People who inflict cruelty to animals face jail terms of up to three years under new laws introduced after the first review of the Animal Care and Protection Act in more than 20 years.
The updated Act – first enacted in 2001 – also puts in place a ban on the use of pronged collars on dogs and gives animal welfare inspectors powers to intervene where an animal is found to be in distress.
Almost 20 months ago the Queensland Government announced that its first review of the Act would consider issues such as the use of animals in scientific testing, restraining dogs in open utes or vehicles, and whether vets should be legally compelled to report suspected cruelty.
Queensland’s Rural Communities, Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Minister Mark Furner late on Friday (2 Dec) said the brand new offence of aggravated breach of duty of care of all animals was just one of a raft of changes being made in the wake of the review.
Mr Furner, in a statement, said offenders could now face stints of up to three years in prison for any breach in their duty of care and if they cause the death, disablement or prolonged suffering of an animal under the new laws.
“This follows the first major review of the Act in 20 years and extensive community consultation with over 2300 Queenslanders,” Mr Furner said.
“Queenslanders want to see animals better protected and people who don’t comply punished appropriately, and that is exactly what these updated laws provide.”
Key legislative changes include:
- new offence of breach of duty of care for causing death, serious deformity, serious disablement or prolonged suffering of an animal. Maximum penalty – 2000 penalty units or three years’ imprisonment
- facilitating the ethical use of animals for scientific purposes while ensuring that animal welfare is not compromised
- greater use of animal welfare directions to enforce compulsory codes of practice, extending inspectors’ powers to enter a place to provide shelter to an animal, recognition of interstate prohibition orders, and a new power for an inspector to enter a livestock processing facility when a horse is being processed
- dogs must be secured while travelling on a tray of a vehicle, or a trailer attached to a vehicle. A dog’s body (other than its head) must not protrude from an open window (dogs assisting in moving livestock are exempt)
- a ban on inhumane practices such as firing or blistering of horses and dogs and the possession and use of prong collars on dogs
- anyone using ‘CSSP Pig Poison’ can be prosecuted for animal cruelty
- new framework for cattle procedures accreditation schemes, including lay pregnancy testing
- implementing some of the recommendations of the Martin Inquiry into the treatment of racehorses
- implementing some of the recommendations of the Queensland Audit Office to improve the appointment and training of inspectors and the governance of animal welfare investigations and prosecutions by the RSPCA Queensland.
Mr Furner said, for many Queenslanders, keeping pets was part of their great lifestyle, and the changes reflected the protection that Queenslanders wanted for their animals.
“Being able to love and keep pets like dogs is an important part of many people’s lives and Queenslanders want those pets to have strong protections,” he said.
“Queenslanders want animals treated with care and respect and the updated Animal Care and Protection Act will contribute to that.”
In first announcing the review in April 2021, Mr Furner said that although the existing laws had been fit for purpose for two decades, a significant review was necessary.
“While the current laws have served us well, they’ve been operating for 20 years without a significant review. In that time, the community’s expectations for animal welfare has evolved,” Mr Furner said.
“I know Queenslanders love their animals as valued members of their families.
“They are also vital to agricultural production, involved in sport and recreational activities, and they assist individuals and services in areas such as quarantine and security.”
For more information, visit the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries website.