Owners of dangerous dogs face jail, increased fines

Laine Clark |

Queensland agriculture minister Mark Furner has increased penalties for owners of dangerous dogs.
Queensland agriculture minister Mark Furner has increased penalties for owners of dangerous dogs.

Owners of dangerous dogs face up to three years in jail under tough new Queensland laws.

Five dog breeds will also be banned and maximum fines for irresponsible owners increased to $108,000 in other changes under the new bill.

It follows a spate of incidents involving children in April and a fatal dog attack on a meter reader at Greenbank in Brisbane’s south last year.

“No one ever wants to see these attacks happen again,” Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said.

Dog runs in park
Dog owners will face tougher penalties if their animal injures or kills people.

Under the new legislation, a dog owner can be jailed up to three years if their pet canine kills or seriously injures someone.

Queensland is believed to be aligned with everywhere in Australia but the Northern Territory by adopting a maximum penalty of jail for owners of dangerous dogs.

The legislation was introduced to parliament on Thursday following community consultation, with almost 4000 people across the state responding.

The state’s dog laws had been under review by a special taskforce.

Mr Furner said there had been a 64 per cent increase in dog attack victims at Queensland emergency departments over the past 10 years.

He said 81 per cent of the dog attack victims were children.

“I have seen the photographs of young children who have been attacked,” Mr Furner said.

“I remember seeing the cheek of a toddler who was viciously attacked by a dog – the size of the hole in her cheek you could put a finger through.

“Like the family of that young girl, that image will stay with me forever.”

The five breeds to be banned are American pit bull terrier, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro, Japanese Tosa and Perro de Presa Canario or Presa Canario.

Mr Furner said people who owned those breeds prior to the legislation passing would be allowed to keep them. 

The proposed ban had prompted criticism from animal welfare groups such as the RSPCA who claimed a dog’s breed was not a reliable gauge for their behaviour.

But Mr Furner on Thursday said the breed ban was a “main priority” of the people who contributed to their community survey.

The legislation is backed by more than $7.5 million in funding that will help streamline local government responses to canine attacks and support dog management initiatives in First Nations communities. 

Local Government Association of Queensland CEO Alison Smith welcomed the new laws, saying one council had spent more than $1 million in a dangerous animal matter.

She said local councils had been asking for tougher laws on dangerous dogs and irresponsible owners for 13 years.