or cat, the details of the breeder must be provided by the vendor to the purchaser.

I am a member of a dog breeder association in another state/territory – can I use my membership number as a supply number in South Australia?

No.

I don’t live in South Australia and I breed dogs outside of South Australia for supply/sale within South Australia – must I register?

Yes. The owners of all dogs supplied within South Australia must have a BRN if advertised or sold  and the BRN must be included in the information required to be handed over at the point of sale.

Does the requirement to register as a breeder in South Australia cover dogs bred for export?

Yes. While the export of dogs is covered by the Federal Government, all dog breeders in South Australia who sell, including those breeding for export, will be required to register to breed from 1 July 2018, and comply with all the requirements.

Will the sale of dogs/cats through pet shops be banned?

Provided pet shops comply with the South Australian Standards & Guidelines for Breeding & Trading Companion Animals 2017, as well as the SA Animal Welfare Act 1985, dogs and cats can be sold through pet shops.

Will pet shops sell my puppies/kittens if I’m not registered?

No. Pet shops must include a BRN in all of their advertisements and must provide the purchaser of any dog or cat with a BRN. If they sell a dog or cat without providing this BRN, the pet shop will commit an offence.

Can I still sell my puppies/kittens online or privately?

Yes, so long as you are a registered breeder with DCMB and provide the required details to the buyer, including current contact details and your BRN.

Can I operate as a breeder without being a member of a breeder association (eg Dogs SA or the Feline Association SA) or if I am breeding non-pedigree pets?

Yes, but you will still need to register as a breeder with the DCMB. The breeder register applies to breeders of all dogs and cats, not just pedigrees.

Do pets for sale in public view need to have breeder ID and sire/dam details displayed?

No. The display of the parentage of the dogs or cats being sold is not a requirement under the new laws. Pet shops do need to display the BRN, identifying the breeder, for any animals sold or advertised for sale.

What will it cost to register as a dog or cat breeder with DCMB?

The DCMB has indicated that the breeder registration fee in 2018-19 will be $75. A discounted rate of $50 will be available to members of certain breeder associations with codes of practice and standards (eg: Dogs SA, the Feline Association of SA and the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy of SA). 

I am a primary producer breeding working livestock dogs – am I considered a breeder?

Primary producers who breed working livestock dogs are entitled to keep their dogs entire however, they must still register as breeders.

If the dog will no longer be used as a working livestock dog, the desexing exemption will end and the owner (whether the breeder or a subsequent purchaser) must desex the dog.

What is the definition of a “working livestock dog”?

A working livestock dog means a dog usually kept or proposed to be kept on rural land by an owner who is a primary producer, or a person engaged or employed by a primary producer.

The dog is to be kept primarily for the purpose of droving, protecting, tending, or working stock, or is being trained in droving, protecting, tending, or working stock.

Is the breed of dog relevant to the definition of ‘working livestock dog’?

No. The definition does not include a breed, just the purposes for which the dog is kept.

I am breeding from my working livestock dog and will be providing a puppy to another person as a pet – do I need to register?

Yes.

Are pig-dogs considered to be a ‘working livestock dog’?

No. Under the law, the definition of a working livestock dog is limited to working dogs kept on rural land for droving, protecting, tending or working stock. It does not include managing feral animals.

Are guard dogs kept for property protection on rural land exempt?

No. The definition of ‘working livestock dog’ is limited to dogs kept on rural land for droving, protecting, tending or working stock.

Are dogs kept for guarding livestock on rural land exempt?

Yes. Dogs used to protect stock meet the definition of a working livestock dog.

What should I do if I think someone is breaching these new laws?

If there is an animal welfare concern, call the RSPCA SA Hotline (1300 477 722). For other matters, call your local council and ask for the animal management officer or someone from their regulatory services team.

Is there a penalty if I sell puppies or kittens after July 1 2018, and I’m not registered as a breeder?

Yes. It is an offence if you fail to register as a breeder and you sell or advertise puppies or kittens for sale that have been born on or after 1 July 2018.  

Is it an offence to use someone else’s Breeder Registration Number (BRN)?

Yes. It is an offence to use another person’s BRN to sell a puppy or kitten that you have bred.

However, if you are selling a dog you have not bred to another person you must use the BRN of the person who bred the dog.

What happens to the dogs/cats if a breeder’s registration is cancelled or suspended?

The breeder registration number is a permanent record, identifying the breeder of each dog and cat. This record will remain, even if a registration is cancelled or suspended, the breeder has died or moved away.

Breeder registration, in itself, will not be a guarantee that the breeder will have high standards. The breeder register will be a tool that enables council and the RSPCA to enforce the law and will enable purchasers of dogs and cats to identify where their pet came from, so they can follow up with the breeder if any issues arise.

If there are animal welfare concerns, actions may be taken under South Australia’s Animal Welfare Act 1985.

Will the address and contact details of breeders be available to local government?

Yes. Local government officers appointed under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 will have access to breeder details on the Breeder Register. However, this is only for the purposes of performing functions under this Act.

Certain parts of the register will be accessible to the public. For example, each breeder must ensure the register includes a contact phone number. However, the location of the breeding premises will not be publicly available.

How can I make a complaint about a breeder with no Breeder Registration Number?

You can report an unregistered breeder or a person supplying a puppy or kitten without a BRN to your local council. If no details about location are known (eg: an advertisement only includes a mobile phone number), you can make your report to the Dog and Cat Management Board at 8124 4962.

If you have animal welfare concerns in relation to any breeder (registered or not), you can call the RSPCA Hotline – 1300 477 722


The Dog and Cat Management Act is enforced by your local council. Please contact them if you have any concerns. 

Useful links:

New industry standards and guidelines for breeders and sellers

Find out more about DACO (Dogs and Cats Online)