A citizens' jury was asked by the South Australian government to explore what measures could reduce the number of unwanted dogs and cats euthanized each year in the state as well as whether de-sexing (neutering) of cats and dogs should be made compulsory in South Australia.
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Problems and Purpose
The South Australian government proposed amendments to the Dog and Cat Management Act in 2015. Surveys and consultation on the proposed amendments were carried out in 2015, with respondents showing a relatively high level of support for the proposed changes. However, the government also convened a Citizens' Jury to address a specific proposal on mandatory desexing of cats and dogs.
The jury were asked to answer the following question:
“Last year in South Australia over 10,000 unwanted dogs and cats were put down. The State Government recently announced some reforms to dog and cat laws. What further measures can we introduce or trial to reduce the number of unwanted pets?” . The jury were asked to consider the specific proposal to make de-sexing of cats and dogs mandatory in the state. In addition to this they were also invited to consider a range of additional measures to reduce the number of euthanised dogs and cats.
Background History and Context
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Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The jury process was run by the Dog and Cat Management Board of South Australia and funded by the South Australian Government as part of YourSAy, a range of initiatives to enable citizens to engage with and influence political decisions in the state.
The jury was run by the Dog and Cat Management Board and organised and facilitated by DemocracyCo.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
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Methods and Tools Used
This initiative used a citizens' jury, broadly defined as a small group of randomly-selected individuals who come together to deliberate on an issue after hearing from experts in order to provide recommendations on future action for decision-makers  .
Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction
Consultation on amendments to the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 were conducted from April through June 2015. During the consultation, the government received a significant response with more than 1800 submissions through the online YourSAy survey . In addition to this consultation a Citizens' Jury was convened to explore possible solutions for reducing the number of cats and dogs.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The jury produced a report of seven recommendations to the Minister for Environment and Natural Resources in August 2015. The government provided a response to the recommendations, supporting five out of seven recommendations and pledging to investigate a further two recommendations. In November 2015, the Dog and Cat Management (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2015 was introduced to Parliament. As of January 2016, six out of seven recommendations were 'in progess' meaning they were either being investigated or implemented by the Dog and Cat Management, local government associations and other organisations including the RSPCA and Animal Welfare League.
The jury recommendations and government responses are summarised as follows :
- Greater coordination of education programmes about responsible pet owner, including the introduction of an online test
- Legislate the compulsory desexing of dogs and cats
- Legislate the mandatory registration and licensing of dog and cat breeders
- Implement a centrally managed state-wide database for microchip data for dogs and cats
- Legislate to encourage more acceptance of tenants with dogs and cats
- Legislate to restrict the sale of dogs and cats from pet stores
- Conduct a trial of a trap, neuter, release project
Amendments to the Dog and Cat Management Act, the state legislation covering this topic, were passed in the South Australian State Parliament in July 2016. The amendments appear to be based on the initial recommendations of the Dog and Cat Management Board, and on the Jury recommendations.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
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 DemocracyCo. (2015). Citizens Jury: Dog and Cat Management. Retrieved from https://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/assets.yoursay.sa.gov.au/production/2015/06/04/06_32_32_509_9._Anonymous.pdf
 Get to Know Nuclear. (n.d.). Dog and Cat Management. Your SAy. Retrieved from https://nuclear.yoursay.sa.gov.au/decisions/citizens-jury-dog-and-cat-management/outcome
Lead Image: Citizens Juries/DemocracyCo https://goo.gl/wkvDoS
Secondary Image: City calls on jury of its citizens to deliberate on Melbourne's future/The Conversation https://goo.gl/QzNHgL