Five-year jail terms in animal laws pitch

·1-min read

Victorians who are intentionally or recklessly cruel to animals would face up to five years jail and fines of almost $228,000 under proposed laws.

The new category of offence would come under legislation replacing the existing Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, and apply to the most serious types of cruelty, according to the state government.

They could include deliberately burning a dog with a cigarette, or shocking a racehorse with an electronic prodder.

Victorians would also have to abide by minimum care requirements under the new laws.

People who failed to meet specific care and cruelty requirements could face fines of more than $3600, with examples including using prong collars on dogs, or failing to meet tree fruit netting requirements.

The Victorian government is calling on the community to give feedback about the proposed animal care plan, with consultation officially starting on Friday to inform draft legislation.

"Victorians lent their voice to help develop this plan - this is another opportunity for people to help shape Victoria's new animal care and protection laws," Agriculture Minister Gayle Tierney said.

"The new laws will help to protect animals from cruelty while supporting our valuable food and fibre industries to continue to operate responsibly and productively."

The RSPCA welcomed the proposed changes, which also include an explicit recognition of animals as sentient - meaning they have the capacity to feel and perceive their environment.

The reforms are designed to modernise Victoria's laws and bring them into line with community standards, with the existing animal legislation more than 35 years old, the RSPCA said.

Ms Tierney also announced on Friday a second round of pet rehoming grants, with $1.25 million up for grabs for pet rescue organisations.