Is microchipping and desexing compulsory?
Microchipping and desexing is not currently compulsory, but it soon will be. Microchipping and desexing can enable lost dogs and cats to be quickly reunited with their owners and reduce the number of unwanted dogs and cats having to be put down.
From 1 July 2018, microchipping and desexing of dogs and cats will become compulsory [see Dog and Cat Management (Miscellaneous) Amendment Act 2016 (SA) Part 4A]. The Dog and Cat Management Regulations 2017 (SA) will provide that dogs and cats must be:
- Microchipped before sale, but in any event before they reach 12 weeks of age or within 28 days of the owner taking possession (unless an extension of time has been obtained under regulation 14), whichever is later [see ss 42A and 70 (1) and regs 10 and 18(1)];
- Desexed before they reach 6 months of age or within 28 days of the owner taking possession (unless an extension of time has been obtained under regulation 14), whichever is later [see ss 42E and 70 (2) and regs 12 and 18(2)].
As such, if a person has a dog or cat in their possession that will be 12 weeks of age on or before 1 July 2018, they should ensure that it is microchipped by that date.
Dogs and cats born before 1 July 2018 are exempt from the requirement to be de-sexed but those born on or after this date must be de-sexed.
What will be the penalty for failing to comply?
Expiation fee from 1 July 2018 for owners
Dangerous or prescribed breed $750
Any other case $170
Expiation fee from 1 July 2018 for those selling dogs and cats
There will also be provision for continuing offences, where a dog or cat is not microchipped or desexed for a further 3 months.
What if microchipping or de-sexing would pose an undue risk to the health of a dog or cat or adversely affect their growth, development and wellbeing?
A registered veterinary surgeon may grant an exemption from the requirements to microchip or de-sex a particular dog or cat for these reasons [reg 13(2)]. An exemption due to the health of the dog or cat may be for a limited or an indefinite period, but an exemption due to the growth, development and wellbeing may only be for a maximum of 18 months [reg 13(4)]. The exemption must be by notice in writing as required by the Dog and Cat Management Board [reg13(5)]. The Board or the registered veterinary surgeon may vary or revoke an exemption if it is no longer necessary [reg 13(7)].
What if a dog or cat was microchipped or de-sexed interstate?
If a dog or cat has already been microchipped or de-sexed in another State or Territory in accordance with the law of that State or Territory, then as long as it conforms to the Australian Standards and records a unique identification number, it will be taken to have been microchipped or de-sexed in accordance with the requirements in South Australia [regs 10(8) and 18(3)].
Must owners report to a register of dogs and cats?
Yes, from 1 July 2017, the Dog and Cat Management Board began keeping a register of dogs and cats that have been microchipped and desexed [Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 21B]. The register is called Dogs and Cats Online. Under the regulations, owners will be required to report the identification number of the microchip implanted in their dog or cat to the register and report any changes to their name, address or telephone number within 14 days of the change occurring [see regs 10(6) and (7)]. An expiation fee of $170 applies for failing to do so.
Owners will also be required to report the de-sexing of their dog or cat to the Dog and Cat Management Board under regulations 12 (7) and (8).
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.