Reporting animal cruelty

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

The first step to improving animal welfare in Australia is making sure animal cruelty is reported.

Reporting animal cruelty is important to help an animal at risk, to alert law enforcement agencies to incidents so they can be investigated, to document a pattern of behaviour for repeat offenders, and to prevent future violence to animals.

This page discusses when to call, who to call, what information to report, and how the complaint will be handled.

Who will receive a complaint?

Suspected cruelty

If you believe that someone has, or is about to, cause harm to, mistreat or be cruel to an animal, you should contact the RSPCA to report it. To report your complaint, complete the RSPCA online complaints form or call the RSPCA on +61 (0)8 9209 9300 or 1300 278 3589 (emergencies only).

To ensure a coordinated approach to animal cruelty reports, the RSPCA is the agreed single point for all public reports of cruelty to animals. The RSPCA may refer some reports of cruelty in relation to commercial animals to the Livestock Compliance Unit (LCU) for appropriate follow-up.

All complaints regarding the scientific use of animals will be referred to the Scientific Licencing Unit of DAFWA.

Welfare concerns with the scientific use of animals

Welfare concerns regarding the scientific use of animals should be referred to the Scientific Licencing Unit of DAFWA on +61 (0)8 9363 4052.

Welfare concerns involving animals where public safety may be at risk

In the case of road accidents and other incidents involving animals where public safety may be at risk, call the WA Police on 131 444.

Animal welfare concerns, other than acts of cruelty

For complaints regarding animal welfare, other than cruelty, such as wandering or abandoned animals please contact your local government authority to confirm whether or not it will deal with your complaint. If you are unsure which local council you fall under, visit the WA Local Government Association and type in your address.

Animal welfare of native animals, other than acts of cruelty

For complaints regarding animal welfare of native animals, other than acts of cruelty, please contact the Department of Parks and Wildlife on +61 (0)8 9219 9000.

If you find a sick or injured native animal, call WILDCARE +61 (0)8 9474 9055 (24-hour service).

When to call

Acts which could be the subject of a complaint of cruelty against an animal include (but are not limited to) the following examples:

  • animals which are abused
  • animals which are abandoned or neglected
  • animals suffering from sickness or an injury that are left untreated
  • animals which are not provided with adequate and appropriate food and water
  • animals trapped in jawed traps
  • animals in immediate danger of death or harm, for example locked in a hot car
  • animals which are used in an illegal activity, for example dog or cock fighting
  • animals which have been intentionally poisoned
  • animals that are not provided with adequate shelter and protection.

Information needed when you make a complaint

  • Your name, address and telephone number — these details are required so that an inspector can contact you for further information. Your name and contact details will be kept confidential. If the complaint leads to a prosecution, a court may require that you be identified.
  • The location of the animal/s — if this is at a fixed location you need to provide address details. If the animals are located within a vehicle, you will need to provide the location of the vehicle, the registration details and a description of the vehicle.
  • The reason for the complaint — you will need to provide information about the type and number of animals involved, the problem and a description of the condition of the animal/s.
  • The time and date of the alleged cruelty — you will need to provide details of the date and time that you became aware of the problem.
  • The details of people involved — if you know the name, address and contact details of the animal's owner or the person/s involved, those details should be provided. If the information is not known to you, a description of the person or people involved should be provided.
  • Any other information — other information may be of assistance to the inspector investigating the complaint, for example, information regarding the presence of potentially dangerous dogs at the location and information that a person involved may become abusive or violent.

Please be aware that it is an offence under the Act to knowingly provide false or misleading information to an inspector or a person assisting an inspector.

Responding to complaints

In responding to a complaint, the RSPCA and DAFWA’s Livestock Compliance Unit aim to ensure that:

  • the welfare of the animal/s involved remains a priority
  • the complaints are dealt with consistently and in a timely manner
  • inspectors conduct themselves in a professional and courteous manner
  • the responsibility for the care of the animal/s remains with the owner or person in charge where appropriate.

In any response to a complaint or investigation, the personal safety of the inspector and members of the public remains a priority at all times.

Compliance, enforcement and prosecution policy

DAFWA's Compliance, Enforcement and Prosecution Policy provides guiding principles to DAFWA inspectors in relation to the application of enforcement measures, including the prosecution of an offence. The policy can be found in the documents list on the right of this page.

What will happen after I make a complaint?

Complaints are investigated by inspectors of either the RSPCA or DAFWA’s Livestock Compliance Unit, depending on the circumstances. An inspector will investigate the complaint and may need to contact the complainant for more information.

The inspector will determine on the available evidence whether an offence under animal welfare legislation is likely to have occurred or not. The inspector will then make a decision on the action to be taken, based on his or her findings. Inspectors have the power to take the following actions:

  • Take no further action — the inspector may find that an offence has not occurred and/or appropriate action is being taken to address the welfare issues in relation to the animal/s.
  • Provide education — an inspector may provide education or advice on the appropriate care of the animal/s.
  • Issue a direction notice — the inspector will issue a formal written direction to a person requiring that person to do specific things within a specified time to rectify animal welfare problem/s. The inspector will check to ensure the direction has been followed. It is an offence to not follow a lawful direction. A direction given by a general inspector may be reviewable. For more information on reviewable decisions visit our webpage on reviewable decisions.
  • Removal of animals — the inspector may decide that an animal should be seized and removed from its present situation to protect the welfare, health and safety of the animal. An inspector who seizes an animal must ensure that it is properly treated and cared for.
  • Collect evidence to prosecute an offence — the inspector may decide that an offence has occurred. The inspector will collect evidence for a prosecution case. This may lead to a person or persons being charged with an offence and the matter proceeding to court.

Contact information

Scientific Licensing
Page last updated: Wednesday, 19 April 2017 - 4:27pm