The Queensland Government says it plans to introduce new laws that will ban five dangerous dog breeds.
It says the move is in a bid to stop dog attacks and target irresponsible pet ownership.
The initiative is spearheaded by Mark Furner, Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities,
It comes in response to escalating concerns over dangerous dog attacks across the state.
The new legislation will be the culmination of extensive public consultation and recommendations from a taskforce.
The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, local governments, the Local Government Association of Queensland, and RSPCA Queensland, all took part.
The consultation process was comprehensive, involving more than 3,650 Queenslanders in a survey.
More than 300 written submissions came to parliament during a 60-day period.
A key feature of the new laws is the introduction to increase penalties for owners of dogs that cause death or serious injury.
The move comes after multiple serious dog attacks across the state in recent years, including the death of a meter reader in 2022.
These owners could face fines of up to $108,000 or up to three years in jail, marking a significant escalation in the consequences for irresponsible dog ownership.
Central to the legislation will be the ban on five restricted dog breeds.
Dogo Argentino: Originally bred for big-game hunting, this large, muscular breed is known for its strength and hunting prowess. Despite their loyalty, they can be aggressive towards other dogs and require experienced handling.
Fila Brasileiro: Also known as the Brazilian Mastiff, this breed is known for its superb tracking ability, aggressiveness, and an unforgiving, impetuous temperament. They are extremely loyal to their family but are not a breed for the inexperienced owner.
Japanese Tosa: Bred as a fighting dog, the Tosa is calm and quiet by nature but can be aggressive with strangers and requires socialization from a young age. Due to their size and strength, they need an owner who understands how to manage such a breed.
American Pit Bull Terrier or Pit Bull Terrier: Perhaps the most controversial breed on the list, Pit Bulls are known for their strength and loyalty but have a reputation for aggressive behavior, particularly if not properly trained and socialized.
Perro de Presa Canario or Presa Canario: This large, assertive breed was historically used for working livestock. They are powerful and can be aggressive, requiring firm, experienced handling.
In addition to the breed-specific legislation and measures, the government plans to roll out a comprehensive community education and awareness campaign.
This program is promotes responsible pet ownership, prevent dog attacks, and reduce the risk of harm from such incidents.
The Queensland Government has committed $7.574 million to support these initiatives, ensuring more coordinated, consistent, and effective government action in response to dog attacks.
This funding will also support dog management initiatives in First Nations communities.
Minister Mark Furner, in his statement, stressed the importance of community safety and individual responsibility.
He acknowledged the public’s demand for urgent action to toughen dangerous dog laws and assured that the government is fully supportive of the community’s concerns.
Furner says the proposed legislation in Queensland represents a significant step towards ensuring public safety and responsible pet ownership.
The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) says it does not agree with the Queensland dog breed ban or breed-specific legislation in Australia.
While the AVA supports improving dog laws to better protect the community and promote responsible pet ownership, it does not endorse the banning of specific dog breeds.
According to the AVA, breed-specific approaches to dog regulation are ineffective in protecting the public and reducing dog bite incidents.
Dr. Isabelle Resch, President of the AVA’s Australian Veterinary Behavioural Medicine special interest group, says dog bites result from a complex range of factors.
“Includong genetic predispositions, the dog’s learning and experiences, medical issues, and the external environment,” she says.
Instead of breed-specific legislation in Australia, Dr Resch is advocating for a ‘deed not breed’ principle.
She cites the reason for this being that aggression in dogs is not tied to any particular breed but by various individual factors and circumstances.
The AVA calls for a multi-pronged response to reduce incidents of dog attacks.
This approach includes legislative measures to identify and manage potentially dangerous individual animals.
It also includes an education program for all society segments, especially children and dog owners in lower socio-economic areas.
The AVA highlights a significant gap in community knowledge about safely interacting with dogs.
It says this can lead to unsafe interactions and an increased risk of dog attacks.
The AVA says failure of breed-specific legislation in Australia and globally is due to several factors.
The organisation says breed alone is not an effective indicator or predictor of aggression in dogs.
And dog breeds aren’t known by appearance or DNA analysis.
Lastly, the legislation ignores the instances where owners may simply substitute another breed with similar size, strength, and aggressive tendencies.”
Dr. Resch emphasises the importance of proactive measures in addressing dog behaviour issues, advocating for a focus on prevention rather than consequences.