Who enforces the Animal Welfare Act?
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) is the department of the public service assisting the Minister for Agriculture and Food in the administration of the Act.
The enforcement of the Act is divided into two key parts:
- General inspectors enforce the provisions concerning offences against animals (including cruelty against animals) contained in Part 3 of the Act.
- Scientific inspectors enforce the provisions concerning the use of animals for scientific purposes under a licence contained in Part 2 of the Act. For more information on scientific inspectors, visit the scientific purposes webpage.
A general inspector and a scientific inspector have different powers and functions under the Act.
The enforcement of the provisions concerning offences against animals in Part 3 of the Act is primarily conducted by general Inspectors from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Western Australia (Incorporated) (RSPCA) and the Livestock Compliance Unit (LCU) within DPIRD's Animal Welfare Regulation project. General inspectors of both organisations investigate complaints of cruelty against animals and carry out a range of compliance and enforcement actions.
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.
In addition, members of the staff of the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) and local governments have been appointed as general inspectors. All WA Police officers have the powers of a general inspector.
RSPCA general inspectors
The RSPCA general inspectors' enforcement and compliance responsibilities under the Act 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.
Livestock Compliance Unit
The LCU's enforcement and compliance responsibilities under the Act relate to commercial livestock and include the following:
- 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
- conducting compliance and enforcement actions, including prosecution where appropriate
- providing extension and education in relation to animal livestock.