Last updated 16 August 2016
Complaints about mistreatment of animals can be made to police or the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Registration of cats and dogs
Domestic dogs and cats must be registered, and specific, prescribed and permanent identification devices must be implanted into the animal. Depending on the age of the animal, the responsibility to arrange the implant lies with either the supplier of an animal or the animal’s owner. There are provisions in the Animal Management (Cats and Dogs) Act 2008 (Qld) that require animals already owned before 1 July 2009 to be implanted, and a local council or vet should be able to tell an animal’s owner when it is necessary for them to arrange for the procedure to be carried out on their animal. An individual (other than the animal’s owner) cannot usually find out information about an animal’s owner from the registration register, but the local council may use this information to regulate the animal in accordance with the law.
To find out the number of dogs allowed in a certain area and whether a permit is required, people should check with the local council. Normally, two or three dogs may be kept in a residential home. Generally, it is also an animal owners’ responsibility to restrain and clean up after their dogs in public places. Dogs that are in public places and not under the control of a person may be seized by a person authorised by the local council. Dogs that are a risk to public health, or dangerous or menacing dogs can also be seized.
Local laws may make provision about the amount of barking which is considered excessive.
A complaint can be made to the local council that can investigate and issue an abatement notice to the dog’s owner requiring that excessive barking ceases. If the dog owner fails to comply with the abatement notice, they may be fined and removal orders or impoundment can occur. Some council’s refer dog owners to training programs to help them deal with the dog’s barking, instead of proceeding by way of fine. Where dogs are kept at commercial or industrial premises, complaints about noise should be made to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.
Dangerous and menacing dogs
Dogs that are vicious, menacing or destructive constitute a neighbourhood nuisance. People annoyed by a dog should attempt to discuss the problem with the dog’s owner. If a solution cannot be found or the animal has attacked or caused fear of an attack, a complaint may be made to the local council.
Local laws may make provision about dangerous dog declarations and consequences.
If a dog causes fear, seriously attacks a person or other animal, or is likely to seriously attack or cause fear, the dog may be declared dangerous. If a dog attack (or threatened attack) on a person or another animal is not serious, the dog may be declared menacing. Once a declaration is made, the owner must comply with conditions of signage, fencing, desexing, muzzling and other restraint. Contravention of a declaration may lead to a large fine and the seizure and destruction of the dog. Generally, a person has a few days to appeal a dog destruction order.
Where a dog has caused injury to a person or damage to property, the person who has suffered the injury or damage may take civil action to recover damages against the owner of the dog. In addition, the Animal Management (Cats and Dogs) Act 2008 (Qld) also imposes significant penalties which may be sought against people who own and are responsible for dogs which attack people or other animals or cause fear. If the person allows or encourages the dog to attack, there may be additional penalties. It is possible that a criminal offence may have been committed under s 289 of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld).
The occupiers of commercial premises that use guard dogs for security purposes should check with the local council for special permit requirements.
Dogs in rural areas may be destroyed by the landowner or an authorised person who holds a valid weapons licence if they are believed not to be under someone’s control, and they have attacked or are about to attack livestock on a person’s land.
The Queensland State Government has laws to control the keeping of certain types of dogs, which are referred to as restricted dogs (e.g. the dogo Argentino, fila Brasileiro, Japanese tosa, American Pit Bull Terrier or Pit Bull Terrier, Perro de Presa Canario or Presa Canario). However, these restrictions do not apply to the American Staffordshire Terrier.
The circumstances in which dogs of these breeds can be kept, bred and sold are strictly controlled. Permits must be obtained from local councils if any of these breeds of dog are to be kept. Restricted dogs must be kept in certain enclosures with restricted access and suitably high, secure and childproof fencing. Access to the front entrance of the house must not be obstructed by the presence of a restricted dog. Appropriate identifications of a restricted dog must also be provided on both the dog and its enclosure.
If a troublesome or destructive cat has an owner, any problem caused by the cat should be discussed with the owner. Some commercial products are available from vets and pet shops that can deter cats from wandering in gardens and backyards. If a cat appears to be homeless or feral, the local council should be called to catch the animal. Under no circumstances should a person injure or kill a cat, even if it appears to be feral and is creating a nuisance. To do so might result in criminal charges for animal cruelty.
Cats need to be registered and have appropriate identification. Cat owners should check with the local council as to whether a permit is required to keep or breed cats in their local area.
It is normally illegal to keep native animals as pets without a permit. In some cases, native animals may be kept if the owner is an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island person, and they are keeping the animal in accordance with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander custom. There are also other limited circumstances when native animals can be kept on domestic premises. Permits can be obtained from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, and enquiries should be directed to that department and the local council.
Local councils usually regulate the keeping of horses, cattle, sheep, pigs and other animals. A permit is normally required to keep any such animal in a suburban area, although in many local council areas, a small number of chickens (roosters excluded), geese or ducks can be kept without a permit. In general, poultry sheds should be set back at least one metre from a dividing fence. Local councils should be consulted prior to housing any animal, particularly if the property owner lives in a suburban or urban area.