In Western Australia, RSPCA Inspectors are permitted to take action for suspected cruelty offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2002 (the Act).

Animal Welfare Legislation is developed, administered and enforced at the state and territory level.

RSPCA WA also works to reform legislation and improve animal welfare by working with government, presenting scientific evidence to support claims for the need for better animal welfare protection.


Animal Welfare Act Review

The WA Minister for Agriculture, Alannah MacTiernan, set up a panel of experts to review the Act in 2019-20. RSPCA WA was actively involved in this process, meeting with the panel on a number of occasions to discuss areas of concern with the Act in its current form, and to suggest improvements so the Act would better reflect the community's expectations of good animal welfare.

RSPCA WA believes an effective Animal Welfare Act should promote the welfare of animals by focusing on a person's duty of care towards animals for which they are responsible, rather than just prohibiting acts of cruelty towards animals.

The Animal Welfare Act Review Panel published their findings and recommendations in December 2020. On 2 June 2021, the Western Australian Government issued its response to the report.

RSPCA WA welcomed the WA Government’s support of the recommendations in the report. Click on the icons below to read the Review Panel's report (left), and the WA Government's response (right).

WA Animal Welfare Act 2002 Review report     WA Govt response to Animal Welfare Act Review report


Penalty for cruelty to animals

Animal cruelty is a serious criminal offence.

Penalties for offences of animal cruelty are set out in section 19(1) of the Animal Welfare Act 2002

If found guilty of cruelty to any animal, the minimum penalty per offence is a $2000 fine, with a maximum penalty of a $50,000 fine and imprisonment for up to 5 years.

Penalties are determined by the court and handed down at the court's discretion. Magistrates determine the penalties that they consider appropriate based upon the evidence presented in court by the prosecution and offender. Magistrates have regard to the maximum sentence fixed by law, the standards of sentencing customarily observed with respect to the offence, the place which the criminal conduct occupies on a scale of seriousness for these offences, and the personal circumstances of the offender. RSPCA WA does not determine penalties.

Section 55 of the Act allows a court to impose additional orders against the offender that may include:

  • prohibition of contact with or being in control of animals for a period of time determined by the courts
  • forfeiture of ownership of any animal to the Crown
  • repayment of legal, veterinary and animal care costs.

These additional orders can be made to protect the welfare, safety and health of an animal, a group of animals or animals in general.

Although the statutory penalties for animal cruelty are found in the Animal Welfare Act 2002, the Act must be read with Part 5 and especially section 42 of the Sentencing Act 1995. It is the Sentencing Act 1995 which allows other penalties, such as a suspended fine, a community based order, or a term of suspended imprisonment, to be imposed for offences of animal cruelty. 

If you are not satisfied with sentences that are handed down by the courts, you can let your local MP, and the Minister for Agriculture, Jackie Jarvis, know. See the contact details below.


How you can have your say

If you are concerned about animal welfare issues in WA, you can write to the Minister for Agriculture, Jackie Jarvis.

The Hon Jackie Jarvis MLC
Minister for Agriculture and Food; Forestry; Small Business
Level 7, Dumas House
2 Havelock St
West Perth WA 6005

P: (08) 6552 5000
E: [email protected] 

You could also contact your local State parliamentary representatives, and let them know that animal welfare is an issue that is important to you.

Contact your local MP