New animal welfare regulations announced – what this means for SPCA
On 1 October 2018, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) released the new Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Regulations 2018, which allow better enforcement of low to medium animal welfare offending through regulatory prosecutions and infringement notices.
The new regulations strengthen New Zealand’s animal welfare system, and directly relate to our purpose, which is to advance animal welfare and prevent cruelty. In the lead-up to these new regulations being made into law, MPI conducted a very thorough consultation process. Along with animal welfare groups, veterinarians and stakeholders, SPCA was called upon to submit on the regulations because of our credibility around compliance and experience in the animal welfare field.
SPCA had input into these consultation forums via both our inspectorate and our advocacy teams. We are pleased that we were able to have this level of input and to have been of assistance in the creation of these regulations which should have a positive impact on the welfare of New Zealand’s animals. The new regulations will make it easier for MPI and SPCA inspectors to take action against mid and lower-level offending. SPCA is the only charity in New Zealand with statutory powers, including issuing infringement notices and prosecution under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and these new regulations.
The regulations give our inspectors more tools to prevent animal cruelty, promote behaviour change, improve the lives of animals, and make accountable those who commit offences towards animals. The new regulations cover a range of species and activities, including stock transport, farm husbandry, companion and working animals, pigs, layer hens, crustaceans, rodeos, surgical and painful procedures, and inspections of traps.
Regulations relating to dogs
There are several new regulations relating to dogs, which are predominantly in our remit and relate to situations our inspectors are likely to come across.
Muzzles on dogs
The owner of, and every person in charge of, a dog that is muzzled must ensure that the muzzle does not cause a cut or skin abrasion that bleeds or discharges, causes a swelling, or prevents the dog from breathing normally, panting, drinking, or vomiting.
Dry and shaded shelter
The owner of, and every person in charge of, a dog must ensure that the dog has access at all times to a lying area that is large enough to allow the dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down in a natural position. This lying area must be fully shaded, dry, ventilated, and provide the dog with protection from extremes of heat and cold. The dog must have access at all times to an area in which to urinate and defecate away from its lying area, and ensure that faeces or urine do not accumulate in any area in which the dog is kept. Not complying with this regulation can result in an infringement offence and a fee of $300.
Dogs left in vehicles
A person who leaves a dog in a stationary vehicle must ensure that the dog does not display signs of shade-seeking behaviour, as well as one or more signs consistent with heat stress. These signs are excessive panting, excessive drooling, or hyperventilation. Shadeseeking means that the dog is compulsively seeking out and placing, or attempting to place itself in the shadiest, coolest part of the vehicle that it can access.
The owner of the dog or the owner of the vehicle involved in the failure to comply with this regulation can be given an infringement fee of $300. SPCA directly contributed to all regulations, but we are particularly pleased to see this regulation relating to dogs left in vehicles. Because we are the first port of call to release a dog from a hot car, we advocated strongly on behalf of dogs so they don’t have to suffer. This regulation acts as a deterrent for owners when they are thinking of leaving their dog in a car, allowing an SPCA inspector to give a sanction on the spot.
Dogs on moving motor vehicles
The owner of, and every person in charge of, a dog transported on the open deck or open trailer of a moving motor vehicle (other than a moped, motorcycle, or an all-terrain vehicle) on a public road must ensure that the dog is secured in a way that prevents it falling off or hanging off the open deck or open trailer (for example, using a tether or a cage).
If the dog is secured by a tether, ensure the tether is short enough to prevent the dog’s legs from reaching over the sides of the open deck of the vehicle or open trailer, but long enough to allow the dog to stand or lie down in a natural position. This does not apply when farm dogs are unsecured on the open deck or open trailer of a moving motor vehicle on a public road while involved in driving or managing livestock. A person who fails to comply with this regulation commits an infringement offence with a fee of $300. The owner of the dog or the owner of the vehicle involved in the failure to comply with this regulation can also be given an infringement fee of $300.
Docking dogs’ tails
It is forbidden to dock the tail of a dog. The owner of, and every person in charge of, a dog must not allow the dog’s tail to be docked. A person who fails to comply with this regulation commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $3000. A person has a defence to a prosecution for an offence against this regulation if the person is a veterinarian, or a veterinary student under the direct supervision of a veterinarian throughout the procedure, and the person docked the tail of the dog for therapeutic purposes, and the dog was given pain relief at the time of the procedure.
Removing dogs’ first digits (dew claws)
A person must not remove a front limb first digit (dew claw) or an articulated hind limb first digit (dew claw) from a dog of any age, unless the person is a veterinarian, or a veterinary student under the direct supervision of a veterinarian throughout the procedure, and the dog is given pain relief at the time of the procedure. A person who fails to comply with this regulation commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $3000.
Collars and tethers
Poorly fitted collars can cause pain and distress, and SPCA sees collar problems a lot, sometimes very severe cases, particularly with goats and dogs. A collar must be the right size and fit for each animal, allow normal breathing, panting and drinking, and be not so tight or heavy that it causes skin abrasions, cuts or swelling; nor can it be so loose that it can cause an injury – for example, by getting a leg caught in the collar. Otherwise, you can be fined $300.
A tether must be an appropriate length and material to allow normal breathing, panting and drinking. It must keep the animal from being caught up on nearby objects and injured. Otherwise, you can be fined $300.
The owner of, and every person in charge of, a horse that is tethered for the purpose of grazing must ensure that, at all times while the horse is tethered, the horse has access to food, water, shade, and protection from extremes of heat and cold. Failure to comply is an infringement offence with a fee of $300.
The owner of, and every person in charge of, a goat that is tethered must ensure that, at all times while the goat is tethered, the goat has access to food, water, and shelter that is fully shaded, dry, and provides protection from extremes of heat and cold. Failure to comply is an infringement offence with a fee of $300.
The owner of, and every person in charge of, a pig must ensure that the pig has access at all times to a ventilated shelter that provides protection from extremes of heat and cold, and the pig has access at all times when it is not in a farrowing crate or a stall to a dry area that is large enough to allow the pig to stand up, turn around, and lie down in a natural position. Faeces and urine cannot accumulate in any area in which the pig is kept to an extent that may pose a threat to the health or welfare of the pig. This is an infringement offence with a fee of $300.
Crabs, rock lobster, crayfish, and koura
A person must not kill for commercial purposes any crab, rock lobster, crayfish, or koura (freshwater crayfish) that is farmed or caught for commercial purposes unless the animal is insensible before it is killed. However, this does not apply if a person has captured the animal in a wild state for the purpose of facilitating its imminent destruction. A person who fails to comply with this regulation commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5000.
Want to know more?
Visit MPI’s webpage, ‘Guide to the Animal Welfare Care and Procedures Regulations’ (www.mpi.govt.nz/ protection-and-response/animalwelfare/guide-to-the-animal-welfarecare-and-procedures-regulations/) which has key messages; you can click on each numbered title to go directly to that section of the regulations on the legislation website. MPI has also developed a new interactive tool for the webpage, called ‘Ask Reg’, which groups all the applicable regulations, associated guidance, and minimum standards for the animal or activity you select. As part of our work, SPCA regularly works with ministers, government officials and industry to advocate for changes that improve animal welfare. We are delighted that we were able to make submissions to MPI on these regulations. These submissions were made on behalf of our compliance team, and the SPCA inspectorate. We continue our advocacy work on behalf of all animals, as we believe that animal welfare issues are important and must be regulated by law in New Zealand.