Source: ABC News (Extract)
Posted: June 24, 2023

Queenslanders are being asked for their views on tough new laws that would allow councils to fast-track the destruction of dangerous dogs and jail their owners.

The proposals are outlined in a discussion paper released on Sunday that calls for public input into the laws via an online form that will close on August 24.

The paper was compiled by a taskforce that began meeting in 2021 but was reconvened after a series of attacks in Queensland in April.

Three children suffered significant injuries in separate incidents, including a three-year-old girl who was bitten on the head and neck on the Gold Coast.

Four dogs were destroyed soon after that attack — thought to involve German Shepherd and mastiff breeds — but in other cases, surrender orders can lead to lengthy legal battles as owners attempt to save their pets.

Alison Smith, chief executive of the Local Government Association of Queensland, said irresponsible owners had held the community and council to “ransom” for too long.

“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.

Housing and feeding impounded dogs adds to the expense, especially in cases that take more than 12 months to resolve.

Proposals also include a sliding scale of penalties for owners or carers of dogs that attack people or other animals from fines to jail time.

Right now, Queensland is the only state that doesn’t threaten prison terms for the owners of dangerous dogs.

New South Wales has the toughest laws, with a maximum prison term of five years for owners who encourage a restricted dog to bite, harass or chase any person or animal — whether it causes injury or not.

The same penalty applies if the dog attacks someone due to the owner’s failure to comply with control requirements.

The proposed changes could bring Queensland into line with NSW, or introduce even longer prison terms.

Under the proposals, Queensland would become the first state to completely ban some dog breeds:

  • American pit bulls
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Brasileiro
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Perro de Presa Canario or Presa Canario

Licences for those breeds would no longer be issued.

However, current licence holders would be exempt and would not have to surrender their dogs.

If approved, the changes would include on-the-spot fines for off-leash dogs and a centralised database for microchip details.