Canberra pet owners will have to start getting physical after the Australian Capital Territory passed laws requiring people to walk their dog every day.
According to the Daily Mail, the legislation acknowledges that animals are "sentient beings" who can feel their environment and experience sensations such as pain, suffering, or pleasure. Dog owners will be fined $4,000 starting March next year if their dog is locked inside the whole day and not exercised within the next two hours.
But owners don't need to go to parks for their pups to exercise. Local newspaper The Canberra Times reports that those who allow their pets to run in their backyard are exempted from fines. Owners who are keeping their dogs inside the house for the animal's wellbeing are also safe from paying the sanction.
Last week, the ACT Government moved an amendment that said confinement of animals would only be considered as such if their movements are restricted in an enclosed space. Another fine of $4,000 will be sanctioned to pet owners who don't provide their animals with adequate food, water, and shelter.
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"These new laws will make the ACT a national leader in animal welfare, and reflects a zero-tolerance approach to animal cruelty," Minister for City Services Chris Steel said in a statement.
"Modern animal welfare is about considering how an animal is coping both mentally and physically with the conditions in which it lives...These animal welfare laws reflect the values of the Canberra community on how we should manage and care for our domestic animals, livestock and wildlife."
Steel added that the legislation supports better law enforcement of protecting animal rights.
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Part of the new laws includes imprisonment and fines of up to $48,000 for ACT residents proven to be involved in dogfighting and other violent animal enterprises.
The city services minister said the legislation is overdue and that they need laws "that allow us to take appropriate, balanced action against people who are doing the wrong thing."