A new law under legislation that is being proposed by the RSPCA, could punish dog owners who do not regularly exercise their dogs, is being considered.
Under the legislation, they would have to regularly exercise dogs, ensure animals are not kept chained up and give their pets adequate food and water.
AdvertisementIf the proposal becomes law, dog and cat owners across Australia would face prosecution, fines of up to 12,000 dollars for animal cruelty, and magistrates could consider jail in extreme circumstances.
Dr Hugh Wirth, head of RSPCA Victoria, is one of four experts the Federal Department of Agriculture's welfare division has appointed to draft national animal welfare guidelines.
"The draft will tell people what they have to do rather than what they want to do," News.com.au quoted Dr Wirth as saying.
"The new standards would be regulatory, therefore a breach of the standards is a breach of the law," he explained.
The proposed new laws are designed to formalise the national code, which states dogs must be walked at least once a day.
Dr Wirth said jail sentences would not be handed out for a first offence, but it would be something available for magistrates to consider.
"I would be amazed if a magistrate ordered jail time on the first offence, but, like every other offence under cruelty legislation, jail is an option," he said.
The proposed laws would be designed to help overcome the problems animal inspectors have had penalising bad owners.
The working party is designed to create a national standard, but ultimately the laws would be have to be passed by State Governments.
A spokesman for the federal Department of Agriculture said the working group was one of six set up to look at animal welfare.
"One of the goals of the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy is to develop national standards and guidelines for the care of different kinds of animals," the spokesman said.
"The states and territories are ultimately responsible for legislating for animal welfare, not the Commonwealth," he added.
The draft is still in its early stages.