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Cats And Dogs And The Law (Qld)

In Queensland, the keeping of domestic animals is regulated by the Animal Management (Cats and Dogs) Act 2008 as well as by various by-laws.  This legislation sets out the responsibilities of owners and keepers of cats and dogs, the procedures to be followed in investigating non-compliance with the laws and dealing with neighbourhood disputes involving pets. It also contains a number of offences that arise from failing to adequately control an animal. This article deals with cats and dogs and the law in Queensland.

Microchipping and registration

Cats and dogs in Queensland must be microchipped before they are 12 weeks old unless the keeper has a reasonable excuse (such as a risk to the health of the animal). The penalty for failing to comply with this is a fine of up to 20 penalty units.  

A person keeping a dog in Queensland must have it registered with the local council within 14 days of getting it, unless it is younger than 12 weeks. A fine of up to 20 penalty units applies for filing to do so without a reasonable excuse.

Cats and dogs and the law on animal nuisance

In Brisbane, the Animals Local Law 2017 is the by-law that regulates the keeping of animals. Under that local law, a person must not keep an animal that causes a noise nuisance. Animal noise is considered a nuisance when it unreasonably disrupts or inhibits activities on nearby land.

A person may report an animal noise nuisance to the local council. If the matter cannot be resolved between the parties, the council may investigate. If the council considers the animal is causing a nuisance, it may issue a notice to remedy and if the situation is not remedied, it may issue an infringement notice.

Dog attacks

If a dog attacks a person or another dog, this can be reported to the local council. Serious dog attacks and other aggressive behaviour by dogs can result in the dog being declared a dangerous dog or a menacing dog, which results in the owner having to take additional precautions in keeping and controlling the animal, with penalties that apply for non-compliance.

What do I do if my dog is declared dangerous or menacing?

If a dog is declared dangerous or menacing, the keeper may surrender it to the council.

Alternately, they may keep the dog provided they take additional precautions. These include keeping the dog in an approved enclosure, displaying signage at the entrances to the property indicating that a regulated dog is kept there and paying significantly higher council registration fees. Dangerous dogs must also be desexed and must be muzzled whenever they are taken outside of their enclosure.

If a dangerous of menacing dog is found wandering at large, or cannot be controlled, the council may seize it and issue the owner with a destruction order.

Dog attack offences

A person commits an offence if they are responsible for a dog and fail to take reasonable steps to ensure a dog does not attack or cause fear to a person or another animal (section 194). It is also an offence to allow or encourage a dog to attack or cause fear to a person or animal (section 195).  These offences are punishable by a fine only. The size of the fine depends on the result of the offence, with the different levels set out below.

OffenceMaximum fine
Dog attack causes death or serious harm to a person 300 penalty units
Dog attack causes death or serious harm to an animal100 penalty units
Dog attack causes bodily harm to a person or animal 50 penalty units
Any other dog attack20 penalty units

Section 196 provides for a number of defences to the above offences, including that the dog was provoked by the victim and that the dog was engaged in hunting the animal that was injured or killed on private property.

Reviews

A person may seek an internal review of a decision in relation to their cat or dog including a decision to have a dog declared dangerous or menacing. If the internal review does not amend the decision, the person may subsequently apply to QCAT for an external review of the decision. The person may also apply to QCAT for a stay of the decision while the internal review and/or the external review is taking place.

A review may result in the original decision being confirmed, amended or substituted.  

Mistreatment of animals

If a person is concerned that an animal is being neglected or mistreated, they can make a complaint to the police or to the RSPCA.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.  

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Author

Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.
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