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Injuries to animals

If an animal is injured, the owner may be able to claim compensation. It may also be possible to bring a criminal prosecution against the wrongdoer.


If an animal is injured intentionally, either directly (for example, by shooting) or indirectly (for example, by laying poisoned bait), the animal's owner will probably have a claim for compensation.

If an animal is injured unintentionally, the owner may be able to claim negligence. This would be difficult to prove, especially if the animal was hit while on a road. In this case, the owner may be sued for damage caused to the vehicle for not controlling the animal properly. See Injuries caused by other animals.

Criminal liability

Heavy criminal penalties are imposed for the abandoning, neglect or ill treatment of animals under the Animal Welfare Act 1985 (SA) [see s 13]. Licences are required for the use of animals in science teaching, research and experimentation [s 16]. For the purposes of the Act, animals means any animal having a backbone except humans or fish [s 3].

Complaints can be made to the Police or the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). The Society will send an inspector to investigate a complaint and will, in many cases, take the appropriate criminal proceedings.

Injuries to animals  :  Last Revised: Fri Dec 16th 2016
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.