NOTE: This factsheet provides a general explanation of the legislation. It is not an exact replica of the legislation and should not be used for legal purposes. Always refer directly to the legislation and regulations when considering the legal implications of this information.
Recent amendments to the Domestic Animals Act 1994 (the Act), have resulted in changes to the arrangements for the foster care of dogs and cats; affecting foster carers, pet rescue groups and associations, dog and cat rescue groups and Community Foster Care Network (CFCN is now defined in the Act) members, as well as pounds and shelters. There are clearer definitions of "foster carer" for people who take care of animals while they are awaiting a new home.
Under the new provisions of the Act additional clauses to the 84Y agreements have been made available to pounds. The new provisions allow for a person or body (that has an 84Y (a)(b) &/or (c) with a Council) to have an 84Y(ca) agreement with a community foster care network on the condition that the dog or cat is desexed and microchipped prior to leaving the ownership of the person or body. Premises that are part of a Community Foster Care Network are not regarded as a "shelter" but they are limited to housing within council and planning requirements.
Furthermore, an "animal shelter" has been redefined as any premises maintained for the purpose of providing shelter to, or finding new homes for, stray, abandoned or unwanted dogs or cats; but does not includes premises that are part of a Community Foster Care Network.
What is a foster carer under the Pounds and Shelter Code?
A foster carer is a person who undertakes behavioural foster care, juvenile foster care, short-term relief foster car or veterinary rehabilitation foster care for an animal outside a pound or shelter until it is fit for sale and returned to the pound or shelter for rehoming.
Behavioural rehabilitation foster care is care for an animal outside a pound or shelter to rectify a behavioural problem and prepare the animal for return to the pound or shelter for rehoming.
Juvenile foster care is care for a puppy or kitten outside a pound or shelter until the animals is strong enough to be returned to the shelter or pound for rehoming.
Short term relief foster care for an animal, outside a pound or shelter allows a health animal respite from a pound or shelter environment to be cared for in preparation for rehoming by the establishment.
Veterinary rehabilitation foster care is care for an animal, outside of the pound or shelter, whilst it recovers from a medical condition including illness, injury or disease, until the animal is well enough to return to the pound or shelter for rehoming.
What is a foster carer from a Community Foster Care Network?
A Community Foster Care Network, also known as dog or cat rescue group or association, is a group of foster carers who arrange temporary care for dogs and cats from shelters or pounds in people’s homes (private residential premises) and arrange for the animal to be permanently housed. Dogs or Cats moving to a Community Foster Care Network under an 84Y(ca) agreement must be desexed and microchipped prior to leaving the person or body who holds the animal under a section 84Y (a)(b) &/or(c).
Animals moving to a Community Foster Care Network under an 84Y(c) agreement are not required to have been desexed or microchipped prior to leaving the pound. Under an 84Y(c) agreement it is the responsibility of the person or group that take possession of the animal directly from the pound to desex and microchip the animal before it leaves their ownership. Carers are limited to caring for the number of animals permitted by their municipal (local) council.
Undertaking Foster CareA foster carer who undertakes foster care for a pound or shelter must have and comply with a written foster care agreement.
A foster care agreement is a written agreement between a pound or shelter and a foster carer, in relation to the animal’s needs and foster carer’s responsibilities. If the animal is placed in juvenile or veterinary rehabilitation foster care the agreement must include the veterinary care requirements and be signed and endorsed by the veterinary practitioner.
Foster carers conducting foster care for a pound or shelter must:
- have the permits, where required by local government, to keep the number of animals at their premises
- not have more animals requiring foster care in their care at any one time than they can singularly manage
- notify the establishment and present the animal to a veterinary practitioner if symptoms of illness develop
- provide environmental enrichment and socialisation in accordance with the written foster care agreement
- follow any veterinary instructions on medication or treatment regimes as directed by the establishment veterinary practitioner for the animal in their care
- follow any training or exercise regime as instructed in the written foster care agreement
- not allow animals kept on their premises to leave the premises unless as specified in the written foster agreement
- ensure that animals leaving the premises are in a crate or restrained by a chain, cord or leash that is held by the approved foster carer or a person designated in the written agreement as being able to control that animal. No more than two dogs can be walked outside at one time
- return the animals under foster care to the establishment within the specified time set in the written foster care agreement.
In addition, foster carers conducting juvenile, veterinary rehabilitation or behavioural rehabilitation foster care for a pound or shelter must:
- be trained or experienced to care for and meet the needs of the animals placed in their care for rehabilitation
- keep the animals and their records in accordance with the instructions of the written foster care agreement
- present the animal and all related records to a veterinary practitioner or operations manager or nominated person as requested or required by the written foster care agreement.
How long can I foster an animal?
There is no longer any limit to the period of time an animal may be fostered. However, foster carers must comply with local and planning laws with respect to the number and confinement of animals on their given property.
This publication may be of assistance to you but the State of Victoria and its employees do not guarantee that the publication is without flaw or is wholly appropriate for your particular purposes and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss or other consequence which may arise from you relying on any information in this publication.
Pathways for foster careThe following flow chart provides the pathways available to pounds, shelters, rescue groups and foster carers for the management and rehoming of dogs and cats.