Changes to Animal Care and Protection Act and Prosecutions

Animals Animal Welfare Cats Dogs Posted Mar 30, 2023
In December 2022, amendments were made to the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001. Here are the key changes.

In December 2020, the Queensland Government committed to review the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001.

Public consultation led by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in April-May 2021 generated significant feedback from stakeholders and the community. 

You can read RSPCA Queensland’s recommendations put forward here.

In December 2022, amendments were passed to the Act.

Key changes RSPCA Queensland are pleased to see implemented:
  • new offence for an aggravated breach of duty of care, with a maximum penalty of $287,500 or 3 years imprisonment.
  • Animal Prohibition Orders issued in states outside of Queensland can now be recognised.
  • When transporting a dog on the tray of a vehicle or on a trailer, they must be secured appropriately to prevent them from falling out of the vehicle. *This requirement does not apply to working dogs involved in moving livestock.

The legislation also states that dogs cannot have more than their head protruding from vehicle windows when driving.

The RSPCA doesn’t want to see a repeat of this dog’s fall from a ute. 

“These changes will help reduce the risk of dogs falling from or being ejected from vehicles and ute trays, which can result in serious injury or death of the dog” says Rachel Woodrow, RSPCA Queensland GM Inspectorate & Rescue.

More changes also included under the Act:

  • Prohibition of the use and possession of prong dog collars.
    • A person who uses CSSP Pig Poison in Queensland may be prosecuted for animal cruelty under the Act.
  • Clarification of minimum standards for making codes of practice under the Act, including on the basis of scientific evidence.
  • Streamlining the provisions for the scientific use of animals, including alignment of the scientific use provisions to the Australian Scientific Use Code.
  • A new framework for accrediting persons to undertake cattle spaying and pregnancy testing.
  • Clarification of some inspector powers in relation to entry and compliance with animal welfare directions.
  • A prosecution can only be started by a person authorised by the Director-General of Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

RSPCA Queensland believes future improvements to the Act still need to be made:

“We’re disappointed that this wasn’t considered within the new amendments. People involved with dog or cockfighting cause deliberate and horrendous suffering to animals. Penalties need to increase,” says Ms Woodrow.

  • Increased powers for Inspectors to monitor compliance with Prohibition Orders

Currently, Inspectors have no authority under the legislation to monitor a person’s compliance with an Order which is issued by Court. These orders detail what animals the person is prohibited from owning for a defined period.

Ms Woodrow explains, “Without the ability to monitor compliance, our Inspectors must rely on calls from the public to provide information about possible breaches of these orders which is an ineffective method of ensuring compliance and does not deter people from continuing to own animals when they are not lawfully permitted to.”

Changes to Animal Welfare Prosecutions in Queensland

The Queensland Audit Office (QAO) commenced an audit in March 2021 of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries oversight of RSPCA inspectors in exercising their powers under the Act.  The QAO tabled its final report on Regulating Animal Welfare in November 2021. Amendments made to the Act last year address some of the recommendations from the final report.

One of those changes sees the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries assuming carriage of all future animal welfare prosecutions in Queensland.

This change in no way impacts RSPCA Queensland’s day-to-day Inspectorate operations which involves investigating animal welfare breaches under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 and providing community support.

RSPCA Queensland’s Inspectorate will continue to rescue or seize animals where appropriate and vital donations that were used to support an in-house prosecutions team, will be redirected towards achieving more animal outcomes through rescue, treatment, rehabilitation, and rehoming.

RSPCA Queensland will continue to submit cases for prosecution and RSPCA Inspectors will still be responsible for providing briefs of evidence to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, attending court as required, and managing all prosecutions currently before the courts. 

RSPCA Queensland accepts this decision and expects the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to continue to take reported animal welfare concerns seriously, in line with community expectations. The Inspectorate welcomes the improved governance that the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries as the administrator of the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 can provide.

RSPCA Queensland will continue to advocate for better animal welfare on behalf of the community and our generous donors.

If you see an animal welfare concern, contact the RSPCA’s 24/7 Animal Emergency Hotline 1300 ANIMAL (264 625) or report non-urgent cases online.

Emma Lagoon
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