Frequently Asked Questions

By signing up to our Furry Army, you’ll learn more about
our election priorities and what you can do to help
influence policy changes that will have a significant welfare
benefits for animals.

About the RSPCA Victoria campaign

What is the aim of the RSPCA Victoria election campaign?

To put animal welfare firmly on the political agenda for the 2018 Victorian State election by advocating for political parties to adopt at least one of our four animal welfare priorities.

What is RSPCA Victoria’s approach to putting animal welfare on the political agenda?

Our advocacy approach is two-fold:

  1. Through political advocacy — RSPCA Victoria’s Chief Executive Officer is meeting with politicians from the major parties and other key stakeholders and decision makers to encourage support for our calls.
  2. Through community advocacy by Furry Army recruits — out in the field in marginal electorates and sharing our message online.

RSPCA Victoria will also be engaging in raising awareness via social media, and state and local media.

Why is RSPCA Victoria focusing on community advocacy in the marginal electorates?

A marginal electorate is one that often changes hands from one political party to another or is held by only a small percentage of votes. At election time, political leaders care about what people in marginal electorates want because they are vying for every vote they can get! Just a handful of votes can mean the difference between winning and losing so it’s a good opportunity to get their attention!

A non-marginal electorate is one that’s nearly always won by the incumbent party. There’s little opportunity for influence, because the politician knows they are in a safe seat.

As a charity with limited resources, RSPCA Victoria will focus our efforts in marginal electorates where we believe we’ll have more chance of influencing policy outcomes.

Which marginal electorates are RSPCA Victoria prioritising?

RSPCA Victoria is focusing efforts in these marginal electorates:

  • Albert Park
  • Bayswater
  • Bendigo East
  • Bentleigh
  • Box Hill
  • Burwood
  • Carrum
  • Caulfield
  • Cranbourne
  • Eildon
  • Eltham
  • Forest Hill
  • Frankston
  • Ivanhoe
  • Macedon
  • Monbulk
  • Mordialloc
  • Mount Waverley
  • Mulgrave
  • Narre Warren North
  • Narre Warren South
  • Prahran
  • Ringwood
  • Sunbury
  • Yan Yean
How do I find out what my local electorate is?

Go to the Take Action tab on the website and fill in your address to find out your electorate.

Alternatively, check your electorate via the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) website:

https://intmap.vec.vic.gov.au/#/ElectorateLookup

Can RSPCA Victoria tell me who to vote for?

No. We can only help you make an informed decision with tools like our Scorecard that lets you know where major parties stand on our animal welfare priorities.

RSPCA Victoria does not endorse a political party, candidate or platform.

Will my actions make a difference?

History has shown that when people speak out together, leaders listen. The more people we can rally, the harder it will be for leaders to ignore our calls for better animal welfare!

How can I stay involved in helping the work of RSPCA Victoria after the election?

We hope you’ll keep supporting us in achieving our vision of ending cruelty to all animals.

Sign up to our supporter newsletter, Monthly Meow and stay connected with our latest news and information.

How much funding does RSPCA Victoria receive from the Government and how much is spent on helping animals?

Less than 5% of RSPCA Victoria’s funding comes the Government. All Government grant funding must be used to run our Inspectorate. The funding received is not enough to cover the Inspectorate’s operating costs so RSPCA Victoria subsidises this with non-government income streams.

Approximately 74% of our income (2016/17 FY) is expended on our cause of ending cruelty to animals.

How do I report animal cruelty or neglect?

Go to the Report cruelty page of our website.

What should I do if I have a question that hasn't been answered?

Email the RSPCA Victoria campaigns team: campaigns@rspcavic.org.au; Subject Line: Furry Army enquiry.

About the Furry Army

What is the Furry Army?

A group of people dedicated to helping RSPCA Victoria put animal welfare on the political agenda this Victorian state election.

Who can join the Furry Army?

Anyone who believes that animals deserve #AFurGo! There’s even more reason to join our Furry Army if you’re of voting age and live in a marginal electorate in Victoria because you’re in a powerful position to influence change.

What happens once I join the Furry Army?

Once you join the Furry Army you will receive regular email communications with information on how you can support our campaign. You will also receive our Furry Army Supporter Pack and you’ll be invited to join a private Facebook group where you’ll receive additional support like online training.

Should I contact my local candidate about these issues?

We encourage you to have a conversation with all local candidates who come knocking for your vote. Let them know where you stand on animal welfare and why you joined the Furry Army. We advise against contacting your local candidates directly because RSPCA Victoria is already doing this at a state level – calling on all major parties to adopt our initiatives into their policy platforms.

What should I ask my local candidate if they come knocking?

Here are some suggested questions you might ask your local candidate if they come knocking for your vote:

  • Do you have any animal welfare policies?
  • Have you heard of the RSPCA Victoria Furry Army and our four policy calls?
  • What do you think about the following?
    • Mandatory desexing of companion dogs and cats
    • Introducing a legal duty of care for all animals
    • Making animal welfare codes of practice mandatory
    • Reuniting registered lost pets directly with their owners
  • What will your party do to improve animal welfare?
  • Will you adopt any of these issues as an election promise?
  • If elected, how else will you represent views on animal welfare in Parliament?

Just remember, that while you are supporting our campaign, you’re not expected to be an expert or an RSPCA Victoria spokesperson. The views that you express to your candidate are your own, as a local constituent that cares about animals and their welfare.

If I have a good idea for a local media story, who should I contact?

It is important that all media stories related to the Furry Army are centrally organised – plus, we want to hear your great ideas!

Please contact RSPCA Victoria’s media team. Email:media@rspcavic.org.au with the subject line: Furry Army.

If I door knock in my marginal electorate, will I be representing RSPCA Victoria?

Yes. All in-field Furry Army recruits will be required to register as an official RSPCA Victoria volunteer and complete online training that will go through guidelines on representing our organisation.

What if I door knock as part of the Furry Army and encounter someone difficult?

All in-field Furry Army recruits will be required to complete online training that will take you through how to deal with different scenarios.

What if I’m not in a marginal electorate – can I still help by joining the Furry Army?

Yes, you can! Everyone can join the Furry Army!

There are so many ways you can support the campaign even if you’re not in a marginal electorate – from actions you take online to help us raise awareness, right through to your considered vote on election day.

Why was I invited to join the Furry Army?

You have received an invitation to join the Furry Army because you are a valued supporter of RSPCA Victoria. If you wish to opt out of our election campaign emails, you can update your preferences or unsubscribe from the list any time by clicking on the links at the bottom of the email you received.

I signed up to the Furry Army but didn't get a welcome email

You should receive a welcome email from RSPCA Victoria within 24 hours of signing up to the Furry Army. Check your spam or junk folder in case it was sent there in error. If using Gmail, be sure to check your primary, social and promotions tabs.

What are the Furry Army Information Sessions?

RSPCA Victoria will host three online Information Sessions on the Furry Army Facebook Page via Facebook Live so you won’t need to leave your couch to join us!

Information Session 1:
General welcome and introduction from the RSPCA Victoria Furry Army team
When: Monday 17 Sep 2018.
Time: 7.00pm – 7.30pm.
RSVP: Click here to RSVP.

Information Session 2:
The political landscape and our election priorities explained

When: Monday 8 October 2018.
Time: 7.00pm – 7.30pm.
RSVP: Click here to RSVP.

Information Session 3:
How to talk to your community about our election priorities
When Monday 15 October 2018
Time: 7.00pm – 7.30pm
RSVP: Click here to RSVP.

How can I view the Information Sessions if I'm not on social media?

You can watch our Furry Army information sessions here:

Information Session 3: Monday 15 Oct, 2018

Tips for engaging your community on our election priorities

Information Session 2: Monday 8 Oct, 2018

The political landscape and our election priorities explained

Information Session 1: Monday 17, Sep 2018

General welcome and introduction from the RSPCA Victoria Furry Army team

How do I register as an official Furry Army In-field Volunteer?

Step 1:

Watch our video, We are RSPCA.

Step 2:
Read the Furry Army in field volunteer role profile.

Step 3:
Click here to apply online.

About our election priorities

What is meant by 'animal welfare'

Animal welfare describes the mental and physical health of an animal. Good animal welfare is achieved through providing animals with all the necessary elements to ensure their good health, physiological fitness and positive wellbeing.

How were the RSPCA Victoria election priorities decided?

RSPCA Victoria conducted a study to identify the animal welfare issues that are most important to Victorians in marginal electorates. A representative sample of 530 Victorians in marginal seats were surveyed, along with a further 1,750 RSPCA Victoria staff, volunteers, members and donors.

Participants were presented with a list of 17 animal welfare issues and asked to select the top five and bottom five according to importance. From the responses, we identified the most popular and consistent top four priority issues for our campaign.

The list comprised:

  1. Create infringement notices for minor animal welfare offences
  2. Require owners to contain cats
  3. Make animal welfare codes of practice mandatory
  4. Register all horses
  5. Reduce dog and cat quarantine to three days
  6. Ban anyone convinced of cruelty from running a Domestic Animals Business
  7. Reunite registered lost pets directly with their owners
  8. Protection from civil liability
  9. Foster seized animals
  10. Ban jumps racing
  11. Abolish greyhound muzzling
  12. Remove breed specific legislation
  13. Make desexing of companion dogs and cats compulsory
  14. Include small animals in domestic animal laws
  15. Deliver a targeted prevention program in one high need area
  16. Introduce a duty of care to animals
  17. Ban duck shooting
  18. OTHER (please specify)

We identified the four priority issues from this list that Victorian voters wanted on the political agenda this state election. By asking for a small number of important issues that Victorians care about, we are much more likely to be successful.

While we are focusing on these four issues for our Furry Army, this does not mean that we will not be advocating on a range of other important issues in our direct political advocacy. Outside of the Furry Army, we also continually advocate for a number of other changes to improve animal welfare.

NB: RSPCA Australia is leading advocacy on national issues like Live Export and an end to battery cages.

See the full list of RSPCA Australia policies and positions.

What laws currently exist to protect animals in Victoria?

Animal welfare legislation in Victoria is rather complex with a range of Acts, Regulations, Codes and Standards. However, the most prominent pieces of legislation are:

  1. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTAA): serves an important function in animal welfare protection, however it is more focused on responding to cruelty than the responsibilities of owners to provide appropriate care. This has limited how POCTAA is enforced and the ability of enforcement agencies to intervene at an early stage before harm has occurred or to address animal welfare concerns that do not fit within the definition of cruelty.
  2. Domestic Animals Act 1994: regulates the management of dogs and cats including requirements for registration, microchipping, pet shops and breeders. It also provides local councils with the authority to manage instances of animals causing a public nuisance and dog attacks.
  3. Wildlife Act 1975: promotes the protection and conservation of wildlife, the prevention of wildlife from becoming extinct and the sustainable use of, and access to wildlife. The Act also provides for the regulation of people involved in activities related to wildlife.
  4. Livestock Management Act 2010: regulates the management of livestock in Victoria. The Land Transport Standards and the Victorian Standards and Guidelines for the welfare of pigs sit under this Act with other livestock standards and guidelines awaiting adoption under this piece of legislation. All standards will be mandatory under this Act.
Who is supporting RSPCA Victoria's election priorities?

AVAAustralian Veterinary Association (AVA)  – Victorian Division
Endorsement of RSPCA Victoria’s election priorities

Make animal welfare codes of practice mandatory
Codes of practice should be compulsory rather than advisory (as they currently are). Creating minimum standards that apply to all persons in control of animals and making codes of practice mandatory would provide increased tools for enforcement and improve animal welfare.

Include “duty of care” in animal welfare legislation
Placing a legal obligation on persons in charge of animals would allow authorised officers to intervene before an animal is harmed. Currently it is very difficult to successfully prosecute cases beyond a reasonable doubt that would likely result in suffering of an animal.

Ability for vets to return stray animals to owners
Under section 84D of the Domestic Animal Act 1994, anyone other than an authorised officer must deliver a stray dog or cat to the council in the municipality that it was seized. This means that veterinary practitioners cannot legally scan for a microchip and attempt to reunite the animal with its owner.  The offence is punishable by 5 penalty units – currently a fine of $792.85.

This means that the animal is required to be transported to the council’s pound where the animal is impounded and then scanned for a microchip by council or their agent. The RSPCA quote that 53,000 stray animals are impounded in Victoria each year with 21,600 reclaimed by their owner. Impoundment creates significant stress for both animals and their owners looking for their pets.  Significant costs and time are borne by councils by way of animal rangers and pound fees and it does not make sense to needlessly delay the process of reuniting an animal with its owner.

The AVA recommends that section 84D of the Domestic Animal Act 1994 be amended to allow veterinarians to reunite microchipped animals with their owners.

City of CaseyThe City of Casey
Endorsement of RSPCA Victoria’s election priorities

The City of Casey is committed to making the welfare of animals in our municipality a high priority. We commend RSPCA Victoria in taking a proactive approach in seeking legislative changes to ensure animals in Victoria have the care and protection that is required. The City of Casey supports RSPCA Victoria’s four key animal welfare priorities and will continue to show our support by promoting responsible pet ownership and advocating our commitment to animal welfare issues.

Where do the major parties stand on our election priorities?

RSPCA Victoria has published an election Scorecard showing where each of the major parties stands on our four key election priorities.

Scorcard ratings

In summary:

The Greens have committed to supporting three out of four of RSPCA Victoria’s election priorities. They endorse including ‘duty of care’ in animal welfare legislation, introducing mandatory desexing of cats and dogs, and reuniting registered lost pets directly with their owners.

The Liberal-National Coalition has committed to making animal welfare codes of practice mandatory, as well as allowing vets and animal shelters to legally reunite lost pets with their owners.  The Coalition has also committed to updating the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, which may include legislating a duty of care to animals. It will also consider amendments to the Domestic Animals Act to introduce mandatory desexing of companion cats and dogs.

Victorian Labor is still talking with RSPCA Victoria about the four initiatives. The party has indicated it supports the development of nationally uniform minimum standards for the welfare of animals and will consider measures to improve lost pets being reunited with their owners.

RSPCA Victoria is encouraged by the support and will continue promoting its initiatives and updating the election Scorecard right up to election day.

Include 'duty of care' in animal welfare legislation

What does ‘duty of care’ mean?

The legal and ethical obligation of a person to reasonably satisfy the physical and psychological needs of an animal in their care. Duty of care is based on the internationally recognised ‘Five Freedoms’ of animal welfare:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst
  2. Freedom from discomfort
  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease
  4. Freedom to express normal behaviour
  5. Freedom from fear and distress
What is the RSPCA’s position on duty of care?

RSPCA Australia believes that animal welfare legislation should impose positive obligations on people who have custody or control of animals. The duties imposed should reflect the ‘five freedoms’.

What is the issue with current Victorian animal welfare legislation in relation to duty of care?

Duty of care is not clearly recognised in current Victorian animal welfare legislation. Current legislation focusses on the pain or suffering of animals: whether it has occurred or is likely to occur. It does not clearly outline the responsibility of owners to provide a certain level of care, therefore a duty to provide this care is very difficult to enforce. In practice, authorised officers, like RSPCA Victoria Inspectors, can only intervene once harm has been done.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTAA) was developed over three decades ago. It has not been significantly re-written to include duty of care and is becoming out of step with current animal welfare science and community expectations.

Is Duty of Care recognised in law in other states?

All other Australian States and Territories include either an explicit duty of care, or positive duties towards animals within their animal welfare legislation.

Reunite registered lost pets directly with their owners

Why can’t vets return registered lost pets to their owners?

Under section 84D of the Domestic Animals Act 1994 veterinary practices and other animal shelters cannot lawfully reunite stray pets with their owners unless they have established an 84Y agreement with the local council. If they do, without such an agreement in place, the party commits an offence punishable by five penalty units, currently equivalent to a fine of $792.85.

How many registered lost pets are needlessly impounded each year?

Currently more than 53,000 stray animals are impounded in Victoria each year. Of these, approximately 21,600 are reclaimed (17,885 dogs and 3,734 cats).

If the proportion of reclaimed animals that are registered is representative of the overall rate of registration within the community (approximately 68% of dogs and 21% of cats), we can conclude that as many as 12,174 registered dogs and 791 registered cats are being needlessly impounded each year.

Introduce mandatory desexing of dogs and cats

What is the RSPCA’s policy on mandatory desexing?

RSPCA Australia advocates for compulsory desexing of all domestic dogs and cats which are kept as companion animals, as a strategy to prevent unwanted/unplanned breeding and reduce the numbers of unwanted animals.

What proportion of dogs and cats are currently not desexed?

No accurate data is available on this. However, of the 16 councils that report desexing rates of registered animals, 95% of cats are desexed and 78% of dogs.

Currently there are an estimated 580,568 unregistered dogs and 919,697 unregistered (owned) cats living in Victoria. While we do not know how many of these animals are desexed, it is likely that the rate of desexing among the unregistered population is lower than that among the registered population. Using the RSPCA Victoria incoming animal statistics as a proxy for the unregistered population; 59% of all cats and kittens and 52% of all dogs and puppies that enter RSPCA Victoria shelters are not desexed. Applying these rates to the unregistered population mean that there could be as many as 302,000 dogs and 543,000 cats that are unregistered and not desexed.

What does mandatory desexing mean for breeders?

Mandatory desexing would not impact on legally operating breeders who are registered with their local council. This registration would allow them an exemption from mandatory desexing. Mandatory desexing laws would apply to cats and dogs kept as companion animals.

Isn’t it better for female dogs to have at least one litter before being desexed?

This is a myth. Females do not need to need to have at least one litter to have a happy and healthy life.

The Code of practice for the private keeping of dogs recognises that desexing has positive welfare and health benefits for dogs as well as reducing any tendency to stray, particularly in male dogs.

How many councils currently have mandatory desexing?

Of the 79 councils in Victoria, 27 have already introduced mandatory desexing for cats, and 7 for dogs.

Why is RSPCA Victoria not asking for mandatory desexing of rabbits?

Unfortunately, rabbits are not covered under the Domestic Animals Act 1994 which is why the RSPCA is not calling for mandatory desexing of rabbits. While we appreciate community concerns regarding the number of feral rabbits in Victoria, population management falls under the Catchment and Land Protection Act (1994) (CaLP Act).

Make animal welfare codes of practice mandatory

What are the codes of practice for animal welfare?

The codes of practice are practical guides that set out recommended minimum standards and practices for the keeping of a wide range of animal species and animal related activities. Most codes that sit under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTAA), are advisory only and cannot be enforced. 

Compliance with the provisions of POCTAA codes can provide a defence to a prosecution under this Act.

What is the RSPCA’s policy on compulsory codes of practice?

RSPCA Australia supports the development of compulsory nationally uniform minimum standards for the welfare of all animal species commonly used, managed or controlled by humans. These should be supplemented where appropriate with best welfare practice codes or guidelines.