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New requirements contained in the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) and its regulations mean that as of 1 July 2018, it is in most instances compulsory to desex your dog or cat.

A dog or cat must be desexed:

  • Before they reach six months' of age; OR
  • Within 28 days of an owner taking possession of the animal,

whichever is later.

See Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) ss 42E and 70(2); Dog and Cat Management Regulations 2017 (SA) regs 12 and 18(2).

This means that dogs and cats that are aged six months or older before 1 July 2018 are exempt from the requirement to be desexed, but those born on or after 1 July 2018 must comply with these requirements.

Working livestock dogs are exempt from the requirements to be desexed [see Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 42D].

What is the penalty for failing to desex my dog or cat?

As of 1 July 2020, the maximum penalties for failing to desex a dog or cat are:

A dog of a prescribed breed (see section 4 of the Act): fine of up to $5 000

In any other case: fine of up to $2 500

Expiation fee:

If the dog is a prescribed breed (see section 4 of the Act): $750

In any other case: $170.

See Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (SA) s 42E.

What if my dog or cat is not desexed after I pay a fine for failing to comply?

The council can issue a further expiation notice or summons for every three months that the dog or cat fails to be desexed. The three month period commences from the day on which the person was found guilty of the original offence, or the day on which they paid the original fine, whichever applies [see s 42F].

What if de-sexing would pose an undue risk to the health of a dog or cat or adversely affect their growth, development and wellbeing?

A registered veterinary surgeon may grant an exemption from the requirements to de-sex a particular dog or cat for these reasons [see Dog and Cat Management Regulations 2017 (SA) reg 13(2)]. An exemption due to the health of the dog or cat may be for a limited or an indefinite period, but an exemption due to the growth, development and wellbeing may only be for a maximum of 18 months [reg 13(4)(b)]. The exemption must be by notice in writing as required by the Dog and Cat Management Board [reg13(5)]. The Board or the registered veterinary surgeon may vary or revoke an exemption if it is no longer necessary [reg 13(7)].

What if a dog or cat was de-sexed interstate?

If a dog or cat has already been de-sexed in another State or Territory in accordance with the law of that State or Territory, then as long as it conforms to the Australian Standards and records a unique identification number, it will be taken to have been de-sexed in accordance with the requirements in South Australia [regs 10(8) and 18(3)].

From more information about microchipping and desexing, go to or, or visit Dogs and Cats Online.

Desexing  :  Last Revised: Mon Jul 2nd 2018
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.