The Victorian government is beefing up its animal welfare laws in a bid to keep pets safe over summer.
Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford said on Saturday that new laws were now in effect giving government inspectors more power to fine those responsible for mistreating animals.
In a statement, Pulford's office said the recent changes to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTA) legislation enacted by the Labor Government meant Agriculture Victoria officers, Victoria Police and RSPCA Inspectors all now have the authority to issue a notice to anyone committing a cruelty offence.
Causing animals to suffer can be a criminal offence and perpetrators can be fined up to $77,730 or face two years imprisonment if found guilty.
Under previous law in Victoria, fines could only be issued to the owner of an animals.
Special care should be taken with animals over summer, the government said.
"Where pets are found in situations that will result in them being in a hot car, Victoria Police should be contacted immediately by phoning triple zero. Police officers have the power to break into a vehicle to rescue an animal suffering from heat exposure," it said.
"Livestock should not be handled or transported during extreme heat. If this is unavoidable, people should plan ahead to avoid handling or transporting their livestock during the hottest times of day, and must schedule access to water and frequent, shady rest stops."
The warning on animal welfare after a leading Victorian jockey was accused of animal cruelty following reports he posted a video on social media showing him apparently torturing a sting ray.
A leading jockey has been accused of animal cruelty after he posted a video on social media that showed him apparently torturing a southern eagle ray
Michael Walker, 32, posted the video, said to be taken while on a fishing trip on a fishing trip off the Mornington Peninsula, on Friday before deleting it following criticism, according to Fairfax Media.
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