Strong dog laws: Safer communities

Queensland Law Legislation Community Speaks Dogs Posted Aug 15, 2023
Have your say by August 24, 2023 to strengthen dog laws in Queensland.

Have your say by August 24, 2023 to strengthen dog laws in Queensland.

RSPCA Queensland has participated in the working group and the task force for the recent Animal Management (Cats and Dogs) Act 2008 Review. We appreciate the opportunity to have input into this review and to advocate for animals impacted by this legislation.

The Queensland Government has also invited you to share your views on the important changes being proposed.

RSPCA Queensland has made a submission in relation to the survey questions presented in the Stronger dog laws: safer communities Discussion Paper, June 2023.

RSPCA key submissions
  1. Dog breed banning does not lead to fewer dog attacks,
  2. An introduction of a new state-wide requirement for dogs to be effectively controlled in public places,
  3. The development and implementation of an evidence-based community education campaign for responsible dog ownership.

Public consultation closes Thursday August 24, 2023. You can take the survey or lodge your own submission here:

It's the deed, not the breed

RSPCA Queensland advocates for decision making that is informed by available scientific evidence.

Currently, the evidence does not support the assumption that certain breeds of dog are inherently dangerous or that the act of banning those breeds will decrease the rate of dog bites or attacks.

What the evidence does suggest is:

  • Dog breed is not a good predictor of individual behaviour [1].
  • Temperament tests between restricted breeds and other breeds have found no significant differences between the two [2].
  • Studies from all over the world have shown that breed specific legislation has little to no effect on the total number of dog bites and attacks, and laws to reduce the risk of these incidents should not focus on breed [3-5].

Identification of banned breeds is problematic, particularly when the proposed breeds (pit bull terrier, dogo argentino, japanese tosa, fila brasilerio and the presa canario) are not recognised purebred dogs in Australia. This approach does not consider the complexities of dog behaviour and the role of socialisation, rearing, training, owner behaviour, environment and circumstances. As such, we do not believe that breed specific legislation is effective in preventing or reducing dog attacks or in protecting the public from dangerous dogs.

RSPCA Queensland encourages the Queensland Government to consider alternatives to introducing breed specific legislation. We support the recommendations of the 2012 Australian Veterinary Association report [6] in applying a more sensible solution to the management of dangerous dogs.  These recommendations suggest a legislative framework that includes sound principles for regulating dangerous dogs as well as a complete system of measures to support socially responsible pet ownership such as comprehensive education programs and stronger enforcement of regulations.

State-wide consistent rules around effective control of dogs in public places

RSPCA Qld supports consistent rules across all local government areas in Queensland for dogs to be effectively controlled in public places.This reduces the risk of confusion for dog owners moving across regions and provides clear expectations for dog owners in always ensuring effective control of their pet.

The definition of effective control does need to be clearly defined as this could mean different things to different people. This definition should include the dog being on an appropriate harness and leash which is controlled by a person who is physically able to control the dog. We also suggest consideration be made under the exceptions for dogs who are being trained or are competing in a controlled environment, such as training grounds for dog agility and other dog sports.

Community-based education campaign

There is a strong need for a community-based education program to increase awareness and understanding of responsible ownership, dog behaviour and bite prevention, particularly for children who are susceptible to dog bites as highlighted in the discussion paper Department of Agriculture and Fisheries | Strong dog laws: Safer communities (

We would also encourage this campaign to focus on the following:

  • Any dog, including well behaved dogs, have the potential to bite. Most bites and attacks are avoidable. Increasing awareness for owners and the public on how to recognise and respond to the warning signs is crucial to prevention.
  • Increased understanding of dog behaviour.
  • The promotion of socialisation and positive reinforcement training for dog owners. Training methods that incorporate punishment can create unwanted fear or aggression in dogs.
  • The importance of keeping dogs secure when at home, so they can not stray from your property.
  • Never allowing children to interact with dogs without close supervision and a good understanding of dog behaviour.
  • For those that notice aggressive behaviour in their dog to seek advice from your vet or dog behaviourist to learn how to correct this behaviour immediately.
  • Advice for the public when interacting with dogs in public or when in another person’s home.
  • What to be aware of when coming across community dogs that do not have owners.

[1] Morrill, K., Hekman, J., Li, X., McClure, J., Logan, B., Goodman, L., Gao, M., Dong, Y., Alonso, M., Carmichael, E., Snyder-Mackler, N., Alonso, J., Noh, H. J., Johnson, J., Koltookian, M., Lieu, C., Megquier, K., Swofford, R., Turner-Maier, J., … Karlsson, E. K. (2022). Ancestry-inclusive dog genomics challenges popular breed stereotypes. Science, 376(6592), eabk0639.

[2] Ott, S. A., Schalke, E., von Gaertner, A. M., & Hackbarth, H. (2008). Is there a difference? Comparison of golden retrievers and dogs affected by breed-specific legislation regarding aggressive behavior. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 3(3), 134–140.

[3] Cornelissen, J. M., & Hopster, H. (2010). Dog bites in The Netherlands: A study of victims, injuries, circumstances and aggressors to support evaluation of breed specific legislation. The Veterinary Journal, 186(3), 292–298.

[4] Nilson, F., Damsager, J., Lauritsen, J., & Bonander, C. (2018). The effect of breed-specific dog legislation on hospital treated dog bites in Odense, Denmark—A time series intervention study. PloS One, 13(12), e0208393.

[5] Rosado, B., García-Belenguer, S., León, M., & Palacio, J. (2007). Spanish dangerous animals act: Effect on the epidemiology of dog bites. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 2(5), 166–174.

[6] Kathleen C. Croy, Julie K. Levy, Kim R. Olson, Michael Crandall, Sylvia J. Tucke 2012-Croy-Maddies-Shelter-Medicine-Confernce-Abstract.pdf ( accessed 13/7/23

[6] Australian Veterinary Association (2012), Dangerous Dogs – A Sensible Solution

Emma Lagoon
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