Source: StartsAt60 (Extract)
Posted: November 17, 2023

The Queensland government has taken a strong stance against irresponsible pet ownership, and introduced a volley of new laws which will be tabled when Parliament resumes later this year.

The controversial move comes after a series of separate dog attacks in April which left three children severely injured.

The new reforms include a ban on already restricted breeds and hefty fines or jail time for offending dog attack owners.

In June this year, the Queensland government proposed stricter laws to address the issue of dog attacks and suggested measures that would include a potential ban on certain breeds, increased jail time for owners involved in dog attacks and a requirement for all dogs to be “effectively controlled” in public.

The new reforms include:

  • Increased penalties for the most serious dog attack offences, including imprisonment as an option.
  • A ban on the restricted dog breeds of Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro, Japanese Tosa, American pit bull terrier or pit bull terrier, and the Perro de Presa Canario or Presa Canario.
  • Development of a community education program.
  • Streamlining decisions and appeals on the future of seized dangerous animals.

The government encouraged the public to provide feedback over a 60-day consultation process to assess its support for reforms.

There was initially a back lash amongst concerned dog owners who argued that responsible ownership and proper training should be prioritised over breed-specific legislation.

More than 3650 Queenslanders completed the survey and more than 300 written submissions were received.

In a recent statement, Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said, “Queenslanders told us that they wanted urgent action to toughen our dangerous dog laws and the Queensland Government is supporting the community 100 per cent.”

The changes will be supported by a $7.5 million funding package that will ensure a better coordinated, consistent and effective government response to dog attacks. It will also provide support for dog management initiatives in First Nations communities.

Penalties include up to $108,000 fines or up to three years’ jail for the owner of a dog that causes the death or seriously injures a person.

Some of the funding will be allocated to a community education and awareness campaign over the next three years to build responsible dog owners, prevent attacks and reduce the risk of harm from dog attacks.

Furner explained that community safety lay at the heart of the new laws and continues to be the Queensland government’s number one priority.

“Importantly, almost 4000 Queenslanders have had their say through the consultation process and I am grateful that these law reforms have such widespread support,” he said.

“There is strong support for individual responsibility when it comes to dangerous dogs and under our updated laws owners will continue to bear that responsibility.

“There needs to be a strong deterrent in place to prevent irresponsible behaviour that can put the community at risk.

“We’ve also committed to a community education and awareness campaign, delivered in partnership with stakeholders across a range of platforms, to raise awareness of dog safety, particularly for parents and caregivers with young children.”

Attacks have become increasingly common in Australia but there are ways to protect yourself when confronted by an aggressive dog. While the initial reaction is to turn and run, the best thing to do is stay calm, face the dog and stand your ground or back away slowly making eye contact with the animal.

Another option is to find a large object like a bag, umbrella or even a bin lid, and place it between yourself and the dog.