Animal welfare roles and responsibilities

Page last updated: Thursday, 22 February 2018 - 3:06pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

There are a number of agencies and organisations that have roles and responsibilities in administering and enforcing the Animal Welfare Act 2002 (the Act). These include the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA), the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Western Australia (RSPCA), local government rangers and the WA Police.

Roles and responsibilities of DPIRD

Role of DPIRD

DPIRD is the department of the Public Service assisting the Minster for Agriculture and Food in the administration of the Act.  Inspectors have authority under the Act to investigate complaints of animal cruelty and undertake a range of compliance and enforcement actions.

DPIRD also contributes to the development of animal welfare policies and standards and raises awareness among industry to facilitate compliance with animal welfare legislation and improved animal welfare outcomes for livestock.

The Animal Welfare Regulation project within DPIRD’s Biosecurity and Regulation directorate is responsible for all administrative, compliance and enforcement issues related to the Act.

Responsibilities of the Animal Welfare Regulation project include

  • providing advice to the Minister and other stakeholders in relation to the Act
  • administering animal welfare legislation
  • promoting compliance with the Act
  • animal welfare monitoring at livestock aggregation points across all levels of the livestock supply chain (for example, saleyards, feedlots, abattoirs, knackeries and ports)
  • investigating reports of cruelty to livestock referred by the RSPCA or from agricultural industry
  • conducting compliance and enforcement actions, including prosecution where appropriate
  • providing extension and education in relation to animal welfare legislation
  • licensing institutions that use or supply animals for scientific purposes
  • monitoring scientific licensees for compliance with the Act.

Responsibilities of DPIRD includes

  • providing policy advice to the Minister and other stakeholders in relation to livestock welfare
  • contributing to the development of state and national animal welfare policies
  • participating in the development of national animal welfare standards
  • consulting with local industry and other stakeholders on livestock welfare policies
  • providing information to livestock owners and handlers with the aim of improving animal welfare
  • playing a key role in animal welfare policy and the development of national standards and guidelines
  • appointing inspectors under the Act.

Roles and Responsibilities of RSPCA, Local Government and State Government inspectors and WA Police

Roles and responsibilities of RSPCA

The RSPCA WA takes the lead in the area of companion animal welfare. The RSPCA general inspectors work with DPIRD in the area of compliance and enforcement. The Western Australian Government supports the RSPCA in its work pursuing companion animal welfare compliance and responsible pet ownership through a funding grant of $500,000 per year.

The RSPCA's general inspectors enforcement and compliance responsibilities include:

  • receiving and investigating complaints of animal cruelty
  • undertaking inspections and other compliance activities for non-commercial livestock and companion animals
  • educating members of the public on responsible pet ownership practices
  • conducting enforcement activities, including prosecution where appropriate.

DPIRD acknowledges that the RSPCA may have or advocate policies that differ from those of the Western Australian Government. However, the RSPCA separates their compliance and enforcement role and policies from their other policies.

Roles and responsibilities of Local Government and State Government inspectors and WA Police

Some local government rangers are appointed as general inspectors under the Act and, depending on their location, may investigate animal welfare matters related to both companion animals and livestock. General inspectors employed by DBCA only deal with welfare issues related to native animals.

General inspectors who are employed by a local government have all the powers of a general inspector but are limited by the Act in the following ways:

  • the person is only a general inspector for the district of the employing local government
  • the person may only exercise their powers of an inspector outside of their district where:
    • it relates to an offence reasonably suspected to have been committed in the inspector’s district
    • the local government of the area has authorised the inspector to exercise their power in the district, or
    • the inspector considers the situation to be an emergency.

All WA police officers have the powers of a general inspector and exercise those powers as appropriate.