WIMMERA leaders have welcomed changes to animal cruelty legislation in the wake of a new state government plan.
The state government's first animal welfare strategy has revealed plans for a major shake-up to protect animals in domestic, agricultural and natural settings.
As part of the plan, animal cruelty laws in Victoria will recognise that animals suffer pain and fear.
The new laws, to be drafted in 2018, will allow for earlier intervention to prevent animal cruelty and better reflect modern community expectations of their treatment.
Horsham People for Animal Welfare and Support president Carolyn Stow said any changes to animal cruelty laws were needed.
“The more we can do to protect animals and hold people responsible the better,” she said.
“Hopefully this will lead to people taking more responsibility in the future.”
Ms Stow said Horsham PAWS had received animals that had been neglected or abused.
“It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen – we get cases that border on animal cruelty,” she said.
“Historically, animal cruelty laws have not been tough enough, so these changes can only be a good thing.”
Murra Warra farmer and Victorian Farmers Federation president David Jochinke backed stronger penalties for flagrant abuses of animal welfare.
He said the majority of Wimmera farmers treated their animals well but it was reasonable to make an example of people carrying out cruel practices.
Mr Jochinke said it was in farmers' financial interest to maintain high welfare standards.
"If we have happy animals we have better production," he said.
"An animal should only ever really have one bad day of its life."
The Animal Welfare Action Plan states new laws covering society's obligation to animals are required.
"Society now expects that the law should do more to set the responsibilities that humans have towards animals to better protect them from harm, enable earlier intervention and to better provide for their welfare," the report stated.
It said a new act of parliament would be developed to safeguard animal welfare and provide for timely avenues to address non-compliance in instances of cruelty.
The report said increased scrutiny from the community had prompted an increase in complaints about animal welfare to law enforcement.