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  • Animal Cruelty Offences and Penalties in Tasmania

    An animal under our care, management or control in Tasmania must remain under the standard treatments stipulated by the Animal Welfare Act 1993 (Tas). The Act further defines and prescribes the proper treatments and other conditions animal owners must abide by.

    For all matters under this case, animals include;

    • Domestic animals,
    • Pets,
    • Commercial animals,
    • And all other live vertebrates except for humans.

    All actions contrary to the laws and descriptions in the Animal Welfare Act 1993 (Tas) may receive punishments that amount to imprisonment term depending on the gravity of the offence.

    Furthermore, the animals under this section include all those under a person's possession.

    If an individual is convicted in a Tasmanian court for an animal cruelty offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a national police history check in Tasmania.

    The offence will be disclosed on a criminal history check in accordance with the Spent Convictions Scheme in Tasmania.

    What are the types of Animal Cruelty offences?

    The law of Tasmania prohibits all forms of cruelty against an animal, especially as the owner. The Animal Cruelty Act prescribes punishments for such offenders, which may amount to up to 5 years imprisonment depending on the offence.


    1. Common Animal Cruelty

    Any form of neglect, violence or aggression towards an animal is considered an offence under section 8 of the Animal Welfare Act 1993 (Tas). If the owner or the offender is found guilty in court, the punishment can get as high as 12 months imprisonment with 100 penalty units or both.

    However, if the offender were a corporate body, the penalty would rise to 500 penalty units in fines.

    Section 8 lists forms of animal cruelty to include;

    • Wounding, Mutilating, Torturing, Overworking, Overburdening, Tormenting, Scaring the animal.
    • Overcrowding, suffocating the animal
    • Leading it through unjustifiable and physical pain
    • Working, driving, inappropriately riding the animal or when it is unfit for such task
    • Failing to provide the necessary care for the animal when it gets injured or sick. This part refers to veterinary medicine or an expert in animal care
    • Using the animal for a sport or purpose, they are unfit for
    • Illegally engaging the animal in an animal fight
    • Using an electronic device or metal to threaten or “train” the animal
    • Abandoning a domestic animal to fend for itself or locked up in a cage
    • Illegally testing drugs or other substances on the animals, and so on.

    Matters related to animal cruelty are usually inexhaustible; most times, the court may have to use its discretion to rule an act as aggression towards an animal.

    For some instances of animal cruelty or where the court considers the person unfit to manage the animal, it may grant a separation from the owner.


    1. Aggravated Cruelty

    Many actions can cause a case of animal cruelty to become aggravating, as described in section 9 of the Act. It includes cases where the defendant omits to do a task or role that results in;

    • Permanent injury to the animal, including a severe disablement of the animal
    • Life-threatening injury or damage to body parts
    • Death or quasi lifeless state of the animal.

    It includes where the offender has committed any of these acts willingly or recklessly relating to the animal's health.

    The Act stipulates punishments up to 200 penalty units, 60 months imprisonment, or both for this offence. The penalty issued is commensurate on the severity of the offence. If it is a corporate body, the offence can attract 1000 penalty units in fines.

    The court does not consider that the offender euthanised (mercy killing) the animal before the full extent of the injury is felt. For example, a person injects their pet cat with a chemical for an illegal experience, and it causes the cat damage to the guts. It will not be a defence in court that the owner euthanised the cat even before the animal begins to feel the pain of the injury.


    1. Using an animal to train other animals

    Section 11 prohibits all acts where an animal is used for the sole aim of training another animal. This section criminalises the Act, especially in cases where that animal is likely to suffer unjustifiable pains.

    It is an offence to be in any the chains or activities leading to such offence, including;

    • Sale of the animal,
    • Supply,
    • Transport of the animal,
    • Organising such training

    Section 11 of the Act prescribes 100 penalty units in fines and 12 months imprisonment, depending on the case. However, if a corporate body was involved, the court may increase it to 500 penalty units.


    1. Baiting and shooting an Animal in Tasmania

    It is an offence under Tasmania laws to unnecessarily put an animal in a scary or irregular position or task. It includes all conditions where the animal is used as bait, fight, to kill or injure any other animal or object along its path.

    Section 10 of the Act describes it as an offence for owners/managers/ carers of an animal that subject it to any of these acts. If the person is found guilty, the court stipulates 200 penalty units in fines or 12 months imprisonment. A corporate body involved, the court may increase the penalty to 1000 penalty units.


    1. Rodeos

    The Animal Welfare Act 1993 (Tas) under Section 11A mandates anyone who must partake in a rodeo to abide by the Code of Practice for rodeos, including any prescribed requirements. It is safer to attend a rodeo where the vet surgeon is in attendance, and the events involve animals.

    The law prohibits all rodeos that involve riding a sheep, Calve or Goat. The court can find you guilty of such an offence whether you organised it or attended such a ceremony.

    The court can impose up to 50 penalty units in fine or up to 12 months imprisonment.

    However, where the offender is a corporate body, the penalties usually reach 250 penalty units.


    1. Obstruction of officers who inspect animal welfare

    It is an offence to cause any action or permit any motives that cause hindrance to officers who inspect for animal welfare. Section 41 describes this offence as where the accused threatens, injures, abuses or impersonates an officer on the line of duty.

    The Tasmanian law allows the Minister for Animal Biosecurity and Welfare to appoint officers to enforce or supervise these laws.

    Within the legislation, the officer must protect, instruct, admonish, secure the welfare and investigate persons in charge of animals.


    1. Carrying out research on an animal in Tasmania

    It can be considered animal cruelty for an unlicensed person to carry out research on an animal under their care. It can get aggravating by the case that such research leads to injury, damage or obstruction to the functions of that animal.

    Section 27 of the Animal Welfare Act 1993 lists it as an offence that carries;

    • 100 penalty units in fines or 12 months imprisonment,
    • And 500 penalty units if a corporate body was involved in the offence.

    1. Offences in Management of animals

    The legislation considers it an offence for a person to use a method contrary to those specified to manage or care for the animal. Section 7 of the Act also covers cases where the person has caused the animal unreasonable or unjustifiable pain.

    If a corporate body is found guilty for such an offence, it will receive fines reaching 500 penalty units.

    Or else, a guilty individual will get fines of 100 penalty units or a 12 months imprisonment term.


    1. Animal Traps in Tasmania

    The use of traps must be a regulated activity within Tasmania territories, and it is an offence to lay traps indiscriminately. Section 12 that cautions the use of traps lists the following types of traps that contradict this law;

    • Leghold trap,
    • Glue board trap,
    • Snare,
    • Or any other detrimental traps.

    These traps should only be used where the person has gotten the minister's permission.

    The court finds a person guilty of this offence; it can impose up to 100 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment. The fines can go up to 500 penalty units where the offender is a corporate body.

    What is the duty of care?

    Section 6 of the Act describes the responsibilities and roles of a person in charge of/caring for an animal. It includes all reasonable measures the person must take to ensure the safety of their animals.

    This duty of care binds every individual if they fall under any of these categories;

    • The owner of the animal
    • Controlling or in possession of the animal
    • They are an operator or Caretaker of the commercial enterprise involving the animal
    • Share farmers
    • A director or Executive officer in the company that owns the animal.

    Changes in The Animal Cruelty laws

    Tasmania regards animals as essential parts of the ecosystem and human existence and constantly reviews laws concerning them. It is possible for an offender relating to an animal cruelty matter to get a prison sentence.

    Also, if such offender is a corporation, they can get as much as five times the original sentencing for offenders.

    Wrapping Up

    The Animal Welfare Act 1993 (Tas) summarises that most animals are dependent creatures. It is often an offence to neglect or abandon an animal, denying it its basic dependency need.

    The Act mandates all animal owners to provide adequate food, water and shelter.

    Will a Animal Cruelty Offence in Tasmania show up on a national criminal record check?

    If an individual is found guilty of an animal cruelty offence in Tasmania, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on the results of their criminal record check.

    Individuals can obtain a criminal background check online via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.

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