Michael Beatty at the RSPCA in Wacol with Zeus the Staffy. (AAP image, John Gass)
Michael Beatty at the RSPCA in Wacol with Zeus the Staffy. (AAP image, John Gass)

RSPCA: Animal cruelty law review ‘long overdue’

A review of nearly two-decade-old legislation could help hundreds of animals escape unsafe situations without the long and costly court process.

The Queensland Government announced it would conduct a full review of the state’s animal welfare legislation to ensure it met changing community expectations.

RSPCA Queensland Wacol Animal Care Centre spokesman Michael Beatty said the review was overdue.

“It’s been nearly 20 years since the Act first came in and things change,” he said.

“People’s attitudes change and we’re a lot more aware of animal cruelty and neglect than perhaps we were 20 years ago.”

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Mr Beatty said the RSPCA was eager to see several changes made, including restricting the supply of tail-docked or ear-cropped dogs; the inclusion of a bond to cover the cost of ongoing care; the ability to enforce a prohibition order made in another state; the ability to obtain a prohibition order without a conviction; and the ability to verbally transfer ownership with the appropriate safeguards.

He said it was vital to change how a prohibition order could be obtained.

“If there were some way under the Act we could get a prohibition order without having to go the lengthy and expensive route of trying to get somebody to court, that would be great,” he said.

“(It could be) the same way a warrant is obtained – you go to a magistrate and lay out the case.”

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At the moment, removing animals from an unsafe environment and rehoming them involves a lengthy and expensive court process.

“We seize the animals and have to look after them until after the court date and can’t rehome them (until then),” he said.

“In a lot of those cases, the animals have to stay with us for well over a year, which is the time it takes to get to court.”

He said, in many cases, it wasn’t the RSPCA’s goal for someone to be actively punished.

“It’s totally different to deliberate, premeditated cruelty. Some cases might involve a person suffering from mental issues and won’t surrender the animals to us,” he said.

“Some have taken on more animals than they can actually look after so there needs to be an easier way to prevent them from getting more animals and those animals suffering.”

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Mr Beatty said prohibition orders made under another state’s jurisdiction did not apply in Queensland.

“We would have to start from scratch if the person started to do the same thing (they were convicted for in a different state),” he said.

The RSPCA Qld and other independent experts will work alongside the state government to review the Animal Care and Protection Act.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the community would also be able to have their voices heard on any proposed changes to the Act.

“We have some of the toughest animal welfare laws in the nation, but community expectations evolve and this issue is way too important to just sit back and think that the job is done,” Mr Furner said.

Mr Beatty said the RSPCA had contacted politicians in the lead up to the state election.

“We sent a letter to both parties before the election, pointing out a couple of key areas we felt needed to be re-looked at,” Mr Beatty said.

Read more news by Ebony Graveur.