ACT Dog Owners To Be Fined $4,000 For Not Walking Their Pets

Dog owners in the Australian capital will now face hefty fines and jail time for not walking their dogs.

The ACT Government passed strict new rules about pet ownership on Thursday, becoming the first jurisdiction in the country to recognise animals as "sentient beings".

The legislation acknowledges animals "deserve to be treated with compassion" and have a quality of life that "reflects their intrinsic value".

Photo: Getty

Under the laws, people can now be fined for not walking their dog at least once a day if the dog lives in a confined spot.

The legislation clarified 'confined space' to mean "impeding or preventing the animal's freedom of movement" or using a device, such as a rope, to tie up an animal.

If a dog is confined without adequate ability to exercise for 24 continuous hours, the owner must then allow them to exercise for the next two hours.

If not, owners could face on the spot fines of up to $4,000.

If an animal has an adequate area to run around and exercise, owners would not face punishment.

Photo: Getty

Animal owners who do not provide adequate shelter, food and water also face the same punishment.

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The new laws will make the ACT a "national leader in animal welfare",  Minister for City Services Chris Steel said.

"These animal welfare laws reflect the values of the Canberra community on how we should manage and care for our domestic animals, livestock and wildlife," he said.

"Fines for these offences can now be easily issued by officers as part of the new escalating enforcement framework to deter further acts of cruelty from happening."

People who participate in animal fighting face up to three years imprisonment and fines of $48,000.

Pet shops and breeding will also be required to obtain a licence to operate before the legislation comes into effect in six months.