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Australia - Animal Welfare and Cultural Issues

Animal welfare is an important issue for the Australian government and in recent years there has been legislation and investment aimed at improved animal care facilities and stamping out cruelty to animals. The responsibility for animal welfare is given to the state and territory governments. All have legislation aimed at improving the lives of animals, both working animals and household pets. The national government takes responsibility for international animal issues such as importing, exporting and treaties which are aimed at protecting endangered species.

For those industries that deal in livestock there is a written code of practice that should be adhered to and the vast majority do follow this practice. Australia also has an Animal Welfare Strategy which aims to create consistency among the different legislations in the country. There are currently different legislations in place which cover cattle, horses, sheep and animal transportation, among others. Legislation is reviewed regularly and updated accordingly.

If an animal is being transported then there are guidelines about the conditions that are acceptable as the animal will not have access to food and water for part of the time. There are guidelines on the maximum amount of time which is allowed for waiting and the maximum journey duration without the animals having access to food and water. The transportation guidelines are for all those who need to transport any type of animal but this is applies to transportation of animals for export and for transportation of farm animals to slaughter.

In Australia the attitude towards animals and their welfare is generally good. There are some instances of animal cruelty and those who do it are prosecuted and banned from keeping any more animals. There are procedures in place for animal charities and the authorities to fully investigate reports of cruelty before a prosecution is brought.

There are several animal charities in Australia which fight animal cruelty and promote animal welfare. One of these is called Animals Australia and it is one of the largest animal organisations in the country. There are more than 40 smaller societies which are members of this group and individuals can join the charity too. One of the main aspects of their work is to investigate and expose instances of cruelty to animals. They often feature on documentaries on Australian TV and some of their biggest successes have been in fighting factory farming and cruelty in the export trade. As a result of their investigations, exports to certain countries with a poor animal welfare record have been halted.

In addition to Animals Australia, animal welfare is promoted by the RSPCA. This works at a community level, helping to promote understanding and help to educate people about animal welfare. Each state has its own section of the RSPCA and these sections run the local animal shelters and employ inspectors to follow up on complaints from members of the public about cruelty to animals. The RSPCA also runs a series of national campaigns regarding animal care, both for household pets and farm animals and is actively involved in providing information for those who put together legislation.

The Animal Welfare League is another option for those who want to get involved with animal welfare on a local level. The Animal Welfare League runs animal shelters in many areas and it is possible for members of the public to sponsor kennels and animals in order for them to stay open.

Most of the animal welfare charities have regular fundraising events in local communities such as fairs and sponsored events so that it is easy to get involved and help. There is an active policy to recruit local volunteers to help at the shelter and all animal welfare workers are fully trained. Animal shelters exist in most communities and most have a policy of not turning an animal away. Most can deal with large numbers of dogs and cats and will have special sections for puppies and kittens that are very small. Rehoming policies are very strict and if you are looking for a pet you can expect at least one visit to your home before you are able to take the animal you want. Most shelters will expect you to make a donation if you find a pet there. In addition you can help further by purchasing pet supplies there as most have a shop on site.

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