Scenic Rim animal cruelty complaints drop as the government plans law review

LAW: RSPCA Queensland says penalties for cruelty and neglect to animals should be much harsher. Photo: RSPCA
LAW: RSPCA Queensland says penalties for cruelty and neglect to animals should be much harsher. Photo: RSPCA

THE Agriculture and Fisheries department is undertaking a review of current animal care and protection laws, 20 years after they were enacted in Queensland.

RSPCA Queensland chief inspector Daniel Young said there was room for improvement.

"It's been twenty years since the (Animal Care and Protection) Act was introduced and we believe there are a number of areas where it could be improved, leading to better animal welfare outcomes all round," he said.

'RSPCA Queensland receives thousands of complaints from members of the public who believe that the sentences for animal cruelty and neglect are too lenient or inconsistent."

Across the Scenic Rim, animal cruelty complaints made to the RSPCA in 2020 were considerably lower than they were in 2019.

Beaudesert recorded 45 complaints compared to 70 in 2019, Tamborine Mountain had 11 complaints in 2020 and 20 in 2019 and Kooralbyn had half the number of complaints lodged last year, dropping to 13 complaints from 26 in 2019.

RSPCA also received complaints from Canungra (4) Aratula (6), Boonah (7), Kalbar (5), Rathdowney (5), Tamrookum (5), Kerry (3), Mount Barney (2), Boyland (2) and Bromelton (2).

Mr Young said penalties for animal cruelty or neglect needed beefing up.

He put forward the example of the maximum penalty for organised dog fighting offences, currently one year's imprisonment.

"We believe it should be three years which is in line with the current penalty for animal cruelty," Mr Young said.

"There are also inconsistencies in relation to the penalties imposed for neglect.

"We see many serious or large scale neglect cases that result in significant harm to large numbers of animals or to one animal over a long period of time, and in these cases we believe the current maximum penalty of 1 year's imprisonment is inadequate."

"Legislative changes around sentencing and penalties may result in court outcomes that are more in line with community expectations.

"We'd also like to be able to enforce a prohibition order made in another state. Most other states and territories can enforce Queensland prohibition orders, but when animal welfare offenders move to Queensland with a prohibition order, they are free to own animals, despite any prohibition order in existence elsewhere in the country."

Mr Young said another issue that needed to be addressed by legislation was the care and rehoming of seized animals.

"Animals are often having to wait years in RSPCA care before we can legally rehome them, and given that they are the focus of our legislation, this is one area that we believe requires urgent attention," he said.

"Whether we seize one or a hundred animals, our most important outcome is to ensure that animal is protected from further harm and is able to live their lives in a home where they are safe, loved and well cared for.

"But as I'm sure everyone realises there are a number of aspects of the Act that need to be reviewed. RSPCA Queensland is highly motivated and encouraged to have been invited to be a key stakeholder included in the review process.

"We ask the community to join us in making submissions and being the voice of the animals."

Community members can contribute to the review process here by midnight on May 21.

Agriculture and Fisheries said the Rodeo Code of Practice would not be part of the review and the implementation of the recommendations from the independent inquiry into the management of retired racehorses was progressing separately to the ACPA review.