RSPCA Victoria Inspectors are on the frontline protecting animals, relieving suffering and ending cruelty across the state. As the only not-for-profit organisation with the power to enforce legislation under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 and section 4 of the Domestic Animals Act 1994, our Inspectors play a crucial role in keeping all animals safe.
When a member of the public makes an animal cruelty report, our Inspectors will investigate the claim. If we find that the report is credible, we will offer assistance and education to the owner or specify a required course of action.
Education and proactive intervention
Wherever possible, our Inspectors try to support people and communities to improve the welfare of their animals. A significant part of an Inspector’s work involves education, providing people with guidance and helping them to put strategies in place to achieve good animal welfare. Prevention is a big part of our work at RSPCA and in addition to working directly with individuals, our Inspectors also play a role in our community outreach activities.
Enforcement and investigation powers
Where incidences of animal cruelty or animal welfare concerns are reported, our Inspectors have the power to investigate and prosecute those involved.
RSPCA Inspectors have a range of powers to enforce animal welfare law and investigate animal cruelty offences, including to:
- enter a property
- seize animals
- seize evidence of animal cruelty offences
- issue animal welfare directions/notices
- initiate prosecutions under animal welfare legislation.
Although Inspectors are afforded these powers, in most cases Inspectors will seek to resolve animal welfare issues through the provision of education and advice. Enforcement action, such as the seizure of animals and initiation of prosecutions, is reserved for the most serious cases of animal mistreatment.
Types of cruelty issues investigated
RSPCA Inspectors investigate complaints against all types of animals in all kinds of situations. The most common complaints are failure to provide adequate and proper food or water, shelter or veterinary treatment. Inspectors also investigate:
- abandoned animals
- acts of intentional cruelty and harm
- hoarders – people with more animals than they can look after
- pet shops
- illegal traps
- animal breeding facilities
- rearers and sellers
- organised animal fighting.
Other responsibilities as an Inspector
Our Inspectors also sit on advisory committees, work with schools to provide education, perform animal rescues and assist other agencies such as Animal Welfare Victoria, Victoria Police and local councils.
In emergency situations, our Inspectors form an important part of Victoria’s Emergency Animal Welfare Plan. Within this plan, RSPCA Inspectors are first responders, saving domestic pets, farm animals and wildlife, getting them veterinary care and finding a safe haven.