Frequently asked questions

Cat sitting under a tree

Cats and dogs in the ACT are protected under strict breeding laws

The legislation that regulates breeding cats and dogs in the ACT spans across the Animal Welfare Act 1992 and the Domestic Animals Act 2000 and protects the welfare of cats and dogs, including preventing 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 breeding legislation do?

The legislation supports the vast majority of breeders who do the right thing by their breeding animals, while targeting irresponsible breeders. Breeding licences are issued to responsible breeders for the duration of two years at a time. The legislation also requires permits to be approved and issued to owners of non-desexed cats or dogs who do not operate a breeding business.

A breeding licence or permit to keep non-desexed cats or dogs can be refused, considering factors such as public safety or animal welfare. The breeding laws ensure that the breeding of cats and dogs in Canberra is carried out responsibly and sustainably.

Who does the breeding legislation apply to?

The legislation applies to any person who breeds from a female cat or dog in the ACT and any person who wishes to keep a cat or dog that is not desexed despite reaching the appropriate desexing age.

What are the requirements for breeders?

There are two main requirements for breeders:

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

About the breeding standard:

All dog and cat breeders are 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 “Regulations and Instruments”.

About the breeding licence:

Only one breeding licence is 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.

What are the costs?

Breeding licences are issued for a duration of two years at a time and a fee is applied to each licence. Fees and charges for licences and permits relating to cats and dogs can be found on the Fees and Charges page.

What penalties apply to cat or dog breeders who don't comply with the 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 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 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 and 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.