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Updated: December 17, 2009 11:42 IST

Australia to jail lazy dog owners

DPA
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A draft legislation in the Australian State of Victoria proposes strict punishments, including a jail term, who fail to care for their pets. File photo: K. Murali Kumar
The Hindu A draft legislation in the Australian State of Victoria proposes strict punishments, including a jail term, who fail to care for their pets. File photo: K. Murali Kumar

Walk your dog every day or go to jail: that is the import of draft legislation that Australia’s leading animal rights campaigner wants the government to adopt.

“The draft will tell people what they have to do rather than what they want to do,” Hugh Wirth said. “The new standards would be regulatory; therefore a breach of the standards is a breach of the law.” Mr. Wirth is one of four experts appointed to draw up a national code of pet ownership. He is head of the Victoria State branch of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

If his guidelines are accepted and pass into law, owners would be obliged to take their dogs out to play or face prosecution and fines of up to $(A)12,000 ($11,000).

Magistrates could impose custodial sentences. Time in jail would likely be reserved for people “who chain their animals up or pen their animals for days and week and months at a time with absolutely no exercise,” Mr. Wirth said.

Dog owner Betty Gerdes said the proposed new rules would be tough on those who did not get out much themselves. “There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of elderly people who are unable to take their pets for a walk — they have enough trouble getting around themselves,” she said.

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