The Victorian Coalition Government has today abolished outdated regulations forcing shelters and pounds to euthanase thousands of cats and dogs each year.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said homeless cats and dogs would be afforded extra protection after the Coalition Government revised the code of practice for the management of pounds and shelters.
"Under the old code, cats and dogs for sale in pounds or shelters could be held for a maximum of 28 days before they had to be put down or removed," Mr Walsh said.
"After extensive consultation with animal welfare groups, we have revised the code to remove the time limit.
"Pound and animal shelters will now have as much time as they need to retrain and re-home animals."
Mr Walsh said a number of other revisions had been made to the Code of Practice for the Management of Dogs and Cats in Shelters and Pounds.
"Under the new code, any animal leaving a pound or shelter must be microchipped, wormed, desexed and vaccinated," Mr Walsh said.
"Pound and shelter operators will also be required to provide frequent enrichment activities for animals, such as exercise and play material, to improve quality of life in the pound."
Mr Walsh said the Coalition Government had listened to the constructive ideas put forward in the 538 submissions received from the public in response to the draft code.
"The new code recognises foster care arrangements where community volunteers look after dogs and cats in their home until a pet can be re-homed," Mr Walsh said.
"Foster carers do a wonderful job caring for unwanted and seized companion animals until a pound or shelter can find a new owner.
"In addition to improving recognition of the role of foster carers, provisions have been deleted which would have restricted the time animals could be placed in foster care, and the proposal for authorised officers to be able to inspect carers' homes has been removed.
"This is a significant change that allows animals to be placed in foster care for an unlimited time, provided they are cared for in accordance with a written agreement set by the pound."
Mr Walsh said the government had also heard the concerns expressed by community members about re-homing rates.
"We will work with councils, pounds and shelters on initiatives to improve opportunities to successfully reunite owners with their lost cat or dog," Mr Walsh said.
Mr Walsh said the new Code of Practice for the Management of Dogs and Cats in Shelters and Pounds was the first revision since the code was introduced in 1998.