Document Type

Journal Article


As animal law in Australia is a relatively new field, there has been little research into the operation of State and Territory animal welfare legislation. Yet to understand any area of law requires not only knowledge of the relevant legislation and cases but also an appreciation of how the law 'in the books' is interpreted and applied. This is particularly important in a field where the regulatory subjects lack any direct legal claim and are unable to articulate their own experience. The abdication by governments of responsibility for much of the law enforcement in this field makes it even more crucial that the practical operation of the law be subject to scrutiny. This article aims to contribute to this process by examining some aspects of the operation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW). The first part situates the Act within the legal and regulatory framework governing animal welfare in NSW, while the second part provides data with respect to its enforcement. The final part seeks to identify general issues in relation to animal law enforcement arising from the first two sections. The article does not purport to be an exhaustive study of animal welfare law enforcement in NSW but to identify some of the matters that merit further discussion and research. While the focus of the study is NSW, the discussion is likely to have relevance for animal law enforcement in Australia more generally.