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Western Australia considers animal cruelty to be an offence in all circumstances. Since most domestic animals depend on humans for their living and survival, it is an offence to maltreat any such animals under the person’s care.
All animal cruelty matters and neglects falls under the Animal Welfare Act 2002 (WA). Also, the RSPCA and Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development can investigate, inspect and manage all matters regarding Animal cruelty offences in WA.
If an individual is convicted in a WA court for an animal cruelty offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a national police history check in WA.
The offence will be disclosed on a criminal history check in accordance with the Spent Convictions Scheme in WA.
In WA, Animal Cruelty is a severe offence that incurs severe fines, and in some cases, punishments reaching up to 5 years imprisonment.
All forms of actions that result in detriments to animals or their means of living are considered Animal Cruelty under section 19 of the Animal Welfare Act 2002 (WA). There are various acts or activities from non-commission that result in animal cruelty, which includes;
Animal Cruelty does not only consist of physical injury to the animal. A person would also be guilty of animal cruelty if they;
For this offence, the court can following the Act issue penalties up to;
$50,000 and a five years imprisonment term
The court cannot issue less than $2,000 for such an offence.
It is an offence under section 31 to possess equipment or material with the intent of inflicting Cruelty on the animal. The Act prescribes penalties up to $20,000 in fines or one-year imprisonment for this offence.
The Animal Welfare Act also prevents all hunting or fighting captive animals. This offence includes all cases where the person spectates, promotes, organises, promotes or allows such prohibited activity to occur within the premises.
For this offence, the prohibited activities include;
A person cannot use an animal for a scientific purpose except on strict approval from the;
For such offences, the court imposes a penalty of up to $50,000 and a five years imprisonment.
It is also an offence to perform such scientific purposes on the animal outside of a licensed place. Conducting scientific research outside of a permitted area attracts the Penalty of $50,000 and a 5-year imprisonment.
Section 7 of the Act is an offence for a person to carry on a company that delivers an animal for scientific purposes. The court stipulates penalties up to $50,000 or a five-year imprisonment term for such offences.
Suppose the court feels the stipulated penalties are inappropriate for the offence, or the matter requires special attention. In that case, it may impose other orders like a post mortem on the animal. For this case, the court will order a State veterinary Surgeon to carry out a post-mortem.
When it is complete, the veterinarian must make such results available to the court, prosecutor and alleged offender.
Where the court deems it necessary, it will impose any further sanctions on the offenders relating to the offence. Section 55 of the Act allows the court to set reasonable and special penalties for "extraordinary” cases of Animal welfare violation.
Some of these court orders include;
Order that the animal or other animals in the offender's care be removed or treated under the Biodiversity Conservation department;
The court considers it an offence not to surrender a revoked license within seven days. If the Minister cannot lay hold of the permit at that period, the person is guilty of an offence that carries a $2,000 penalty.
If the court makes a particular order against a person regarding an animal welfare offence, the offender must adhere to all conditions. The offence of refusing a particular court order carries a penalty of $20,000 or 1-year imprisonment.
The Animal welfare act also further proffer defences to the charges of Violations against Animal welfare. The court can accept these few defences only where they apply to the Charge of Animal cruelty through sections 19 to 31 of the Animal Welfare Act 2002 (WA).
Pests are insufferable and stubborn towards farming and living. However, the Animal Acts and legislations in WA provide acceptable means to deal with them. Section 24 provides a means of defence for the accused if the act was an ill-fated attempt to kill a pest.
However, the accused must prove that they employed generally acceptable standards and means to ensure only Pests are harmed. The Animal laws of WA also gives explicit details about what constitutes a Pest in WA.
Section 20 provides an escape for a defendant if they were acting out of self-defence or preservation. However, they must prove to the court how the act of Cruelty was reasonably a self-defence mechanism at the time of the offence.
Furthermore, it does not count as self-defence if the accused was involved in the act of Cruelty at the time. Also, an argument of self-defence will not hold if the person provoked the animal to attack
An act of Cruelty can be dismissed under veterinary care if at the time;
The accused will have to prove and show evidence that veterinary principles approve the manner and methods used. Section 21 of the Act provides more details and aids for using veterinary care as a defence for an Animal cruelty offence.
Section 25 provides the code of practice of licensed and regulated bodies as a defence for Animal related offences. For example, a person acting under the Code of Practice for Welfare of Animals Livestock at Slaughtering Establishments is not guilty of animal cruelty offences.
Section 22 of the Act would exonerate a person from a charge of animal cruelty if they acted according to the law. It includes all licensed and legal inspectors and other members of an Animal welfare board.
Also, they must prove that they carried out such an act humanely and legally.
Section 23 provides a defence to the charge of animal cruelty of the act was carried out within acceptable principles of Animal husbandry. The accused should also prove that the action was humane and legal under the jurisdiction.
Section 26 gives the defence of where the accused only allowed the animal to roam in a large and conducive property to fend. The person must also prove that such land/property is conducive and bears no potential ill to an animal.
Section 27 lists releasing the animal to the wild as a defence only where it is proven that such movement would not have affected the animal.
Western Australian laws forbid the use of an animal for scientific studies unless within the confines of the Animal Welfare Act. The Animal Welfare (Scientific Purposes) Regulations 2003 must also issue a license to that operation.
If an individual is found guilty of an animal cruelty offence in WA, 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.
Animal Welfare Act 2002 (WA) - https://www.legislation.wa.gov.au/legislation/statutes.nsf/main_mrtitle_50_homepage.html
Animal Welfare (Scientific Purposes) Regulations 2003 (WA) - https://www.legislation.wa.gov.au/legislation/statutes.nsf/main_mrtitle_1139_homepage.html
RSPCA Western Australia (Animal Welfare Legislation) - https://www.rspcawa.org.au/animal-welfare-legislation
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