There are a number of reasons a visit may be considered, many of which are simply by way of assistance or routine. Some of the reasons a visit may be instigated are as follows:
It is important to note that a Field Officer visit should be treated as a positive event and members should welcome the opportunity to show off excellent records and an environment of which they can be proud. Should a member be concerned that the way in which records are kept or suspect there are issues with housing, sanitising and/or feed, please be aware that Field Officers are appointed to assist and advise.
Where the assistance of a Dogs Victoria Field Officer is required, whether this be geared toward helping members better understand housing and/or registration requirements or simply to familiarise a breeder with their extensive and varied regulatory requirements and obligations, the welfare function attributed to the appointed Dogs Victoria Field Officers has proven itself invaluable. The Audit has been reported by many members who have already been visited, to have been a very satisfying experience.
Regulation 3.7.7 states that:
It shall be a condition of membership that a person, or persons, so authorised by the Management Committee may inspect the premises of any member and examine the dogs on the premises at that time.
Management Committee enforces Regulation 3.7.7 delegating responsibility to the Chief Executive to initiate internal arrangements. It is sometimes the case that the Management Committee will themselves issue a directive.
Regulation 4.3 Breeding Records also governs the visit – that is, to ensure/help to ensure all members understand the importance of accurate breeding records. Further detail relating to Regulation 4.3 can be located on the Dogs Victoria website, Members Resources – Regulations.
If you have not been notified of the existence of a formal complaint made against you, it is safe to assume that no such file exists at this time.
When notified of a scheduled visit, the letter will indicate which of the Dogs Victoria Field Officers will be in touch.
The appointed Field Officer will make contact directly to arrange a mutually convenient time for the visit.
During the visit, a Field Officer will chat to you about the dogs on the property, scan microchip details, check to see if all dogs are registered with local Council, check your breeding records (assuming that you are the holder of an authorised Breeder’s Prefix) and view housing, feed and sanitary conditions.
You will be asked to sign a statement that the visit has taken place.
A report is completed by the relevant Field Officer and lodged with the office of Dogs Victoria. In the interests of transparency, a copy of the report is provided to the visited member, usually via post or email.
In the case of a member who is visited in an effort to assist in the reinstatement process, the report will also be lodged as a part of the application for reinstatement. A suspended member is only required to undergo a Field Officer visit where welfare issues are noted (which includes Breeder Breaches). Any such condition is notified on the issue of a disciplinary penalty requirement.
On occasion, during the course of a visit, issues relating to breeding records, registration, housing, colour or sanitisation become apparent.
A follow-up visit may be requested by the appointed Field Officer. Usually, this would stem from a request by a Field Officer for you to make changes to record keeping, registration and/or housing conditions. In such circumstances, the appointed Field Officer will be able to provide advice and support on how best to implement such changes and help you reach any established goals.
In cases where a member has requested assistance to apply for a Council permit or comply with local Council requirements, follow up visits may be necessary in an effort to provide ongoing guidance throughout the process.
Where there is reason to believe that there may be an issue with the registration details of a dog (for example, colour or parentage), a letter may be issued requiring a member to present a particular dog or dogs for inspection.
Some of these types of issues simply emerge from lack of understanding with respect to the Regulatory requirements or an innocent recording error.
Again, unless a non-allowable colour is detected in a breeding dog, such errors can be easily rectified with the assistance of a Dogs Victoria Field Officer.
Please be assured that the Dogs Victoria Field Officer (and Dogs Victoria as a whole) will take measures to assist you, within the scope of the Rules/Regulations.
Where circumstances are exceptional (e.g. relating to animal welfare or breeding dogs found to be of non-allowable colour), the matter may be referred to the Management Committee of Dogs Victoria who will decide, in accordance with the governing Code, Constitution, Rules and Regulations, whether or not further action is to be taken.
Please be assured that Dogs Victoria Field Officers do not report members to Government agencies (i.e. Council or the RSPCA).
On occasion, local Council bodies will contact Dogs Victoria (or an agent of Dogs Victoria) and request the assistance of a Field Officer to help a member who resides within their Council jurisdiction. Often, members who have received Council notification will make contact and request assistance themselves.
In these instances, Council, as much as Dogs Victoria, simply wants to help a local resident to become compliant and is not seeking to penalise individuals. Compliance avenues open to local Government agencies and the RSPCA are extremely costly, both in terms of time and money.
With the exception of animal welfare issues, an area of great importance to the community at large, helping an individual to become compliant is by far the most effective course of action.
In cases where the welfare of a dog (or member for that matter) is at risk, members need to understand that it would be remiss of Dogs Victoria not to do all within their power to assist in any way possible. To this end, should a Government agency require, in accordance with Government legislation, that certain information is to be made available, the Management Committee of Dogs Victoria is obliged to consider this legislated directive.
It is important to note that decisions of this nature do not rest with appointed Field Officers, nor with the administration. Rather, they are grounded in law and rest only with the Management Committee (or its appointed delegate).
A function of a Dogs Victoria Field Officer is to undertake DNA testing.
This may stem from a member request for assistance or a directive of the Management Committee. When directed by Management Committee, any affected member will be notified in writing, inclusive of specific details.
With the inception of the ANKC Task Force to inspect for colour with respect to certain breeds, there may be a requirement, under the ANKC Regulations, to have a dog or litter inspected.
This type of inspection may be delegated to a Dogs Victoria Field Officer, either by the Management Committee or another State Member Body (i.e. where an affected dog resides in the State of Victoria).
Should there be a requirement to inspect for colour, affected members shall be notified in writing, inclusive of specific details.