Friday, March 1, 2024

Queensland puts bite on dangerous dogs and their owners

The Queensland Government has released a Council-led discussion paper asking for community input on measures to crack down on irresponsible dog owners and keep the community safe from dangerous dogs.

Queenslanders are being invited to have their say on proposals such as a new offence with potential jail time for serious attacks, a standardised state-wide requirement for all dogs to be effectively controlled in public places and the banning of restricted dog breeds.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities, Mark Furner convened the Government’s animal management taskforce to consider changes to legislation to protect the Queensland community.

“I created the taskforce to review our animal management laws because the Palaszczuk Government takes community health and safety seriously,” Mr Furner said.

“It’s time for Queenslanders to have their say on these proposed reforms, and I’m encouraging everyone to provide feedback on the discussion paper up until Thursday 24 August.

“Community feedback on this discussion paper will be vital in drafting new legislation.

“It is so important that we get this right to make sure any new laws meet community expectations.

“I’d like to thank the taskforce and technical working group for the hard work in contributing to these proposed reforms.”

The taskforce, made up of Mayors and Councillors from across Queensland, the Local Government Association of Queensland, RSPCA and senior Department of Agriculture and Fisheries officers, was established to undertake a targeted review of the Animal Management (Cats & Dogs) Act 2008.

Local Government Association of Queensland Chief Executive Officer, Alison Smith said a key solution from councils in the consultation paper was to fast-track decisions and appeals on the future of seized dangerous animals.

“For years Queensland councils have been calling for tougher laws on dangerous dogs and irresponsible owners,” Ms Smith said. 

“We thank the Queensland government for working with councils on these proposed changes that are now out for consultation. 

“This is an opportunity for the community to say enough is enough – that Queensland needs to take tougher actions on irresponsible dog owners, and for there to be swift processes in place after a savage dog attack has happened. 

“Queensland councils want safe communities. Councils want dangerous dog breeds to be banned, tougher restrictions on irresponsible owners, and changes that will help reduce savage attacks in our neighbourhoods.”

Ms Smith said a key solution from Councils in the consultation paper was to fast-track decisions and appeals on the future of seized dangerous animals.

“Ratepayers would be alarmed to know that Queensland councils are being forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees because irresponsible owners are using the courts to drag out the fate of these dangerous animals after their dog has been impounded and a destruction order made,” she said.

“For too long, irresponsible dog owners have been able to hold the community and councils to ransom. That needs to change.”

Ms Smith said Councils have called for increased penalties for irresponsible dog owners, including a sliding scale of penalties depending on the severity of the attack up to jail time for anyone responsible for dogs that kill or cause grievous bodily harm to a person, on-the-spot fines for off-leash dogs and an end to owners dragging the councils, communities and pets through endless court cases and delays.

They have also put forward reform including the fast-tracking of decisions and appeals on the future of seized dangerous animals, a centralised database for microchipping details, additional enforcement provisions for unregistered and unmicrochipped animals and repeat offenders, and improved powers for council officers.

“The LGAQ will be making a formal submission to the State Government and looks forward to the Premier’s commitment to have new legislation introduced before the end of this year.”

“I want to thank the hardworking council officers who will continue their work with the state on the animal management taskforce to progress further reforms,” Ms Smith said.

“It’s vital this work progresses quickly so that state and local governments together can deliver improved safety outcomes for communities across Queensland.”

The Strong Dog Laws: Safer Communities discussion paper is available on the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries engagement hub website. Submissions on the discussion paper can be made until midnight on Thursday, 24 August.

View the discussion paper at https://daf.engagementhub.com.au/dog-laws. To obtain a copy of the discussion paper call 13 25 23.

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