Dogged pursuit of animal control changes

Published: 15th February 2023

By Dan Knowles, LGAQ Media Advisor

Queensland councils and the LGAQ continue to vigorously advocate for tougher controls to deal with dangerous dogs, reducing the potentially tragic impacts they can have on communities.

In just one council, Moreton Bay Region, there were 735 dog attacks in 2020. While that is down on the previous year, it means an average of more than two terrifying attacks every single day.

And, with the cute puppies picked up during the COVID pet purchasing boom now fully grown, the issue of animal control is unlikely to get any smaller without serious action.

Councils have been calling for a targeted review and amendments to the Animal Management (Cats and Dogs) Act 2008 to:

  • Provide statewide uniform bans on restricted dog breeds
  • Empower courts to prohibit persons guilty of animal management offences from keeping animals
  • Provide additional enforcement powers in relation to unregistered dogs to ensure compliance, including seizure and forfeiture of dogs
  • Enable councils to apply a range of compliance measures, including issuing an infringement if a dog is not declared a regulated dog
  • Allow councils to respond effectively to serious dog attacks and regulated dog offences under the Act, as well as use additional pathways including the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT)
  • Integrate a microchipping database within the dog registration database to track the movement of owners with dangerous dogs across the state
  • Simplify powers of entry for council officers for a range of animal management compliance matters, including inspection of dog enclosures.

The LGAQ and Queensland councils have been working together with the State to make it happen.

On 1 December 2021, a delegation of elected representatives of local councils and the LGAQ met with Hon Mark Furner, Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities, and representatives of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) to discuss the way forward.

The Minister supported the establishment of a taskforce to conduct a targeted review of the legislation. In addition to the taskforce, a dedicated technical working group has also been established to progress the detailed targeted review, which is on track to conclude its work in the coming months.

Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor, Peter Flannery, was part of the ministerial meeting and said he didn’t want any Queensland family to have to live with the emotional and physical scars of a dog attack.

“Stronger regulation that is consistent statewide is not only logical and important, it actually won’t have any impact on 99 per cent of dog owners because the vast majority are already doing the right thing,” Mayor Flannery said.

“These proposed regulatory changes are specifically targeted at cracking down on irresponsible dog owners who deliberately try to evade the authorities, often moving their animals to secret locations or other council areas and refusing to take responsibility for their pet or their own actions.

“They must be held to account, and they deserve to feel the full force of the law.

“There was one shocking incident in our region, where the regulations and the courts failed an innocent seven-year-old girl, and I never want to see something like that in Moreton Bay or anywhere in Australia ever again.

“I’ve seen a lot of things in my time, but I’ve struggled not to cry through meetings with dog attack victims and their families.

“I want them to know Moreton Bay will stand by them every day, and we will back them in every investigation and every court case, because community safety is our number one priority.”

In Townsville, Deputy Mayor Mark Molachino said the situation was very worrying.

“We are seeing residents being attacked at an alarming rate,” Cr Molachino said.

“Recidivist owners who have no place owning an animal need to be held to account, and the current laws make it very difficult to do that for the community.

“No one wants to see another death in their community from these dogs, so I commend the Minister for putting together the taskforce to address these issues.”