Animal Welfare Act 2002

Page last updated: Monday, 4 February 2019 - 2:19pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

The Animal Welfare Act 2002 (the Act) and its accompanying regulations provide the legal framework for ensuring that all animals in Western Australia have appropriate standards of care.

About the Act

For a copy of the Animal Welfare Act 2002 please visit the Parliamentary Counsel's Office website.

The Act intends to:

  • promote and protect the welfare, safety and health of animals
  • ensure the proper and humane care and management of all animals in accordance with generally accepted standards
  • reflect the community’s expectation that people who are in charge of animals will ensure that they are properly treated and cared for.

The Act is set out in 6 parts:

  • Part 1 – Preliminary, outlines the purpose and intent of the Act and definitions.
  • Part 2 – Use of animals for scientific purposes, provides for the scientific use of animals.
  • Part 3 – Offences against animals broadly sets out the cruelty provisions and defences, possession of things intended to inflict cruelty and shooting, hunting or fighting captive animals.
  • Part 4 – Inspectors, provides for the appointment of inspectors, the functions and powers of inspectors and additional powers specifically applicable to scientific inspectors.
  • Part 5 – Enforcement, provides for the application of additional court orders, warrants, infringement notices, reviewable decisions, offences other than cruelty and general matters.
  • Part 6 – Miscellaneous, provides for a range of other matters such as delegation, powers of the CEO, improper use of information and regulation making powers.

Subsidiary legislation under the Act consists of 4 sets of regulations:

Types of animals covered by the Animal Welfare Act

Animals are defined in the Act as:

  • a live vertebrate, or
  • a live invertebrate of a prescribed kind, (there are no invertebrates prescribed)

other than a human or a fish (as defined in the Fish Resources Management Act 1994)

The Fish Resources Management Act 1994 defines a fish as an aquatic organism of any species (whether alive or dead) and includes —

  1. the eggs, spat, spawn, seeds, spores, fry, larva or other source of reproduction or offspring of an aquatic organism; and
  2. a part only of an aquatic organism (including the shell or tail); and
  3. live rock and live sand,

but does not include aquatic mammals, aquatic reptiles, aquatic birds, amphibians or pearl oysters

Therefore the Act, encompasses all live amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals other than humans. This includes companion animals, native animals, livestock, animals in zoos and animals used for research and teaching but does not extend to invertebrates (for example, insects, cephalopods, crustaceans) or fish.

Animal welfare for fish, cephalopods and invertebrates

The Fish Resources Management Act 1994 (FRMA) has regulation making powers to regulate animal welfare for fish (as defined by the FRMA). There are currently no regulations under the FRMA concerning animal welfare of fish.


Contact information

Animal Welfare General Enquiries