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Don't feel like walking your dog today? Face hefty fine under strict new law

Cat and dog sitting together © Pixabay

The ACT (Australian Capital Territory) government has introduced a number of tough new laws for pet owners, in hopes that animal welfare will be taken more seriously.

By Zoe Monk, 29 Sep 2019

If you don’t fancy walking your dog today then you could face a huge fine if you live in ACT.

The strict new legislation is being brought in after the government formally recognised animals as ‘sentient beings’ with the ability to experience sensations such as suffering, pain or pleasure.

Cat and dog sitting together
Both cats and dogs will be protected under new laws
© Pixabay

Dog walking

From March 2020, dog owners will risk being handed heavy fines of up to $4,000 if they fail to walk their dog every day, according to The Canberra Times.

Dog walkers
Dog owners will be fined if they don't walk their dog every day
© Pixabay

Dog owners won’t be fined if their canine companions are kept in the garden where they can run around. There will also be exemptions for owners whose pets need to be kept inside for their own health or wellbeing. But they will be breaking the law if their pet is kept inside for a whole day and not exercised.

Enclosed space

The ACT government proposed an amendment that said that pets would be classed as being confined if they are kept in an enclosed space.

But the penalties don’t end there.

Food, water and shelter

Pet owners who don’t give their animals enough food, water or quality shelter, will also be hit with a $4,000.

Cat eating from bowl
Pet owners will be fined if they don't adequately feed their animals© Pixabay

Animal cruelty

The ACT government also want to clamp down on dogfighting and other violent animal activities. Anyone caught taking part in such events will face fines of $48,000 and three years in prison.

Dogs fighting
Anyone participating in dogfighting activities will be prosecuted 
© Pixabay

Protecting pets

These strict new laws have been widely welcomed, with some people believing they are long overdue. City Services Minister Chris Steel told The Canberra Times:

“We've sadly seen recent incidents across our city of animal welfare abuses occurring and we need laws that allow us to take appropriate, balanced action against people who are doing the wrong thing”.

RSPCA ACT chief executive Michelle Robertson agreed, adding:

“We believe that most Canberrans are responsible and loving pet owners, and foresee very little impact that this will have on responsible pet owners or businesses who have animals on site. The changes could, however, have a significant impact on people who continuously neglect or who have no regard for the welfare of animals in their care”.