Everything You Need to Know about New Desexing Laws

All South Australian pet owners should be aware that, as of July 1st this year, all dogs and cats without a specific exemption will need to be desexed and microchipped by the age of six months.

These new desexing laws may sound like a draconian requirement. However,  it’s something that the Dog and Cat Management Board has decided is necessary. The new laws form part of an ongoing program to bring under control the problem of unwanted kittens and puppies and to address the issue of puppy farmers. Although animal shelters such as the Animal Welfare League try their best to rehome unwanted pets, it’s a sad fact that shelters euthanase many dogs and cats , each year, for lack of a home.

In our minds, this brings up a few issues I’d like to bring to your attention, as follows.

Any dogs or cats born on or after 1st July 2018 must be desexed by the age of six months at the latest, unless exempted

  • If purchased from a breeder, the desexing must be performed within 28 days of purchase
  • Desexing exemptions include working livestock dogs, racing greyhounds, breeding animals and those animals deemed a high surgical risk.
    • For surgical risk exemptions you’ll need a veterinary certificate as evidence
  • We believe that we may be able to provide temporary exemptions for giant breed dogs which take longer to mature. This needs clarification, however
  • The definition of ‘working dog’ is also a bit hazy but we suspect this applies to farm dogs specifically

Pets must be microchipped by 12 weeks of age

  • Again, if purchased from a breeder, this deadline changes to ‘point of sale’. All purebred breeders already microchip pups and kittens prior to sale. This will now apply to any crossbred animals as well. In other words, if you want to sell pups or kittens, you’ll have to microchip them first.

The new desexing laws do not apply to pets born prior to 1st July

  • Although you’ll still need to register your pet, there is no requirement for you to comply with the new regulations on desexing
  • Nonetheless, desexing of pets is something we routinely recommendl. We feel that there are all sorts of good reasons to do this
  • Unfortunately, this exemption does not apply to microchipping – all pets, young or old, must be microchipped by July 1st this year!

If you wish to keep your pet for breeding, you will need to register yourself as a breeder with the Dog and Cat Management Board

  • This applies to all pets, not just purebred dogs or cats
  • Although this is not a complex process, it must be done within the timelines I’ve already described. As a result, you’ll need to make your mind up early
  • We understand that the cost will be approximately $75 to register. This may be a bit cheaper if you’re a member of an affiliate body such as DogsSA or  Feline Assocation of SA
    • I suspect that neither of these bodies is likely to accept anything other than purebred breeders on their membership list.
  • All breeders will have to follow industry standards and guidelines.  This includes providing a ‘Breeder Registration Number’ when advertising pups or kittens for sale.

All pets will need to be registered through a new online system, ‘Dog and Cat Online (DACO)’. This  will replace local council registration.

  • As is currently the case, annual renewal will be required. Pets will be issued with a ‘permanent’ tag which will stay with your pet for life
    • You’ll be able to replace this tag (it’s coloured grey!) with one of your own design, if you prefer . This must contain all of the relevant information. We can help with this, if you like
    • A portion of the annual registration fees will be re-distributed to local councils. This is used to help fund their dog and cat management responsibilties
  • Evidence of microchipping and desexing (and behaviour training, if your council includes this) will be required
  • DACO will also act as the official state register for breeders
  • Presumably, if you move interstate, you’ll need to transfer your details to the relevant registry there.

From our point of view, there are upsides and downsides to the new system.

As already mentioned, we see far too many pups and kittens surrendered to animal shelters. Many of these pets cannot be rehomed and so are put to sleep. Likewise, puppy farming is something we’d love to see stamped out. The conditions in which these poor breeding animals are kept can be pretty appalling.

We have many delightful patients who have been the result of ‘backyard breeding’. It will be a great shame if this source of new pets dries up. In most cases, it’s the better-natured pets that are bred. Inevitably, there will be additional pressure on purebred breeders to produce more pups and kittens and this concerns me. We already see health issues cropping up in some ‘fashionable’ breeds. This is largely due to the pressures of supply and demand.

As a minor issue, we’ll be burdened with an additional administrative task in that we have to report desexings and microchips to DACO. We already act as tax collectors (GST) for the government. This is just one more piece of bureaucracy we’ll have to comply with!

Unfortunately, we have no control over the new regulations. Just like anyone else, we’ll have to wait and see how this all turns out. I’ve no doubt there will be some teething problems initially. Hopefully it will all settle down quickly and achieve the desired results.

If you’d like to know more about any of this, I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to call on 8522 3500 or contact me directly at d.macphail@gawlervets.com.au.

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Anne Crouch

Anne Crouch

5 thoughts on “Everything You Need to Know about New Desexing Laws”

  1. I would like to know more about the temporary exemption for large and giant breeds. That is a big area of.concern for me.
    Also, as happened to me, the person who buys a “pet quality” purebred that matures into one of the best in the litter and the breeder was more than happy to have remain intact and be shown. What happens to the family with that one show dog who might one day sire.a litter??
    I love the principle of these new laws, not sure how it will pan out in practice. I have had some wonderful purpose-bred crosses, and seen some horrid purebreds.
    I love the idea of centralising the microchip registries. But at the end of the day, it all still relies on people actually registering their dogs. :/

    • Hi Kylie
      As regards temporary exemptions for large breeds, we’re able to supply a certificate to allow late desexing for those breeds where we feel it’s appropriate. For that ‘keeper’ pup or kitten, you would be required to register yourself as a breeder. With this, you are able to delay desexing until you see whether they will work out to be show or breeding quality. Hope that helps.
      Kind regards
      Dave MacPhail

  2. Hi
    Thanks for the information it clears up a few rumors that I’d heard.
    My question is if owners are being forced to desex their pets are the prices for this service going to reduce or are the local councils or whoever is behind this going to assist with funding.

    • Hi Deanya
      You may find that many of the breeders will already have desexed pets prior to sale (in which case it’a been included in the purchase price). Otherwise, I’m not aware that the government is planning to provide any additional funding. However, pretty much every veterinary practice I know offers desexing at very heavily discounted prices. This has developed over the years as a form of ‘loss-leader’ and has become entrenched in veterinary fee structures. Feel free to contact me directly if you’d like to discuss this further. Kind regards, Dave MacPhail


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