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Laws relating to dogs

Dogs are covered by many offences under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 that also apply to other animals, such as breach of duty of care or abandonment.

However, some offences under the Act apply specifically to dogs.

Exercising dogs

It is an offence for a person in charge of a dog that is closely confined for 24 hours not to ensure that the dog is exercised or allowed to exercise itself for the next 2 hours or the next 1 hour and another hour in the next 24 hours.

What is considered 'closely confined' varies between individual dogs and depends on the dog's size, age and health. A situation that might not be considered 'close confinement' for some dogs (e.g. small, very elderly or recovering from surgery) could be considered close confinement for a young, fit, large dog.

The maximum penalty for an individual convicted of not ensuring a dog is exercised as described above is $2,669.

Cropping a dog's ears

It is an offence for a person other than a veterinary surgeon to crop a dog's ear. A veterinary surgeon can crop a dog's ear only if it's in the interest of the dog's welfare.

Restrictions also apply on supplying a dog that has cropped ears. See section 29 of the Act for more information.

The maximum penalty for a person convicted of cropping a dog's ear is $13,345.

Debarking a dog

It is an offence for a person other than a veterinary surgeon to perform an operation on a dog that will prevent it being able to bark or to reduce the volume of its bark.

See section 25 of the Act to find out when a veterinary surgeon may perform a de-barking operation.

Restrictions also apply on supplying a de-barked dog. See section 28 of the Act for more information.

The maximum penalty for a person convicted of performing a de-barking operation is $40,035 or 1 year's imprisonment.

Docking a dog's tail

It is an offence for a person other than a veterinary surgeon to dock a dog's tail.

A veterinary surgeon must not dock a dog's tail unless it is in the interest of the dog's welfare.

The maximum penalty for a person convicted of docking a dog's tail is $13,345.

Other dog offences

Other offences under the Act involve the actions of dogs that cause another animal to suffer. Here, the person in control of the dog is potentially liable for prosecution. These offences are:

  • knowingly causing an animal in captivity to be injured or killed by a dog
  • releasing an animal to allow it to be, or in circumstances in which it is likely to be, injured or killed by a dog
  • keeping or using an animal as a kill or lure to blood a dog, or to race or train a coursing dog.

See sections 30–32 of the Act for more information. The maximum penalty for a person convicted of any of these 3 dog-related offences is $40,035 or 1 year's imprisonment.

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