ADVOCACY NOT APATHY

Classed as property, animals have no legal voice: they need lawyers to advocate for them. Lawyers for Animals is a volunteer-based organisation dedicated to improving the welfare of animals through education and the law.

Animal Law Clinic Update

July 8th, 2020

The Animal Law Clinic will remain suspended in light of the return to stage 3 lock down in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire from midnight on 8/7/2020. We, along with our partners at the Fitzroy Legal Service, had made tentative steps to resuming the clinic with appropriate physical distancing and hygiene measures but events have overtaken us. Victoria Legal Aid remains operational for urgent assistance.

Please be assured LFA are keen to resume the clinic and get back to helping our clients with their animal law questions as soon as it is safe to do so.  Once there is a restart date, we will let you know.

In the meantime please follow the restrictions, be kind and take care of one another and any non-human animals that share your lives.

Birds

Be a Voice for Animals

June 26th, 2020

Victoria has had a cabinet reshuffle. LFA encourage all our supporters to contact the new ministers and let them know your concerns animals and how humans interact with them. LFA strongly encourages our supporters to express concerns about duck killing.

The newest ministers are:
Shaun Leane – shaun.leane@parliament.vic.gov.au
Nat Hutchins – natalie.hutchins@parliament.vic.gov.au
Danny Pearson – danny.pearson@parliament.vic.gov.au

Attached below is a link to a draft letter that particularly focuses on duck shooting and was prepared by our colleagues at RVOTDS which you can personalise.

Letter to the New Ministers

shot-bird

Animal Law Clinic Announcement

March 18th, 2020

Due to the COVID-19 emergency that is currently engulfing the world, regrettably, the Animal Law Clinic run by LFA joins the list of service and event closures. The Clinic will close from 19 March 2020. This is a temporary closure but at this stage, we cannot say when the Clinic will recommence. LFA is mindful of the health advice given by health organisations and medical authorities and it has been determined that in the interests of our clients and volunteers that the Clinic be suspended. LFA will work with our Clinic partner, the Fitzroy Legal Service about when the Clinic can resume.

If anyone requires urgent, free animal law legal advice, LFA recommends contacting Victoria Legal Aid. VLA gives free information and help about the law on 1300 792 387 telephone line or you can get help using VLAs online Legal Help Chat. The VLA website can be found at legalaid.vic.gov.au.

While LFA cannot give legal advice via email or our Facebook page, you can still use those contacts and we will do our best to provide an appropriate referral.

Finally, LFA extends our best wishes to all our supporters, those who have used our Clinic and all our fellow citizens as we all navigate this unprecedented time.  Please follow the health guidelines and directions on hygiene measures and social distancing.  It is important that we act in solidarity and kindness to keep each other safe and healthy.

Pets in Rental Properties: Tenancy Law in Victoria Changes from 2 March 2020

March 2nd, 2020

Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA) come into effect on 2 March 2020 to allow a tenant to keep a pet at a rental property.  Tenants must apply to the landlord but the landlord can only refuse by proving at VCAT that it is reasonable to refuse the tenant to have a pet.

How the New Law Works

The amendment to the RTA means that a tenant who applies to keep a pet (using the required form which is available on the link to Consumer Affairs Victoria below) can only be refused consent by their landlord:

if the landlord applies to VCAT with 14 days of the application; and

VCAT determines that it is reasonable for the landlord to withhold consent.

In other words, the landlord must prove at VCAT that it is unreasonable for the tenant to keep the particular pet at the rented property.  The tenant does not need to satisfy their landlord that it’s reasonable for them to keep the pet at the rented premises.

Do I have to Pay Extra Bond on My Pets?

No.  Consumer Affairs Victorian advises that the landlord cannot ask you to pay a bond on the pets.

Three  Other Legal Aspects You Need to be Aware of

Firstly, what is a pet?  Under the RTA a pet is any animal except an assistance dog (as defined in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010).

Secondly, who does the new law apply to? Any tenant wanting to bring a new animal into a rental property from 2/3/2020.

Thirdly, what does “unreasonable” mean?  “Unreasonable” isn’t defined in the RTA.  The factors that VCAT will take into consideration in assessing the landlord’s application are: the type of pet, the type of rental property, the type of fittings, appliances and fixtures in the property, whether refusing consent is permitted under any other Act or any other matters VCAT considers relevant.

Fourthly, can a landlord ask a tenant to vacate if they make a request to have a pet?  Currently the RTA does still allow a landlord to issue a notice to vacate for no specified reason.  This specific provision is not due to be repealed until 1 July 2020.  There is potential for this to be used to oust a tenant who applies to have a pet.  If you think making an application for a pet could result in a notice to vacate, then think about whether to delay until after 1 July 2020.  The last thing you (or an animal) needs is an accommodation crisis!  If you are given notice to vacate without specified reason, get legal advice.

Finally,the latest version of the RTA with the pet and renting amendments can be found on the Victorian Government legislation website:

https://content.legislation.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-02/97-109aa090%20authorised.pdf

Where Can Tenants Get More Information About Having a Pet While Renting?

There is up-to-date guidance for tenants on the Tenants Victoria and Consumer Affairs Victoria websites – including pet application form in the second link below:

https://www.tenantsvic.org.au/advice/pets-and-your-tenancy/

https://www.consumer.vic.gov.au/housing/renting/applying-for-a-rental-property-or-room/pets-and-renting

https://www.consumer.vic.gov.au/housing/renting/changes-to-renting-laws/resources-for-practitioners/fact-sheet-14-pets

The LFA commends this development as a significant and overall positive step forward in responsible pet ownership.  It will allow tenants to keep their pets while renting. For tenants with the time and resources to adopt a pet from the many shelters and animal rescue groups that operate in Victoria, it is a welcome development.

Adopt Don’t Shop

LFA strongly supports “adopt don’t shop”.

Please consider adopting rather than buying from a breeder.  Breeding is ultimately profit driven and there are breeds where breeding “standards” are contrary to an animals long term interests and welfare (such as the brachycephalic breeds).

There are many, many animals in Victoria who need and deserve a second chance.  Of course, selecting an animal from a shelter requires you to consider what you can offer an animal and what an animal needs from his or her humans.

What to think about before adopting an animal from a shelter or rescue group:

  • will the shelter or rescue groups offer a trial period?
  • has the animal been in foster care before adoption?
  • if the shelter or rescue group has a website, what profile and information have they provided about the animal you are interested in and others they have in their care?
  • remember that pound environments can be stressful for animals so there may be distortion or suppression of behaviours
  • does the rescue group offer ongoing support to new adoptions?
  • what can the rescue or shelter tell you about the animal’s background?
  • ask questions and be realistic about what you can offer an animal to make sure you can provide all the animal needs to thrive and be happy
  • experience has shown that a positive foster experience can make the transition smoother for new carers and animals and enable the animal to thrive in a new “furever” home.

So, for all the tenants out there who have wanted a companion animal to share your life with and have read the guidance on the new laws, now might just be the time to visit your local animal shelter.

 

Animal Law Resources from Voiceless

February 5th, 2020

Voiceless is an organisation at the forefront of the animal protection and animal law movement since 2004. In collaboration with the Bond University Centre for Professional Legal Education, Voiceless have prepared their Animal Law Education materials to provide students and teachers with the information they need to understand and discuss animal law and policy reform in Australia. The materials are available for free download on the Voiceless website and include a podcast, presentation and a tutorial & assessment program. If interested, you are able to access the materials via this link:

https://www.voiceless.org.au/content/animal-law-and-policy-reform

The podcast is aimed at first year to advanced law students. Many of Australia’s foremost legal experts and animal advocates, including the LFA President, Nichola Donovan, discuss their experiences with trying to achieve animal law and policy reform in Australia.

If you wish to access and listen to the podcast directly, you can do this via the link below:

2020 Duck Shooting Season

January 12th, 2020

LFA recently made a submission to the respective Ministers for Agriculture and for Energy, Environment and Climate Change highlighting the cruelty of duck shooting and how environmentally and socially destructive this practice is.

LFA calls for the immediate suspension of the 2020 season and renews the submission that duck shooting be permanently stopped in Victoria.  This is critical given the environmental catastrophe unleashed so far this summer with the bush fire emergency across Australia.

It is extremely disappointing to see that the South Australian government announced a duck shooting season for 2020. Link to the submission:

http://lawyersforanimals.org.au/projects/letters-and-submissions/

Submission regarding the ‘Proposed Draft Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines – Poultry’ and associated ‘Consultation Regulation Impact Statement’

March 12th, 2018

Read LFA’s position here: Submission on draft Poultry Standards.

Animal Law enforcement an ongoing battle for NFPs – Lawyers Weekly

September 11th, 2017

Read about LFA’s position here: Animal law enforcement an ongoing battle for NFPs

VICTORIAN STATE GOVERNMENT’S INQUIRY INTO RSPCA VICTORIA

March 14th, 2017

Read LFA’s submission to the Victorian State Government’s inquiry into RSPCA Victoria here. Submission are being accepted until 31 March 2017. For more information about making a submission please follow this link: Inquiry into the RSPCA Victoria – submissions.

The Draft Action Plan: Improving the Welfare of Animals in Victoria 2016 – 2021

October 19th, 2016

Read LFA’s Submission on the Draft Action Plan: Improving the Welfare of Animals in Victoria 2016 – 2021 here.

Fishing

The use of commercial trawling nets is an extremely cruel means of fishing and an environmental disaster due to the impact on the ocean floor.

Though rarely acknowledged, fish suffer. Their writhing bodies and flapping gills are a desperate plea for the oxygen they breathe from water (rather than air).

Governments now understand the massive damage done to marine ecology, but there must be equal consideration for fish suffering.


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