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Govt tightens rules for pet shops

The Government continued to tighten up aspects of animal welfare legislation yesterday with the publication of a Bill that enhances the licensing conditions imposed on pet shops.

The Pet Animals Bill 2019, which was published yesterday, requires the licensing officer to include certain types of conditions in licences granted to pet shops.

This covers aspects such as the conditions in which animals are kept in pet shops including the accessibility of food and water and opportunities for exercise.

Additionally, the Bill provides for regulations to be enacted to prescribe licence conditions that may be imposed on pet shops.

The legislation also prescribes, as a condition of obtaining a licence that pet shops may only purchase from approved breeders and establishes a mechanism whereby breeders are approved by the licensing officer.

Additionally, the age at which a pet can be sold to a child has been raised from 12 to 16, and an additional offence of entering into an arrangement with a person under sixteen where that person has the chance to win a pet as a prize.

The enforcement powers under the Act have been increased, by removing the restriction on the ability to obtain a warrant to inspect private dwellings, as well as by permitting a licence to be removed by the licencing officer and the Minister, as well as a court, in cases where a person is convicted of an offence under the Act.

This comes after Parliament unanimously passed animal welfare legislation overhauling ‘outdated’ prior legislation in November last year.

The Animals Act extended the offence of cruelty to animals increasing the maximum penalty for the offence to up to five years imprisonment and prohibited dolphinaria.