rescued dog Jack

how acknowledging animal sentience in legislation can protect companion animals

FOUR PAWS calls to recognise animal sentience in Australian legislation


To improve animal welfare, we must change human behaviour and attitudes towards the animals in our lives. And, with the rise of "COVID pets", it is even more important to ensure stricter laws are passed to protect animals.

The Australian Capital Territory remains the only state/territory in Australia to acknowledge animal sentience in law. This law recognises animals as sentient beings who have the ability to feel their environment and experience sensations such as pain, suffering or pleasure.

The ACT new amendments further prevent animal cruelty and neglect as pet owners face hefty fines if they:

  • Lock up their dog inside without access to a backyard for a whole day with no exercise, with exceptions for dogs who have to be kept inside for their own well-being
  • Fail to offer pets proper and adequate access to food, water and shelter, or if their pets develop an injury, pain or death due to a failure in grooming or maintenance.
Dog walking

A responsible pet owner have to walk their dogs every day (exceptions for dogs who have to be kept inside for their well-being)

"Providing our beloved companions with adequate care shouldn’t need to be governed by law. However, if this law does create a positive impact on animal welfare, and preventing animal neglect, then it’s something we should all support... hopefully we will see the rest of the states quickly follow suit."

Rebecca Linigen, National Director, FOUR PAWS Australia in conversations with the Daily Mail and

FOUR PAWS calls on other state and territory governments to act and introduce similar legislation to protect animals and impose harsher penalties for perpetrators of animal cruelty.

Taking on a pet is a huge responsibility. While they give us much joy, these companions need love, care and devotion for their whole lives. FOUR PAWS has many responsible pet ownership guides that offer many helpful tips and useful information for the everyday life with an animal - from selecting a pet suitable for your lifestyle, to learning how to recognise pain in pets and fun ideas on keeping your pets occupied and healthy with a cat-friendly garden or a dog snuffle mat.

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Chrissy Phoong

Chrissy Phoong

Digital Marketing Specialist, FOUR PAWS Australia

Chrissy works in the Communications team for FOUR PAWS Australia, where she manages digital and social channels as well as creates and curates content. With a goal to change minds and hearts of people to care for animal welfare.


She is a fervent animal and environment lover, brings along 8 years of digital and content marketing expertise from the corporate and tech sector, and looks after many rescued cats.

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