Complaints regarding cruelty to animals

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act commenced in NSW in 1979.  The objects of the Act are to prevent cruelty to animals, and to promote the welfare of animals by requiring a person in charge of an animal to provide care for the animal, to treat the animal in a humane manner, and to ensure the welfare of the animal.

Who will take a complaint about animal cruelty?

If you suspect or witness cruelty to an animal, you should directly contact one of the enforcement agencies.

These agencies are:

The NSW Department of Primary Industries is responsible for administering the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, but officers of the NSW Department of Primary Industries do not have powers of enforcement.

What information is needed to make a complaint?

Your name, address and telephone number. This information will be kept in the strictest confidence, however, it is required to investigate a complaint.  Further, the investigating officer may need to contact you to verify details of the complaint.

The location of the animals. If this is at a fixed location, you will need to provide the address details.  If the animals are located on or within a vehicle, you will need to provide the registration details, and a description of the vehicle.

The people involved.  If you have the information, the name and phone number of the person/s involved in the offence will be taken.  If not, a clear description of all people involved should be provided.

Your concern about the animals. You need to provide information about the type and number of animals involved, the problem, and as much detail as possible about the animals condition.

Time and date of the alleged offence. You will need to advise of the date and time when you noticed the problem.

Any other information. If you are aware of any information which will help the inspector to investigate the complaint, for example if there are savage dogs, if the people involved are known to be violent, or the names and addresses of other witnesses to the cruelty.

Please be aware that providing false or misleading information is an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

What is animal cruelty?

Examples of cruel acts which could form the basis of a complaint are:

  • Animals which are exposed to extreme heat or cold (eg animals left in cars), or which are not adequately sheltered.
  • Animals which are suffering from hunger or thirst.
  • Animals which are hurt or abused.
  • Animals which are left untreated following an injury or illness.
  • Animals which are abandoned or which do not receive regular care.
  • Animals for which their environment is not suited to their needs through size, breed, infirmity etc.
  • Animals which are used to perform an illegal activity, eg where dogs or game cocks are encouraged to fight each other.

What will happen after I make my complaint?

An inspector will investigate the complaint, and make a decision based on the evidence he/she can find as to what will be done.

The inspector may take one or more of the following actions:

  • provide advice on appropriate care
  • officially warn the person/s
  • issue directions to the owner to address welfare issues
  • issue an infringement notice
  • collect evidence to begin a prosecution
  • seize the animal/s

The inspector may then re-visit to ensure that directions or advice have been followed, and if they have not, may elect to take other action.