Companion animals in pet shops


Ratification Date: 15 Feb 2013


Pet shops must be regulated by legislation and codes of practice to ensure maintenance of high standards in every aspect of the operation.


Pet shops play an important role in the Australian community as a source of companion animals, of companion animal care products and of advice.

The responsibilities associated with selling animals, products and providing advice about their care requires an ethical approach, a knowledge of and concern for the welfare of animals, and an appreciation for the role of companion animals in the community.


Legislation and codes of practice should mandate minimum standards of:

  • housing including space, exercise, provision of food and water
  • husbandry and veterinary care including health examinations, vaccinations parasite control, desexing and identification (microchipping)
  • attention to behavioural needs and training including socialisation
  • conditions on the sale of animals including checking for new owner competence, cooling off periods and the provision of health care advice
  • staffing levels and security.
  • Pet shops should be regularly inspected by accredited compliance authorities, and minimum standards should be enforced.
  • Owners and managers of pet shops should be members of the Pet Industry Association of Australia (PIAA). The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) supports the March 2012 initiative of the Pet Industry Association of Australia (PIAA) and their PIAA Dogs Lifetime Guarantee Policy on Traceability and Re-Homing.

Owners and managers must, and all staff should, be trained or be undertaking training using the relevant Australian Training Package. Currently, this is ACM10: Animal Care and Management. Owners and managers should be trained to ACM40310: Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services. Staff should be trained or training to ACM10110: Certificate I in Animal Studies, ACM20110 Certificate II in Animal Studies, or ACM30410: Certificate III in Companion Animal Services.

As required by legislation in several states and territories, all pet shops should have a relationship with a registered veterinarian with knowledge and skills relevant to the species and services provided by the pet shop.

Animals should only be sourced from breeders known to the pet shop proprietors and who maintain high standards in relation to the welfare, health and genetics of their breeding stock and offspring. All breeders should be registered with government (where required) and with relevant industry groups such as the Australian National Kennel Council or Cat Fancy.

The sale of animals is a privilege with a high level of responsibility. Animals should only be sold to people of appropriate age (as mandated in legislation, or at least 18 years of age), competence and attitude to care for the pet for its lifetime.

A “cooling off” period should be established, either requiring the person to pay a deposit for the animal, receive relevant and required information and advice, and then return to collect the pet after three (3) days, or where a “no questions asked” return with full refund is allowed for up to seven (7) days after purchase. All animals should be accompanied by health and behavioural guarantees including return with guarantee of suitable veterinary treatment and re-homing if at all possible.

All animals sold must be accompanied by pet care advice either approved by PIAA or supplied by a registered veterinarian. Dogs and cats should be identified by microchip before sale, with the purchase price including lifetime registration on a national database (approved by Domestic Animal Registries or the AVA).

Animals to be sold should only be those that have been appropriately managed for zoonotic disease, are well socialised with people, and do not display inappropriate fear or aggression, including barking, toward people or other animals. The risks of zoonotic disease should be managed by appropriate parasite control and veterinary health checks.

New and potential owners must be advised of their responsibilities including the identification, registration, reproductive control (desexing) and the limitation of movement (fence and leash laws) according to relevant legislation.

Other relevant policies and position statements

Puppy socialisation


  1. ACM10 – Animal Care and Management. http://training.gov.au/Training/Details/ACM10
  2. ACT Animal Welfare (Animals in Pet Shops) Code of Practice Approval, 1993. http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/di/1993-139/default.asp
  3. New South Wales Companion Animals Act 1998. http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/caa1998174/
  4. South Australia Dog and Cat Management Act 1995. http://www.legislation.sa.gov.au/LZ/C/A/Dog%20and%20Cat%20Management%20Act%201995.aspx
  5. Pet Industry Association of Australia:
    http://www.catitude.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/DOG-REHOME-BRO-3.pdf (Accessed Oct 2019).
  6. Queensland Animal Care and Protection Act 2001.
  7. Victorian Domestic Animal Act 1994 (amended January 2010). www.buloke.vic.gov.au/buloke/.../DomesticAnimalAct1994.pdf

Date of ratification by AVA Board: 15 February 2013