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Animal Defenders Office: FACT SHEETS 


So you want to know whether puppy farms are banned in Australia? Or why racehorses can be treated so brutally without breaching animal welfare laws? Or how you can prove an animal is yours? Or what 'ag-gag laws' are all about?


The Animal Defenders Office has a number of fact sheets on these topics and more.  The fact sheets are designed to clarify the law affecting animals, and to help you help animals.  


Looking for something that isn't covered? Let us know and we'll get onto it!

ADO volunteers Aryan and Alex with two ADO fact sheets at an ADO stall at the Cruelty Free Festival in Sydney

Assistance animals - what are they and are they protected?

‘Assistance animals’ are different from ‘companion animals’. A companion animal is a pet, like the family pet dog or cat or rabbit. An assistance animal is an animal who has been specifically trained to help their keeper with a medical or physical condition that the keeper has.

What does it take to make an animal an 'assistance animal'? Does an assistance animal have to be a dog? Are people and their assistance animals protected by our discrimination laws? Can you have an assistance animal in rental accommodation?

For answers to these and other questions, click here for our fact sheet.


Do our animal welfare laws protect racehorses?

On the day of a recent Melbourne Cup, the horse Anthony Van Dyck fractured his fetlock on the final bend and was taken from the track and euthanased.

In one 12-month period, 119 racehorses died at race tracks as a result of racing in Australia.

Under Australian animal welfare laws, a person who ‘overrides, overdrives, overworks … or terrifies an animal’ which results in the death of the animal commits aggravated cruelty on that animal.

Why aren’t riders and trainers of horses like Anthony Van Dyck prosecuted under animal welfare laws? Are other practices that inflict pain and suffering on racehorses unlawful? If not, why not?


This fact sheet looks at how the law protects—or fails to protect—racehorses in the ACT and NSW. The fact sheet is available here.


Rodeos in Australia - are they legal? Should they be?

What is a rodeo?

Are there rodeos in Australia?

Are there animal welfare concerns with rodeos?

Are rodeos banned anywhere in Australia on animal welfare grounds?

Case study: how are rodeos regulated in NSW? Is 'calf-roping' legal in NSW rodeos?


These questions and more are answered in our fact sheet on rodeos and the law.​ It's a tri-fold brochure we have available at our outreach stalls.

Click here for a PDF version of the fact sheet.

Domestic trade in elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn - should it be banned?

On 28 March 2018 the Australian Parliament launched an inquiry into the domestic trade in elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn (known as 'rhino horn'). The inquiry was established because it is legal to trade in ivory and rhino horn within Australia. Meanwhile elephants and rhinoceros continue to be killed by poachers each year to respond the global demand for ivory and horn. The ADO made a written submission (#55) to the inquiry and gave evidence at the public hearing on 9 July 2018. We advocated for a ban on the domestic trade in these unconscionable products, because domestic trade fuels the international market for the products, and obtaining the products involves considerable cruelty. Since the launch of the parliamentary inquiry in Australia, what has happened? What did the committee of inquiry recommend? Have the committee's recommendations been implemented?


These questions and more are answered in our fact sheet.​ Click here for the fact sheet.

The Joint Parliamentary Inquiry page is here.

What are my responsibilities as a cat keeper in the ACT?

​This fact sheet sets out important matters about cats and the law in the ACT. Topics include:

  • Cat containment - NEW

  • Cat registration - NEW

  • How many cats a person can keep

  • Whether or not cats have to be desexed

  • Whether you need a licence to breed from a cat

  • Whether cats have to be microchipped

  • Whether cats have to wear a collar

  • What a neighbour who doesn’t like your cat can and can’t do

  • What rangers can do if they find your cat.

This fact sheet is available here, or as a handy folded fact sheet at one of our outreach stalls.

'Animal cruelty' complaints - a guide

What does the law consider to be 'animal cruelty'? If you neglect an animal, is that 'cruelty' under the law?

What are the maximum penalties for animal cruelty and neglect in Australia? Am I legally obliged to report animal cruelty or neglect if I know it is happening?

How do I report animal cruelty or neglect? Do I have to give my name and details? Who can investigate animal cruelty - the RSPCA, or the police?

What if I have a complaint against the RSPCA - who can I complain to?


These questions and more are answered in our guide to animal cruelty complaints.​ Click here for the fact sheet.


Pet ownership disputes - what can you do?

​In Australia animals are categorised as 'personal property' that can be owned. But sometimes it's not clear who owns a pet. Sometimes the pet may be registered in someone else's name, but that person isn't the real owner, or keeper, of the pet. Sometimes the pet decides for him or herself that s/he wants a different keeper.


How do you go about proving 'ownership' of a pet? If a pet is registered in a person's name, does it always mean that person will be the pet's owner? What do you do if the pet isn't registered or microchipped at all?


This fact sheets considers pet ownership, and provides a useful checklist for when you need to prove a companion animal belongs to you.

Click here for the fact sheet.


Puppy and kitten farms in Australia: are they banned?

It seems that every other day there's another news story about dogs and cats being kept in miserable conditions in breeding facilities in Australia. For example, nearly 100 dogs and other animals were seized from an alleged puppy breeding facility near Goondiwindi in Queensland. And then there's the appalling case of Strawberry, the young boxer puppy used for breeding.

Many assume puppy and kitten farms are banned in Australia. Are they? If not, are governments doing enough, or anything at all, to stamp out the
intensive breeding of dogs and cats?


This fact sheet explains the current laws and animal welfare standards that apply to intensive dog and cat breeding in Australia .


Click here for our fact sheet summarising the legal status of puppy and kitten farms in Australia.

Ag-gag laws in Australia

This fact sheet takes a look at the situation regarding ag-gag laws in Australia. Do we have any actual ag-gag laws? What are the proposed ag-gag laws in this country? Where are they up to?


For answers to these and other questions, click here for a fact sheet about ag-gag laws in Australia.

Animal sentience

In October 2019 the Australian Capital Territory became the first jurisdiction in Australia to recognise animal sentience in law. Many regarded this as a radical step. Others thought it was high time the law caught up to scientific and community understandings of animals as living beings who feel pain and experience emotions.

This fact sheet looks at what sentience is, what the law says about it here and overseas, and what recognition of animal sentience in law might be able to achieve for animals. The fact sheet is available here.


Testing cosmetics on animals - is it legal in Australia?

This fact sheet will test just how much you know about animal cosmetic testing in Australia. For example, does Australia test cosmetics on animals? Are there laws that actually ban animal testing for cosmetics in any Australian State or Territory? If not, have any of the major political parties in Australia introduced bills to ban animal cosmetic testing? Find out the answers to these questions and more in our fact sheet, available here.


Jumps racing - what is it, and why should it be banned?

This fact sheet looks at the 'other' type of racing, known as 'jumps racing'. It examines its history and current status in various Australian jurisdictions, including where it is banned, and efforts to ban it where it is still legal.


The fact sheet is available here.


Defending kangaroos in the ACT - offences, penalties, and rangers' powers

Over the past decade the ACT Government has ordered the shooting of thousands of healthy wild kangaroos living in ACT nature reserves.  Many people oppose the Government's actions and voice their opposition outside the nature reserves where the killing takes place. This fact sheet outlines what powers ACT rangers have, and the ACT laws that may be used against kangaroo defenders. It includes case studies where kangaroo defenders have been prosecuted in ACT courts.


Click here for the fact sheet.

Rescuing ducks during VIC duck shooting season - offences and penalties

Every year the Victorian government sanctions the shooting of thousands of native ducks during the Victorian duck hunting season. Each year hundreds of animal defenders, including from the ACT, make their way out to the wetlands and waterways to rescue birds who have been injured and/or abandoned during the shooting season. This fact sheet sets out the offences and penalties that may apply to rescuers, and some of the shooters' rules the rescuers should know. It includes the changes to the law on 1 March 2018 requiring shooters actually to pick up the ducks they shoot (yes, they needed a law to tell them to do that), and 2019 penalty amounts. 


Click here for the fact sheet.


Free-range, barn or cage eggs - is there a difference?

Can you debeak a free-range hen? Are free-range laying hens killed in a different way from cage hens? How many hens can you cram into a paddock and still call it 'free-range'?


Don't worry if you don't know the answer to these questions. There is considerable confusion about the definition of ‘free range’ when applied to eggs.
‘Free range’ suggests a ‘backyard chook’ scenario with more space than hens, and where the hens live out their lives on open pastures. Yet commercial ‘free range’ facilities can be crowded, providing hens with limited access to outside areas, trimming their beaks, and sending them off to slaughter with other hens once they stop producing a profitable quantity of eggs.

The purpose of this fact sheet is to explain how 'free-range', 'barn' and 'cage' eggs are defined in law. It also looks at whether those legal definitions reflect how egg-laying hens really live, and what is wrong with all of them. The fact sheet uses the ACT as a case study. The fact sheet is available here.


Animals in apartments - are they allowed in the ACT?

Are you frustrated at not being able to rent an apartment with your pet? Or have you been wondering whether the rules banning animals in your apartment block are legal?


This fact sheet looks at ACT laws regulating the keeping of animals in apartment blocks that are managed by owners corporations.


The fact sheet is available here.


Keeping native animals as pets: is it legal?

In February 2017 Australia's Threatened Species Commissioner suggested ‘patriotic’ Australians should be allowed to keep native animals as pets.

This fact sheet looks at whether keeping a native wild animal as a pet is legal in the Australian Capital Territory. It also considers how keeping native animals as pets may not be in the best interests of the animals, or even the environment.


Click here for a fact sheet looking at legal and welfare issues associated with keeping native animals as pets in the Australian Capital Territory.

Greyhound racing in NSW and the ACT

In 2016 NSW became the first jurisdiction in Australia to ban greyhound racing in law. Less than seven weeks later the ban was overturned.


On 28 November 2017 the ACT became the second Australian jurisdiction to pass laws to ban greyhound racing. Did it become the first actually to implement the ban and shut the industry down?


This fact sheet looks at the status of greyhound racing in NSW and the ACT, with a timeline of all the bans and backflips.

Click here for the fact sheet.


The Australian Government plan to kill 2 million cats

The Australian Government announced it would work with the States and Territories to kill 2 million cats in Australia over 5 years. The controversial plan was the Government's response to Australia's alarming rate of species decline and extinction.


In this Fact Sheet the ADO looked at the legalities of the proposed killing methods and some non-lethal alternatives such as Trap, Neuter, Release programs, the reliability of the data used to determine cat numbers, and the failure of the plan to acknowledge the key role humans play in biodiversity loss and species extinction.

Click here for the fact sheet.


Is 'pig dogging' legal in NSW or the ACT?

Ever wondered whether it's legal to use dogs to hunt pigs? This gruesome practice is known as 'pig dogging', and the ADO's fact sheet looks at the laws regarding the use of dogs in pig hunting in NSW and the ACT. Is it legal? Does it matter whether the pigs are hunted on public or private land?


For answers to these and other questions, click here for a fact sheet about the laws on 'pig dogging' in NSW and the ACT.

Can I keep an orphaned fox as a pet in NSW or the ACT?

What happens if an orphaned wild fox comes into your care? What is the legal status of rescued foxes in the ACT and NSW? Can you keep the fox at your home as a pet? Do you need a licence?


For answers to these and other questions, click here for a fact sheet about the laws on keeping foxes as pets in NSW and the ACT. [Fact sheet currently being revised due to changes in ACT law].

Is factory farming banned in the ACT?

In March 2014 the ACT Government made history by introducing bans on certain aspects of intensive factory farming.  But how far do these bans actually go? Do they amount to a 'ban on factory farming' itself?  This fact sheet explains the amendments to the law, and answers some of these important questions. 


Click here for the fact sheet.

Animals on sale in the ACT - how is their welfare protected?

This fact sheet explains the mandatory Code of Practice for selling animals in the ACT - what it means for the animals and what it means for you.


This fact sheet is currently being updated.​


How to set up your own animal sanctuary or organisation

These fact sheets give you a step-by-step guide to setting up your own animal sanctuary in NSW (other jurisdictions to follow!). The fact sheets can be downloaded via the links below, or are available as a handy folded fact sheet at one of our outreach stalls


If you want to set up a sanctuary with all types of animals, click here.


If you want to set up a sanctuary to look after Australian native animals, click here.


How to get Deductible Gift Recipient status for your animal charity

Been wondering whether donations to your animal charity can be tax deductible?  This fact sheet explains the different types of animal charities that are eligible for 'Deductible Gift Recipient' status, and how to go about applying for it.  

The fact sheet is available here.​


What are my responsibilities as a dog keeper in the ACT? What happens if my dog is involved in a dog attack?

Fact sheets on these topics are available here (responsibilities) and here (dog attacks) and as a handy folded fact sheet at one of our outreach stalls - see our Community Outreach page for our next one!

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