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The Law & You

As well as complying with Dogs Victoria’s Constitution, Rules and various Regulations, Codes, Policies & Procedures, members must also be aware of their responsibilities under state and local laws. While these laws apply to all dog breeders, Dogs Victoria members are required to comply with all codes, regulations and laws as a condition of membership. Failure to do so may result in the suspension or expulsion from Dogs Victoria.

State Legislation
Dog owners in Victoria must comply with:

  • The Domestic Animals Act 1994
  • The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986
  • The Code of Practice for the Private Keeping of Dogs

These laws and your local council by-laws will relate to minimum standards in the keeping of dogs, animal welfare and the prevention of cruelty, the number of dogs you may have on your property, their registration requirements and the maximum number of fertile female dogs that can be kept.

Dogs Victoria members who are registered breeders must comply with these and other laws relating to breeding and keeping to dogs, regardless of how often you breed. These include:

  • The Domestic Animals Act 1994 s5A Applicable organisations and recognised organisations
  • Code of Practice for the Breeding of Animals with Heritable Defects that Cause Disease

Dogs Victoria members who have 10 or more fertile female dogs, are required to register as Domestic Animal Businesses under Victorian law and comply with Victorian Code of Practice for the Operation of Breeding and Rearing Establishments.

Domestic Animal Businesses (DABs) operate under various Acts:

  • Domestic Animals Act 1994 s3 Definitions - domestic animal business
  • Domestic Animals Act 1994 Part 4 Registration and conduct of Domestic Animal Business

While Dogs Victoria members may be DABs, it should be noted that Dogs Victoria regulations prohibit the commercial breeding of dogs by members.

For more information on State laws see or the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources website at Members may also contact Dogs Victoria for assistance or advice on legislative issues.

Local Laws

As Dogs Victoria holds Applicable Organisation status, Dogs Victoria members are entitled to certain exemptions and discounted fees under local government local laws. These are:

  • Discounted annual registration fees (due in April each year)
  • Exemptions from mandatory desexing regulations

Each local government council or shire will have its own Domestic Animal Management Plan (DAMP), which cover issues such as:

  • Numbers of dogs permitted in different land zones in that council area
  • The requirements, processes and costs for excess animal permits
  • Regulations around animal waste and its disposal
  • Regulations around animal nuisance (barking, wandering, acts of aggression)
  • Define areas in that are on-leash, off-leash and dog-free and times dogs may be in dog areas

Dogs Victoria members should be familiar with their local council or shire’s DAMP. It is a condition of membership that Dogs Victoria members comply with the relevant local laws and ordinances for their area.

As each local government area will have its own regulations on the use of land for the purposes of breeding, Dogs Victoria members are advised to contact their local councils for further information. Dogs Victoria members should be aware that their local councils may inspect their premises to ensure that the all permits and requirements for the keeping (and if appropriate, breeding) of dogs are being met. Animal inspectors are empowered to act as per the appropriate state and local laws.

For more information on local laws please contact Dogs Victoria.

Prohibited Procedures on dogs

Victoria has legislation that prohibits a number of cosmetic procedures being carried out on dogs. These are:

  • ear cropping
  • debarking
  • tail docking

Victoria law only allows prohibited procedures to be performed in Victoria by a registered veterinary practitioner for therapeutic reasons or, in the case of debarking, in accordance with the code of practice for the debarking of dogs.

It is an offence for any other person to conduct a prohibited procedure on an animal (with penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment of 12 months).

At the same time as the prohibited procedures offence was introduced, two new offences relating to prohibited procedures were also introduced into the Act.

These related offences state that:

  • the owner or person in charge of an animal must not allow a prohibited procedure to be conducted on an animal; and
  • the owner or person in charge of an animal cannot show or exhibit an animal, or allow an animal to be shown or exhibited, where the animal has had a prohibited procedure conducted illegally on it.

The legislation provides exemptions for the showing or exhibiting of a dog that has had a prohibited procedure if that dog is from other Australian states and territories or imported and the procedure was legally performed.

If the procedure was carried out on the dog in Australia, a veterinary certificate stating that the procedure was done in accordance with the law of the relevant jurisdiction is required to allow the animal to be shown.

For imported dogs, the importation or supporting documentation needs to show that the procedure was undertaken prior to importation and that it was done legally according to the laws of the jurisdiction in which the procedure was carried out.

Dogs that were born, or have resided in Victoria, and have been to be taken into another state or territory to have a procedure conducted on them to avoid Victoria's legislation will not be permitted to be shown or exhibited. The exemption to this are dogs that have been tail docked, debarked or ear cropped prior to 12 December 2007.

Further information and details of these provisions are detailed in the Frequently Asked Questions section on Prohibited Procedures webpage on the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources website.

Dogs with a Natural Bob Tail

Dogs with natural bob tails do not fall under the provisions of Clause 82 of the new Act. Members of Dogs Victoria that own a registered dog with a veterinary confirmed Natural Bob Tail or those whose tails were shortened prior to the enactment of the legislation can apply for an ID card that can be carried in a wallet or purse so that you have it available at all times when out and about with your dog. The application for this form can be found at Members Forms.

Other laws that Dogs Victoria members should be aware of

There are also Regulations and Codes that relate to:

The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources website also outlines guidelines for:

  • Dogs in moving vehicles
  • Dog confinement
  • Dog excrement
  • Microchipping and registration
  • Animal welfare and responsible dog ownership

For more information please contact Dogs Victoria.

Codes affecting those that are involved in fostering and rehoming of dogs

Many affiliated breed clubs and Dogs Victoria members are involved in the fostering and rehoming of dogs.

There are codes of practice and guidelines that apply to the fostering and rehoming of dogs which members and breed clubs should be aware of.

These are:

  • Code of Practice for the Management of Dogs and Cats in Shelters and Pounds - this is made under the provisions of Section 5a of Division 4 of the Domestic Animals Act 1994. It covers the handling, treatment and care of animals along with transport vehicles and animal housing.
  • Guide for Victorian Dog and Cat Community foster care networks and rescue groups - this provides with guidance on meeting minimum legislative requirements and maximising the welfare of domestic animals being cared for and rehomed.

The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources webpage provides a general explanation of the legislation relating to animal rescue. However, is not an exact replica of the legislation and should not be used for legal purposes. Members and breed clubs involved in fostering and rehoming are advised to be familiar with the relevant legislation and regulations relating to animal rescue.

Other legal matters

While this page provides information and links in relation to the care, breeding and welfare of dogs, Dogs Victoria members should be aware of other legislation, regulations and guidelines that may be of relevance, such as around:

  • The selling of an animal and ownership rights
  • Contracts and the enforceable, legal obligations of the buyer and seller
  • Health guarantees and veterinary checks
  • Returns of pups or dogs to the breeder
  • Renting with pets
  • Body corporate regulations around pets

While Dogs Victoria may be able to provide general guidance on these matters members are advised that they should obtain expert legal advice for specific issues or problems.

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