The charge of Animal Cruelty covers situations where animals are treated cruelly.
SentencingSentencing outcomes in the Magistrates’ Courts of VictoriaMore sentencing statistics can be found under the “Case studies and other information” section below.
- The owner of a small farm with 6 horses failed to properly feed and shelter his horses for 6 months. The horses’ poor health was reported to the RSPCA by neighbours, and the man was convicted of Animal Cruelty.
- A boy who was given a domesticated parrot for Christmas grows tired of the parrot’s squawking. The boy’s family set the parrot free in their local park. The parrot is found dead 2 days later.
- A jogger is startled by an overly playful puppy that jumps near him in a park. The man kicks the puppy and then runs away.
We had a case where a client failed to provide proper food for his horses and a number of them died. He had a number of personal problems that made it hard for him to look after himself, or the horses.
What are possible defences to an Animal Cruelty charge?
- Someone else did the cruel acts.
- There was an honest and reasonable belief that the treatment of the animal was not cruel.
Questions in cases like this
- How do they prove there were cruel intentions?
- Was there a case of mistaken identity?
- Was someone else taking care of the animal/s?
Maximum penalty and Court that deals with this charge
The maximum penalty for Animal Cruelty (s9 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986) is 250 penalty units or imprisonment for 12 months in the case of a natural person, or 600 penalty units in the case of a body corporate.
This is an offence that is typically heard in the Magistrates Court.
“Was what was done actually cruel?”
What is the legal definition of Animal Cruelty?The legal definition of Committing an act of cruelty upon an animal is long and complex. It is cruel to do any of the acts or omissions listed below:
LegislationThe section that covers this offence is section 9 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986.
 Australian legal Information Institute. “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 – Section 9: Cruelty.” Austlii.edu.au. http://www5.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/vic/consol_act/poctaa1986360/s9.html (accessed January 28, 2020).
Other Important Resources
- SAC Statistics – Firearms Act 1996 (Vic): s 8 – unlicenced person acquire, dispose of, possess or carry cartridge ammunition for collection purposes
- SAC Statistics – Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals Act 1986 (Vic): s 9(1)(a) – abuse an animal
- SAC Statistics – Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals Act 1986 (Vic): s 9(1)(a) – beat an animal
- SAC Statistics – Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals Act 1986 (Vic): s 9(1)(b) – load, crowd or confine an animal that causes or is likely to cause unreasonable pain or suffering
- RSPCA Victoria Inspectorate
Case studies related to Animal Cruelty
Other sentencing statistics
Other sentencing outcomes in the Magistrates’ Courts of Victoria