Parliament has recently introduced the Cat Act 2011. The Act gives local governments significant powers and responsibilities in relation to the regulation and management of domestic cats within their districts.
The purpose of the Act is to provide for the control and management of cats and to promote and encourage responsible cat ownership. Ultimately, it is expected that the measures introduced under the Act will reduce the large number of stray cats euthanised each year and provide for better management of the unwanted impacts of cats on the community and environment.
Whilst legislative control of domestic cats is currently facilitated through the adoption of local laws by local governments, Parliament reports that only around 13 per cent of all local governments have introduced local cat control laws. Given the potential for inconsistency in local laws, and a feeling that current measures were not the appropriate legislative instrument for all aspects of cat regulation, it was felt that cat control needed to be dealt with by State legislation.
The key features of the Act provide for:
all cats that have reached 6 months of age to be microchipped, sterilised and registered with the local government where they are usually kept;
all cats to be microchipped and sterilised prior to transfer (i.e. sale);
local governments to administer and enforce the provisions of the Act;
local governments to be able to seize cats; and
local governments to create local laws for the control of cats within their district.
There will be a phased introduction of the Act, to allow time for local governments and the public to prepare for its introduction.
Phase 1 of the legislation will take effect from 1 November 2012 and includes ‘housekeeping’ aspects of Act, such as the procedure to be followed by local governments when registering a cat.
Phase 2 will take effect 1 November 2013 and includes the ‘actionable’ aspects, such as the requirement to microchip, sterilise and register.
We will provide detailed analysis of the ‘actionable’ provisions of the Act closer to their commencement.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
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