Environment SA News

Tougher penalties proposed for animal cruelty

People who mistreat animals face tougher penalties including fines of up to $250,000 or 10 years jail as part of the State Government’s commitment to strengthen the Animal Welfare Act.

Tougher penalties proposed for animal cruelty

Penalties would significantly increase on the current $50,000 maximum fine or four years in jail for the aggravated ill-treatment of an animal.

Corporations found guilty of mistreating animals would risk fines of up to $1 million as part of reforms to the Act, which was last updated in 2008.

The proposed changes, which have been released for community consultation, also include a new ‘duty of care’ provision that requires owners to provide animals with a minimum level of care, such as adequate food and water.

This provision aims to create opportunities for authorities to address neglect prior to an animal being harmed.

While recreational and commercial fishing remain unaffected by the changes, South Australia would recognise fish as animals under the Act, joining most other states. This is designed to stop deliberate cruelty, such as cutting the fins off live sharks.

There are also changes to recognise interstate animal cruelty bans so offenders can’t just move to SA and, for example, set up a breeding kennel.

The reforms deliver on a State Government commitment to review the Animal Welfare Act to reflect changing community expectations around animal protections.

Other proposed changes to the Act include:

  • recognising that animals experience pain and fear
  • Improving regulation, oversight and transparency of animal research
  • Updating the governance and role of the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee

Department for Environment and Water Conservation and Wildlife Director Lisien Loan said whether you had pets at home, work in the agriculture sector or simply appreciate our unique and vibrant native species – animal welfare is an important subject to many of us.

"Since the Act was first introduced in 1985, our understanding of and expectations for animal welfare has evolved significantly," Ms Loan said.

"Now is a timely opportunity to hear from the community around the proposed reforms that aim to lift the standards of how we treat animals in South Australia."

More than 1000 people helped inform the proposed reforms via community consultation undertaken in 2023.

People can now have their say on the proposed changes to the Act via YourSAy at: https://yoursay.sa.gov.au/anim...

Submissions close Sunday, 26 May 2024. The final Bill will be tabled in parliament later this year.