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1 Introduction 1
1 (1) Definitions 1
2 Staffing 5
2 (1) Proprietor 5
2 (2) Operations manager 5
2 (3) Veterinary practitioner 6
2 (4) Animal attendants 7
2 (5) Vehicle driver 8
2 (6) Staff ratio 8
2 (7) Staff health 10
3 Facility operation 11
3 (1) Visitor facilities 11
3 (2) Business animal transport vehicle 11
3 (3) Security 11
3 (4) Euthanasia 11
3 (5) Health management plan 12
4 Records 14
4 (1) Business records 14
4 (2) Staffing records 14
4 (3) Animal records 14
5 Sale of animals 17
5 (1) Guarantee 17
7 Management of cats 19
7 (1) Nutrition 19
7 (2) Health care 20
7 (3) Breeding 21
7 (4) Enrichment, socialisation and handling 23
7 (5) Housing 25
Body condition score chart - Cat 30
This Code of Practice (the Code) is made under the provisions of Section 59 of Division 4, Part 4, of the Domestic Animals Act 1994.
The purpose of the Code is to specify the minimum standards of accommodation, management, breeding and care that are appropriate to the physical and behavioural needs of dogs and cats housed in businesses operating as breeding or rearing domestic animal businesses.
The Code is to be observed by the proprietor, operations manager and all other staff of a breeding and/or rearing business, including all persons involved in the sale of an animal. All businesses must comply with state and local government legislation and permits.
The Code is mandatory for:
• an enterprise which carries out the breeding of dogs or cats to sell, where
In the case of an enterprise whose proprietor is not a member of an applicable organisation, the enterprise has 3 or more fertile female dogs or 3 or more fertile female cats; or
• an enterprise that is run for profit which carries out the rearing of dogs or cats.
Dog breeders with 3–5 fertile breeding dogs (males and females), who are NOT members of an applicable organisation, must comply with Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and Section 6 parts 6(1)–6(5)(d).
Dog breeders with 6 or more fertile breeding dogs (males and females), or members of an applicable organisation with 10 or more fertile females, must comply with Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and Section 6 parts 6(1)–6(5)(c) and 6(5)(e).
Working and guardian dog breeders with 3 or more fertile female working dogs (where a working/guardian dog is defined as a dog predominantly used for working/guarding livestock) must comply with Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and Section 6 parts 6(1)–6(3) and part 6(6).
Cat breeders with 3–5 fertile breeding cats (males and females), who are NOT members of an applicable organisation, must comply with Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and Section 7 parts 7(1)–7(5)(c).
Cat breeders with 6 or more fertile breeding cats (males and females), or members of an applicable organisation with 10 or more fertile females, must comply with Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and Section 7 parts 7(1)–7(5)(b) and 7(5)(d).
Dog and cat rearers must comply with the relevant parts of Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.
Greyhound (boarding, training and breeding) businesses are exempt from this code; but must abide by the Code of Practice for the Operation of Greyhound Establishments.
Breeders and rearers must be aware of their responsibilities under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1986) and Regulations; the Domestic Animals Act (1994) and Regulations and all relevant legislation and codes of practice relating to the breeding, rearing and sale of dogs and cats including town planning, waste disposal etc.
1 (1) Definitions
These definitions are provided solely for the purpose of interpreting this Code of Practice.
Act: means the Domestic Animals Act 1994.
Animal: means dog, puppy, cat or kitten.
Authorised officer: means a person appointed as an authorised officer under section 71, 71A, 72 or 72A of the Act.
Animal housing area: includes all pens, cages, modules or colony cages used to house animals, where the animals sleep, eat and spend the majority of their time, at the business property, including whelping, queening and lactating areas.
Bed: means an impervious structure, raised off the level of the floor, that is sufficiently large enough to allow the animal to lie comfortably when housed; the major component must not be made of concrete or metal.
Breeder training course: is the minimum education level for all operations managers and animal attendants. DEPI offers free online training on www.depi.vic.gov.au/pets
Business: means a domestic animal business.
Business hours: an 8 hour period between the hours of 5am and 8pm. Staffing may be staggered in shifts to ensure that animals can be fed at 12 hourly intervals where required.
Cage: means a structure designed to house a cat or kitten.
Cat: means any animal identified as Felis catus.
Cattery: means a series of cages designed to house multiple cats or kittens.
Colony cage: means a walk-in structure designed to house up to 8 cats or kittens over 16 weeks of age.
Council: has the same meaning as in the Local Government Act 1989.
DEPI: Department of Environment and Primary Industries.
Disinfectant: means a chemical used on an inanimate surface to destroy micro-organisms likely to cause infection in cats and dogs.
Dog: means any animal identified as Canis lupus familiaris.
Domestic animal business: means
an enterprise which carries out the breeding of dogs or cats to sell, where
In the case of an enterprise whose proprietor is a member of an applicable organisation, the enterprise has 10 or more fertile female dogs or 10 or more fertile female cats; or
In the case of an enterprise whose proprietor is not a member of an applicable organisation, the enterprise has 3 or more fertile female dogs or 3 or more fertile female cats; or
an enterprise that is run for profit which carries out the rearing of dogs or cats.
Enclosure: means a fully secure area preventing escape of animals from within and entrance of animals from outside the area.
Enrichment: includes practices that provide situations or activities for animals that are appropriate to meet their physical and psychological needs; includes requirements identified in the Code.
Exercise: includes practices/activities requiring physical activity and movement by animals appropriate to meet their physical needs; includes requirements identified in the Code.
Exercise area: includes an area separate to the animal housing area, which a business uses for the purposes of exercise as defined above; the only exception is where housing pens are at least as large as the minimum pen size plus 20 square metres for each dog housed in that pen.
Experience: is the actual observation of or practical acquaintance with facts or an event; for the purposes of this Code, includes an accumulation of knowledge equivalent to or in excess of the training provided by DEPI.
First aid: means immediate care and treatment provided to an animal with an injury or illness; not including veterinary care.
Full-time staff member: means staff members working 8 hours of work, either as one staff member working 8 hours continuously, or multiple staff members working split shifts to the equivalent of 8 hours.
General health check: means physical examination to assess the health of an animal, including assessments for:
• medical conditions
• infectious and zoonotic diseases
• dental, eye, and ear issues
• genetic, breed and age considerations
• body condition scoring.
Guardian dogs: means dogs predominantly used for guarding livestock.
Handling: activities including grooming, soft patting/stroking, picking the animal up, turning the animal over, and doing a health examination by physically examining each animal’s paws, ears, and teeth, providing exercise, enrichment and human socialisation.
Heritable defect: means a physical deformity, disease or disorder that is passed on genetically from one generation to the next.
Hide: means a small enclosed area where the cat can remove itself to ‘hide’ from other animals.
Humane euthanasia: means the animal is rendered immediately unconscious and does not regain consciousness prior to death.
Hunting dogs: means dogs registered with the Secretary of the DEPI for the purpose of hunting Sambar Deer, in relation to housing conditions. Refer to Section 6(5)(e).
Impervious: means materials or sealed materials that prevent water, urine or any other liquids penetrating the material or being absorbed and held by the material.
Independent veterinary practitioner: a veterinary practitioner not related by blood, marriage, or de facto relationship to the proprietor (or family members of the proprietor) of the business and has no commercial interest in the business.
Isolation housing: means housing kept in a separate area to general animal housing and exercise areas,used specifically for animals suspected of having, or diagnosed with, an infectious disease.
Kennel:means a series of pens designed to house multiple dogs or puppies.
Kitten: means a cat aged less than 16 weeks.
Large business: means a domestic animal business that consists of 6 or more adult fertile dogs or cats.
Litter: means all offspring born dead or alive from a single whelping or queening.
Mating: means the physical act of copulation between a male and a female animal.
Mating period: means the period of time when the series of mating events occur to achieve a pregnancy.
Module cage: means a walk-in cage designed to hold up to 2 cats and containing at least 2 levels.
Monitoring: includes observation and assessment of animals on a regular basis, including during routine management activities.
Operations manager: means a person responsible for the day to day operation of a business.
Overnight: means a continuous period outside of business hours.
Owner: in respect of a dog or a cat, includes a person who keeps or harbours the animal or has the animal in his or her care for the time being whether the animal is at large or in confinement.
Pen: means a structure designed to house dogs or puppies.
Proprietor: means a person who legally registers the business and/or is the owner of the animals.
Puppy: means a dog aged less than 16 weeks.
Qualifications: includes a minimum formal qualification provided by a registered training organisation covering the management and breeding of dogs and cats. Alternatively, completion of the DEPI Breeder Training Course will be viewed as a minimum level qualification.
Sell: as per the definition in the Wildlife Act 1975 s.3(1) “sell” includes barter or exchange and also agreeing to sell or offering or exposing for sale or keeping or having in possession for sale or sending forwarding delivering or receiving for or on sale or authorizing directing causing suffering permitting or attempting any of such acts or things; this definition is subject to any changes to the Wildlife Act 1975.
Small business: means a domestic animal business that consists of 5 or less adult fertile dogs or cats.
Socialisation: means interaction between an individual animal and other animals and humans, with the intention of making the individual animal fit for a life in companionship with others; includes requirements identified in the Code.
Staff: includes the proprietor, operations manager, animal attendants, volunteers and rearers.
Veterinary practitioner: means a veterinary practitioner registered under the Veterinary Practice Act 1997.
Weaned: means a puppy or kitten that no longer receives a milk diet provided by their mother or an artificial source.
Washable: means an impervious surface that is capable of being cleaned.
Weatherproof: means protection from the wind, rain and extreme temperatures to safeguard the welfare of the animals housed in the business.
Working dogs: means dogs predominantly used for working livestock.
Zoonoses: diseases of animals transmissible to humans.
The onus is on working and guardian dog owners to provide sufficient evidence to Council that the dogs registered with the business have a primary role in livestock management on the property. Councils have the ability to deny working dog status and require a business to operate as a small/large dog breeding business.
• fertile adult female, 9 months of age or older
• fertile adult male, 9 months of age or older
• retired and desexed female/male
• pregnant queen
• queening cat
• lactating queen
• pre-weaned kitten, less than 8 weeks of age
• orphaned kitten, less than 8 weeks of age, that is being provided milk or formula from an artificial source
• weaned kitten, 8–16 weeks of age
• adolescent entire cats, between 16 weeks and 9 months of age.
2 (1) Proprietor
The proprietor of a business is responsible for:
• registration of the business and compliance with all relevant legislation
• the overall management and conduct of the business
• ensuring compliance with relevant legislation and Codes of Practice
• the health and wellbeing of all animals in the business
• promoting and supporting relevant formal and informal training for staff
• ensuring there is a written and signed agreement stating who will be responsible for any building or plant work, where both parties’ responsibilities are clearly defined if the proprietor is leasing the premises
• having a written agreement with sufficient veterinary practitioners to provide prompt treatment, other than first-aid, and, if necessary, euthanasia
• the protection of staff health at the business
• the development and maintenance of an emergency management plan
• acting on reports of responsibilities by the operations manager or staff
• ensuring the maintenance and retention of records.
The proprietor must establish a written agreement with one or more veterinary practitioners to undertake the veterinary and health management planning and activities on behalf of the proprietor.
The proprietor of a business must have, and adhere to, a written health management plan that has been formulated in consultation with a veterinary practitioner, and is reviewed on an annual basis and/or whenever veterinary practitioners change, whichever is more frequent.
The proprietor may act as the operations manager or appoint a person to that role. If the proprietor does not have experience and training in the management of dogs and/or cats and is not competent in the management of a breeding business, they must employ an operations manager with experience and training who is competent in the management of dogs and/or cats in a breeding business.
In circumstances where staff are not employed, the proprietor must undertake all the duties of the operations manager and animal attendants as well as their own duties, as outlined in this Code.
For any given business, the proprietor can act as operations manager and animal attendant. Similarly, the operations manager can act as an animal attendant at any time. That is, they can undertake the duties of another type of staff member.
2 (2) Operations manager
The operations manager is responsible, to the proprietor for the day to day operation of the business which includes:
• ensuring the health and wellbeing of all animals in the business
• reporting to the proprietor on matters of compliance and disease outbreaks within 24 hours of first observation.
• carrying out the directions of the veterinary practitioner
• identifying and monitoring pregnant animals
• supervision of the movement of pregnant animals to whelping/lactating accommodation
• supervision of staff and the provision of training
• maintenance and collation of records and statistics
• supervision of daily feeding, watering, and inspection of all animals
• maintaining overall level of hygiene in the business, including the disposal of waste materials
• provision of prompt first aid and veterinary attention for animals when required
• responding to emergency situations for both humans and animals including evacuation procedures
• monitoring physical and psychological health of animals
• seeking relevant expert advice for adverse behavioural change in an animal
• removal of animals from the breeding operation that have been deemed not fit for breeding purposes
• removal of animals from the rearing operation that have been deemed not fit for their end purpose
• meeting the requirements to sell animals
• enacting retirement plans for retiring/retired breeding animals
• contributing to the development of and carrying out of emergency management plans and actions in the event of an emergency
• monthly stock-take of animals housed at the business
• acting upon reports by staff about their responsibilities.
To operate a breeding and/or rearing business, an operations manager must have experience or qualifications and show current competency in the husbandry of the animals, allowing them to meet the animals’ physical and behavioural requirements in relation to mating, whelping, feeding, watering and general health and wellbeing. An operations manager undertaking, free of charge, the DEPI provided Breeder Training Course must renew their competency at a minimum of 3 yearly intervals.
The operations manager of a business with fertile breeding animals must provide evidence of competency in husbandry and breeding of dogs/cats; knowledge of the requirements for exercise, socialisation and handling of dogs/cats; and record keeping.
If an operations manager is in training and has not yet attained qualifications and/or experience, the operations manager must operate under the direction of a veterinary practitioner. The operations manager may act in the role of animal attendant or appoint persons to the role.
2 (3) Veterinary practitioner
A written agreement between the proprietor and the veterinary practitioner, who has relevant experience in small animal health and management, must be established and include arrangements for:
• the use of the veterinary practitioner’s facilities for the treatment of animals
• the provision of isolation housing if the business does not have a separate isolation housing and the supervision of animals in isolation at the business
• advice and development of the health management plan for the business
• providing vaccination certificates for kittens and puppies being sold from the business to accompany the guarantee
• providing a general health check and certificate for kittens vaccinated by the breeding business
• providing veterinary assistance for the business at all times and able to provide treatment and/or services to the business within 6 hours of notification that veterinary attention is required
• 24 hour contact or treatment or provision of services through an alternative 24 hour or emergency practice.
Where the veterinary practitioner is also the proprietor of the business, the business must undergo an annual inspection by an independent small animal veterinary practitioner.
The inspection must review the health management plan for the business and the vaccination and health status of all animals at the business.
The outcomes of the review must be signed by both the Proprietor and the independent small animal veterinary practitioner and submitted to the local council for renewal of the business’ domestic animal business registration. Animals housed for veterinary treatment or isolation at a veterinary practice and under direct veterinary supervision can be housed in pens, cages or modules contrary to this Code.
2 (4) Animal attendants
Animal attendants, including volunteers, who work at the business must be trained, experienced and competent to properly manage the type of animals kept by the business. Animal attendants undertaking, free of charge, the DEPI provided Breeder Training Course must renew their competency at a minimum of 3 yearly intervals. If animal attendants are not trained, experienced or competent, they must be under the direct supervision of the operations manager.
Animal attendants are responsible, to the operations manager for carrying out the following duties and must report to the operations manager on these duties:
• daily feeding, watering and inspection of all animals
• reporting any dead animals and the removal of bodies from the animal housing area
• daily cleaning of animal housing areas; that is removal of faeces and soiled food, hosing out, replacing soiled bedding, cleaning of litter trays and feeding and drinking utensils
• administering medication and treatment as prescribed by veterinary practitioner
• routine disinfection of animal housing areas and equipment
• exercising, socialisation and handling of animals
• provision of environmental enrichment for the animals
• record keeping.
The animal attendant must:
1) Immediately report to the operations manager animals showing any signs of pregnancy, whelping, queening or oestrus and any of the following symptoms:
Injury or illness
− any serious physical or behavioural abnormality
− any change in normal behaviour in an animal indicative of an animal health or welfare concern
− any other signs that health or wellbeing is compromised.
− diarrhoea, especially if bloodstained
− red or brown coloured urine
− repeated sneezing
− runny nose
− runny or inflamed eyes
2) Isolate any animal showing signs of infectious disease and disinfect their housing, bedding material and feeding and drinking utensils. Animal attendants must take care not to spread infection from one pen to another on their hands, clothing or footwear.
Trainees or volunteers working for the business must work under the care and supervision of the operations manager,
or a suitably qualified and competent animal attendant.
2 (5) Vehicle driver
Any driver for the business must be experienced or adequately trained to carry out the following tasks:
• assessment, handling, and care of animals being transported
• ensure the hygiene and cleanliness of the vehicle and the cages and equipment used in the vehicle, including routine cleaning and disinfection
• clean and disinfect the cargo area according to infectious disease protocol after an animal showing signs of infectious disease has been removed, before the next animal is placed in the cargo area
• inspect animals at least every 2 hours, or more frequently on veterinary advice, and provide water; clean cages where necessary
• ensure cages are secured within the vehicle.
Animals must be transported for the minimum time practicable, taking into consideration the most direct route between the location where the animal was collected and the destination.
2 (6) Staff ratio
The minimum of one full-time staff member (includes any staff member including proprietor, operations manager and animal attendants) must be onsite at the business for every 25 fertile animals (or equivalent) housed in the business during business hours. The staffing ratio must be maintained 7 days per week.
A single fertile animal equivalent is:
• any animal over the age of 16 weeks
• a litter and its mother while the litter remains housed with its mother
• a litter no longer residing with its mother, but under the age of 16 weeks.
For example, 14 females, 3 males, 6 litters residing with their mothers, and 2 litters without their mothers is equivalent to 25 fertile animals and require one full-time staff member during business hours.
In addition, the minimum of one staff member (includes any staff member including proprietor, operations manager and animal attendants) must be onsite at the business for every 100 fertile animals (or equivalent) housed in the business overnight. For example, 80 females, 5 males, 10 litters with their mothers and 5 litters without their mothers is equivalent to 100 fertile adults and requires one full-time staff member overnight.
In addition, sufficient staff (including those already residing at the business overnight) for a ratio of 1:50 fertile animals (or equivalent) housed in the business overnight must be ‘on call’ to attend the business in the case of an emergency. On call overnight staff must be able to travel to the property within 30 minutes of contact.
Overnight staff must be available to care for whelping/queening animals, sick or injured animals and undertake emergency activities should the need arise.
For businesses with fewer than 25 fertile animals (or equivalents), there is no requirement for full-time staffing; however, females showing signs of labour or in labour must be monitored as per requirements detailed in this Code.
The overnight staffing ratio assumes that all exercise, enrichment, socialisation, handling, feeding, cleaning and general care activities are undertaken during business hours. Overnight staff are available purely to care for whelping/queening animals, sick or injured animals that may need overnight support and to undertake emergency activities should the need arise.
Staffing ratio during business hours assumes that staff may need to work in shifts to maintain feeding and cleaning routines throughout the day. Shift length does not need to be a minimum of 8 hours; however, the business must have the minimum staff ratio for a period of 8 hours during business hours.