Execution of warrant results in large scale operation obtaining surrender of 81 cats

Published on 13 January 2023

RSPCA’s Major Investigations Team has just concluded a large-scale operation at a property in the Ararat region and obtained surrender of 81 cats that are now safely in our care. The operation took two days and involved four RSPCA Inspectors, an Inspectorate veterinarian, an animal behaviourist and members of Victoria Police.

The cats were obtained after RSPCA – with the assistance of Victoria Police – executed a Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTAA) warrant at the property due to an alleged breach of a ten-year banning order. The investigation into the alleged breach of the conditional banning order was launched in response to a cruelty report.

The operation took place on Wednesday and Thursday, with the team assessing 116 cats, 82 horses and three sheep over the two days. Welfare issues relating to all animals on the property were identified and are now being addressed by our team. Subsequent investigations are ongoing.

RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate Team Leader – Major Investigations, Lisa Calleja, said RSPCA is committed to helping people and animals.

“We are committed to helping people better care for their pets but will hold people to account where legal responsibilities are not upheld, and where there are significant concerns, animals will be seized and taken into our care to ensure their welfare.”

Inspector Calleja encouraged people struggling to care for animals to ask for help.

“It is imperative that owners and people in charge of animals are aware of their legal and moral obligation to properly care for their animals, which includes providing appropriate food, water, shelter, regular and emergency veterinary care, and grooming.  Ensuring clean, safe housing that is relevant to specific species is also required.

“We are aware that with the impact of the rising cost of living, some people will struggle to care for their pets, so we urge you to speak to a vet or local animal shelter about options before it’s too late. In some cases, it may be necessary to consider surrendering your pet to an animal shelter to ensure it can receive proper care and be rehomed.”

Previously prosecuted by RSPCA Victoria, the person in charge of the cats is currently under a Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTAA) banning order in place until October 2029, which limits the number of cats for which they can be the person in charge.

The 12AF control order states that a person who is subject to a control order must comply with the order. Penalties relating to the breach of a banning order include 500 penalty units equating to $92,460 or imprisonment for two years.

All reports made to RSPCA Victoria’s Major Investigations Team must be lodged via https://rspcavic.org/tip-off-form/ or by calling 9224 2222.

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