28 April 2011


Code Review Project Officer

Bureau of Animals Welfare

475 Mickleham Road

ATTWOOD  Vic  3049


By Email:  animal.welfare@dpi.vic.gov.au


Dear Sir/Madam,

Good For Dogs Submission on

Code of Practice for the Management of Dogs and Cats in Shelters and Pounds (Revision 1)

While we welcome the removal of the ’28 Day Rule’ it is obvious the writers of this draft haven’t absorbed the message that resonated so strongly during the campaign for its removal. Shelters should not be forced to make bad decisions based on an overly prescriptive set of rules that are blind to circumstance. We reject the imposition of arbitrary limits and restrictions that result in the unnecessary killing of cats and dogs in our pounds and shelter. We expect animal welfare laws to be supported by sound animal welfare science and not just the musings of a few industry representatives.

Rules need to allow for discretion. Discretion calls for the ability to review decisions and audit results.

There are numerous examples in the Code where those working to save a life are restricted by an arbitrary rule with no situational discretion allowed. The Code sets the maximum allowable period for an animal to be in foster care to three months. There is no process for appeal and record keeping requirements mean that any breach could be detected during an audit.

Conversely the Code gives those wishing to kill an animal a great deal of discretion, with little opportunity for appeal or audit. An example of this is in the assessment of an incoming cat as unidentifiable and wild/uncontrollable/diseased. This cat can be killed immediately, eliminating the possibility for a review that may detect incorrect assessments. An audit would not detect abuse as any evidence is destroyed.

We have included a detailed criticism of the draft but would like to highlight some of our objections to the restrictions on foster care programs run by pounds and shelters. The following arbitrary rules do not allow for individual circumstances and are not supported by animal welfare science:

  • not allowing healthy adoptable animals to be placed in pound/shelter run foster care
  • arbitrary 3 month limit on time animals can be fostered
  • requiring audits by authorised officers of foster carer’s homes
  • weekly vet visits regardless of whether they are required

We believe the process that produced this draft of the Code to be deeply flawed and recommend the Minister conduct a review into how other jurisdictions regulate Pounds and Shelters. We argue that over regulation stifles innovation with unintended consequences often  having the opposite effect to those originally envisaged.

1.1 Proprietor

Moving responsibilities from the operations manager to the proprietor of an establishment will provide a disincentive for Councils to run their own in house service as Council CEO’s will not want to be responsible for things such as “the health and well-being of all animals in the establishment and in foster care”.

>1.2 Operations manager

It’s not clear what experience or qualifications in the husbandry of dogs and cats an operations manager must have.

1.3 Animal attendants

There is no evidence a 20% increase in attendant labour is required.

1.6 Foster Carer

The Code defines the minimum conditions for pounds and shelters and is enforceable. These conditions apply to foster carers and do not belong in the Code as they are outside of the control of the establishment.

2.2 Admission

There are insufficient safeguards against cats being misclassified. Not enough is done to prevent failed microchip scans, the term ‘diseased’ is too vague, and many pet cats could be described as ‘uncontrollable’ if trapped and delivered to a pound.

2.3 Vaccination

Should make clear that animals for which a record of vaccination exists or for which titre testing indicates immunity should not be required to be re vaccinated.

The AVA’s policy refers to the World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s (WSAVA’s) Guidelines for the Vaccination of Dogs and Cats, which state that

“Vaccines should not be given needlessly.  Core vaccines should not be given any more frequently than every three years after the 12-month booster injection following the puppy/kitten series”

The APVMA advises that antibody titre testing is available to determine if an animal needs re-vaccination.

2.5 Isolation

All animals confined in isolation housing must be under the supervision of a veterinary practitioner and the fate of an animal must be decided by a veterinary practitioner.

Vet’s provide advice. It’s up to the establishment to decide who has the final say on the fate of an animal, especially establishments without an in house vet.

2.8 Foster care

“The only time an animal can be placed in foster care is on the grounds of juvenile, veterinary rehabilitation or behavioural rehabilitation foster care.”

There is no reasonable justification to exclude all other grounds for placing animals into foster care.

Foster care must only be undertaken with the signed approval of a veterinary practitioner. The veterinary practitioner must ensure that the animal is suitable for foster care and sign the animal’s records endorsing such approval.

This only seems justified for veterinary rehabilitation foster care.

“A health plan determined by a veterinary practitioner must be provided for each animal being placed in foster care.”

This only seems justified for veterinary rehabilitation foster care.

“Where, in the veterinary practitioner’s opinion, the animal’s progress is such that they believe the animal may not sufficiently improve in the maximum period allowable to enable the animal to be rehoused, the animal must be returned to the establishment.”

It should not be mandatory to terminate a foster care placement simply because a veterinarian believes the animal may not be ready for rehoming by the end of a maximum period.


“The time an animal is in juvenile foster care must not exceed three months.”

We do not support arbitrary time limits for animal care.

2.10 Rehoming

“Aggressive, anti-social or animals with known vices such as excessive barking or habitual escapees must not be made available for sale.”

A dogs barking cannot reliably be assessed in a shelter. Any dog will roam if not properly contained.

“New owners must be supplied with a microchip, desexing and vaccination certificate”

Owners should be presented with evidence the animal has immunity. This may be in the form of results from a titre test instead of a re-vaccination.

3.2.3 Size of animal housing areas, isolation areas and holding facilities

a. Dogs

In each instance the increased floor area for each additional dog is 0.1 square meters greater than the next size pen. Sizes should be streamlined so that two dogs can be placed in a pen one size up.

The current code requires dogs over 70 cm at shoulders to be given the largest pens. Reducing this to 60cm would mean more space is required for dogs such as:

There would be significant capital expenditure in building new pens and less dogs could be housed in a given space. A shelter with less pens fills up sooner. Is there evidence that the existing minimum pen sizes have resulted in animals suffering over the past 12 years? Is there animal welfare science to justify this change?

b. Cats

The minimum width for transitional period housing is new (even though minimum floor area remains the same). Existing housing should be grandfathered. Is there animal welfare science to justify the new minimum side?

4 Records

In the event that the animal is euthanased, the method used should be recorded.

Mike Bailey


Mobile: 0421 806 002

PO Box 2016

Fitzroy VIC 3065