Animal Care and Protection Act Review

Animals Animal Welfare Cats Dogs Posted May 19, 2021
Your chance to have your say before Friday May 21st, 2021.

You may have read our recent articles about key areas of the Animal Care and Protection Act that we believe need to be addressed in the upcoming review by the State Government. In this article we’ll highlight further submissions RSPCA Queensland will be making. 

The Animal Care and Protection Act is the legislation under which our Inspectors in Queensland operate when investigating cases of animal cruelty and neglect.

For the first time in 20 years, you can also have your say by voicing your thoughts by May 21, 2021 in a submission to the government here.  

While the Act in its entirety is being reviewed, here are some key areas we will be putting forward in our own submission, amongst many others. 
Increased penalties for aggravated offending

You may have read our recent blog on our views for proposed changes to the Act regarding duty of care offences - maximum penalties to be applied in cases of aggravated offending (eg. Situations where there are prolonged periods of suffering, large scale animal suffering, sexual offences towards animals or exploitation of animals for gain). The maximum penalty for Duty of Care offences is currently 1 year imprisonment.

We believe that for more serious offences, the maximums should be higher which will also mean higher penalties in court.
Prioritisation of seized animals

We also recently shared the need for animals that have been seized by our Inspectorate to be prioritised, putting their welfare first. Currently, under the Act there is no provision that allows courts to make orders with respect to transferring ownership of seized animals until after a prosecution has finalised with a conviction. This means that right now, animals are in limbo, waiting for court decisions in order to start a new life and be adopted into loving homes. These decisions can take years. Read more about another recent RSPCA Investigation relating to this here.
Adequate enforcement of Prohibition Orders

A Prohibition Order is handed down in court by a Magistrate which prevents offenders from owning certain animals for a period of time. Here’s a recent example of why Prohibition Orders are important.

Prohibition Orders are vital, yet currently under the Animal Care and Protection Act, orders that are made in other jurisdictions in Australia cannot be enforced in Queensland! We will be seeking to have this amended.

Our Inspectors have encountered people who have been prohibited from owning animals in other states and have moved to Queensland to continue breeding or owning animals. The ability to enforce interstate prohibition orders in those cases would ensure appropriate protection of animals and would negate the need for RSPCA Qld to conduct a further prosecution in order to obtain a prohibition order.

There are more than 200 prohibition orders made by courts in RSPCA matters each year. This is in addition to orders made in matters prosecuted by Police and DAF Inspectors.

Did you know our RSPCA Inspectors follow up each Prohibition Order for RSPCA matters? As you can imagine, prohibition order checks are resource draining on our Inspectors who are already investigating 18,000+ complaints every year. But not only that, our Inspectors do not have powers to enter properties without a warrant under the current Act.

We will be proposing new provisions under the Act ensure that prohibition orders made in other jurisdictions are enforceable in Queensland, all prohibition orders are noted on a central register, reporting obligations are imposed on offenders to notify any change of address during the period of the order, and Inspectors are provided a limited power of entry to check compliance with prohibition orders.
Tethering of animals

An animal that is permanently tethered cannot express normal patterns of behaviour.
In our submission we will be proposing amendments to the Act that expressly prohibit tethering of animals without a reasonable excuse. Tethering causes frustration, distress and panic, builds insecurity and anxiety and can lead to aggression and other behavioural disorders. Entanglement can result in an inability to access water, shade or shelter. Panic sets in which quickly leads to injury or overheating and a painful death.

Too often our Inspectors have encountered animals that have died on a tether or suffered immensely as a result of tethering - both physically and behaviourally. Here are some shocking examples we’ve investigated. Luckily, some of these animals did survive.

Not only do our Inspectors investigate these cases, they also conduct prosecutions in relation to many animals suffering serious physical injury, psychological harm or painful death as a direct result of tethering. Even if there has been no physical injury or death, prosecutions are conducted into animal tethering.

Most often our Inspectors see tethering of dogs, horses, goats, cats and large birds including poultry. It is sometimes also seen in relation to other livestock including cattle, pigs and alpacas. Unfortunately, some people still aren’t getting the message that tethering is dangerous and can be a death sentence.

You can help us make improvements to animal welfare under the Act by having your say here on the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 review by May 21st, 2021.

Emma Lagoon
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