Inspectorate

RSPCA Tasmania’s Inspectors investigate reports of cruelty and neglect.

The Role

Our Inspectors are authorised under the Animal Welfare Act 1993 as well as the Cat Management Act 2009. There are also several Regulations which are read in conjunction with these Acts.

Their role is primarily two-fold. Firstly, they respond to an average 3500 cruelty reports each year. Every report is acted upon and can result in; no action being taken, advice being given, instructions being issued, an on the spot fine, or a summons to appear in Court. Secondly, they conduct random, unannounced visits to premises or locations where animals are kept for commercial purposes, for example, pet shops, breeders, shows, and intensive industries.

The function of the Inspectors is to (a) protect and secure the welfare of animals; (b) advise and instruct persons with the care or charge of animals; and (c) investigate whether the legislation has been contravened and if so, take appropriate action.

It should be remembered that the Inspectors must work at all times within the boundaries of the legislation that they are authorised under. Such legislation may provide powers such as entry to premises, search and seizure powers, and also the ability to remove animals and apply to a Court for their retention. However, there will be occasions where Inspectors may not remove an animal from a premises if they are not able to legally do so, despite the situation potentially being far from ideal.

No-one within the Inspectorate is able to reveal the details of someone who reports or witnesses animal cruelty.The images shown throughout our Court Results pages show how effective the Inspectorate is, and how donations to RSPCA Tasmania can help the team continue their important work.

Our Team

The Tasmanian Inspectorate comprises six dedicated staff. The five Inspectors are based in:

. Hobart - The Chief Inspector plus one Inspector

. Launceston - Two Inspectors

. Devonport - One Inspector.

The team also includes a  statewide Prosecutor based in Launceston who represents the Inspectorate in Court when people suspected of breaching the legislation are summoned.

The team has a variety of backgrounds and experiences including vet nursing, police and customs. All Inspectors possess a Cert IV in Government (Investigation), with the majority obtaining that same diploma. Other qualifications include a Bachelor of Zoology, a Bachelor of Agricultural Science, and Diplomas and/or Cert IV's in Policing, Fraud, Forensic Investigation, Case Management, and Workplace Training and Assessing.

The Inspectorate is committed to ensuring the welfare of animals throughout Tasmania, and remains one of the highest achieving in Australia on a per-capita and staffing basis.

How we investigate

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When to call the RSPCA

Inspectors aim to prevent cruelty to animals by ensuring the enforcement of existing laws. Sometimes there is a fine line between an owner who is simply not aware how to look after their pet properly, and whether laws have been broken. While the situation may not match how we would like to see animals cared for, if the law hasn’t been broken, our Inspectors often educate the owner about how better to look after their pet.

Inspectors can also assist in the rescue of animals and help with the management of wildlife, livestock and companion animals during emergencies and disasters. They also inspect pet shops, sale yards, abattoirs, livestock operations, breeding establishments, and other places where animals are kept or used for public entertainment.

Contact your local council if:
- you have lost your pet
- you are concerned about stray animals
- you believe someone’s dog is aggressive/dangerous (or has attacked an animal or person)
- a barking dog is annoying you

Following up

We don’t have the resources to be able to call you back to let you know the progress of your complaint. If you call us to find out what happened, all we will be able to tell you if whether the Inspector has visited the premises or not; privacy laws prevent us from giving you more details.

What happens next

After we have sent the details of your call to the relevant Inspector, they will prioritise your issue against other calls received. Please note that we have five Inspectors on the road across the State, so our Inspectors are constantly weighing up which issue needs their attention first. If the animal is not in immediate danger, it may be a few days before an Inspector can investigate.

Our Inspectors work closely with other enforcement agencies, in particular the Police, Primary Industries Officers, and local Council authorities.

We only commence a prosecution where it is necessary and where there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of a conviction against each suspect on each charge. When people have shown themselves to be wholly unable to look after animals, it can be the only way to make sure that other animals are not put at risk in the future.

Prosecution also serves to reinforce the important message that animal abuse and neglect are not acceptable in a civilised society.

Court Results

For access to our Court Results (viewer discretion is advised), please click here

Frequently asked questions

Can I make an anonymous complaint?

When making a cruelty report, you will be asked for your name and contact details. These are kept confidential and are never passed on to the nominated person of interest. They are needed so an Inspector can contact you for further information or to take a witness statement if needed. You must have seen the animal and its condition for an Inspector to have grounds to enter a person’s property, or, be able to nominate someone who has.

What happens if I can’t get through to the hotline?

If an animal is in immediate danger, such as trapped in a hot car, call your local Police who can act under the same laws as an RSPCA Inspector.

What information do I need to provide?

We need you to be our eyes, to enable us to better help you and the animal in question. So we will ask you some questions to ensure we are able to provide the Inspector with as much information as possible to help them prioritise the case.

The information you provide is confidential - the person you are lodging a complaint about will never know that you called. We will ask you for:
- Your full details including full name, address, and contact number (these details are hidden under privacy legislation).
- Person of interest’s full address and name if possible (please remember our Communications Officer is in Launceston so may not be familiar with your local area).
- Date and time of incident or when the animal was last sighted.
- A detailed explanation of why you think the situation involves cruelty to the animal.
- A physical description of the person if you believe they might be violent/aggressive.

What information can I be given during the course of an investigation?

You can ring the cruelty hotline for information at any time. If an investigation has found no breach of the legislation or if an owner has been issued instructions about the welfare of an animal, you will be given this information. In many cases, however, details of an investigation cannot be given out.

Will I have to go to Court?

Yes possibly, especially if you have been an eye witness to cruelty or neglect.

What if no-one calls me back?

Email Communications at communications@rspcatas.org.au and your query will be dealt with as soon as possible.

Why has it taken so long for anything to happen about my complaint?

A cruelty investigation takes time and taking a matter to Court can be a lengthy procedure. It sometimes takes months or even years for a case to be finalised.