Frequently asked questions

Cat sitting under a tree

Cats and dogs in the ACT are now protected under stricter breeding laws

The legislation that regulates breeding cats and dogs in the ACT has recently changed. The new legislation will help protect the welfare of cats and dogs, and will help prevent the emergence of puppy and kitten farms in the ACT. 

What is a puppy or kitten farm?

According to RSPCA Australia a puppy farm is ‘an intensive dog breeding facility that is operated under inadequate conditions that fail to meet the dogs’ behavioural, social and/or physiological needs’. A similar definition can apply to kitten farms.

The common thread with both large and small scale puppy and kitten farms is they don’t provide adequate conditions for female dogs and cats and their offspring.

What does the new breeding legislation do?

The new legislation supports the vast majority of breeders who do the right thing by their breeding animals, while targeting irresponsible breeders.

Who does the new breeding legislation apply to?

The legislation applies to any person who breeds from a female cat or dog in the ACT.  Stricter conditions apply to people who breed female cats or dogs with the intention of making a profit or commercial gain.

What are the requirements?

There are two main requirements:

  1. breeders must comply with the ‘breeding standard’, and
  2. people who breed in order to make a profit now require a ‘breeding licence’. 

About the breeding standard:

All dog and cat breeders will now be required to comply with the breeding standard.  The breeding standard is a document that protects the welfare, safety and health of fertile cats and dogs in relation to breeding and contains rules for breeding cats and dogs including:

  • a minimum age of an animal before breeding
  • the number of litters an animal may have, and
  • the frequency with which an animal may be bred in a particular period.

A copy of the breeding standard can be found at on the ACT legislation website under “Legislative instruments”.

About the breeding licence:

Only one breeding licence will be required per breeder, rather than a licence per breeding animal. Breeding licences remain in force until they are surrendered by the licence holder.

It is also a requirement that breeders display their breeding licence number in any advertisements that they publish for puppies and kittens that they have bred.

When do the requirements commence?

The new breeding laws commenced on 15 September 2015.

What are the costs?

At the moment, there is no fee payable, however, a one-off licence fee may apply in the future. 

What penalties apply to cat or dog breeders not complying with the new legislation?

Not complying with the breeding standard:
The maximum penalty is 50 penalty units (currently $7,500).

Not complying with the breeding standard with the intention of making a profit or commercial gain:
The maximum penalty is 100 penalty units ($15,000).

Not holding a breeding licence and breeding a litter for profit:
The maximum penalty is 50 penalty units (currently $7,500).

Advertising the sale of a puppy or kitten that you have bred without including your breeding licence number:
The maximum penalty is 10 penalty units ($1,500).

In the case of a breeding licence holder who breaches the conditions of their licence, the licence may be cancelled.

How will the new legislation be enforced?

Rangers from Domestic Animal Services will assess applications for breeding licences and ensure that the breeding standard is being followed.

How can I report a suspected puppy or kitten farm operating in the ACT?

If you suspect a puppy or kitten farm is operating within the ACT, you can report the details of it to Access Canberra on 13 22 81. The business will be investigated by rangers from Domestic Animal Services.

Where should I purchase my animal to make sure it is happy and healthy and I’m not supporting the mistreatment of animals?

Consider purchasing your pet from a reliable source, such as a rescue shelter or a licensed breeder.

There are several things that you can do to avoid purchasing an animal from a puppy or kitten farm including:

  • visit the breeder to inspect the conditions where the animal was born housed
  • ask to meet the mother and father animal, to ensure that they are happy, healthy and well looked after
  • ask to see the breeder’s licence.
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We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people. We acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.