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What is animal cruelty?

Animal cruelty can take many different forms. It includes overt and intentional acts of violence towards animals, but it also includes animal neglect or the failure to provide for the welfare of an animal under one’s control. In addition to this, it is important to remember animal cruelty is not restricted to cases involving physical harm. Causing animals psychological harm in the form of distress, torment or terror may also constitute animal cruelty.

Read more on our Knowledgebase

Report animal cruelty

It can be difficult to witness animal cruelty but the best chance of it not happening again is by reporting it to your local RSPCA as soon as possible.

Find out how to report animal cruelty
RSPCA inspector with dog

Our powers

RSPCA Inspectors have a range of powers to enforce animal welfare law and investigate animal cruelty offences. Inspectors also work with animal owners to educate and advise them on appropriate animal care.

  • enter property;
  • seize animals;
  • seize evidence of animal cruelty offences;
  • issue animal welfare directions/notices;
  • issue on-the-spot fines; and
  • initiate prosecutions under animal welfare legislation.

Although inspectors are afforded these powers, in the majority of 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 serious cases of animal mistreatment.

If you would like information about RSPCA enforcement statistics, please refer to our annual statistics.

To find out more information about your state or territory RSPCA inspectorate, please refer to their website.

Please note Northern Territory reports should be made through the NT Government.

Our role in enforcing the law | RSPCA Australia Home

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