Animal cruelty laws could catch out anyone

 

OWNERS who leave their dog in a hot car even for a few minutes will face whopping fines of $40,000 and a year's jail under beefed-up laws targeting stupidity as well as animal cruelty.

The Queensland Government will amend laws to make it crystal clear that it is illegal to leave an animal in a car in temperatures that could cause it harm.

It will mean a person can be prosecuted with a breach of duty of care even if the animal does not suffer heat stress but the possibility was there, exposing even people running into the shops for milk to serious charges.

Tougher laws will target people who leave dogs in hot cars.
Tougher laws will target people who leave dogs in hot cars.

Cases in which an animal is harmed will attract an animal cruelty charge, with its maximum penalty of a $266,900 fine or three years imprisonment.

RSPCA prosecutions officer Tracey Jackson said people often thought only "evil" people were charged with animal cruelty, but the vast majority were people who'd made "silly choices".

It follows a horror year in which the RSPCA were called to 1321 cases of dogs locked in hot cars - worse than the 1270 cases the year before.

Despite that, there has been just two recent prosecutions due to deficiencies with current laws and the way they are interpreted by the courts.

Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Minister Mark Furner
Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Minister Mark Furner

Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said the amendments make it clearer that it is an offence to put a dog in a car that could get too hot.

RSPCA prosecutor Tracey Jackson
RSPCA prosecutor Tracey Jackson

"This will make it easier to prosecute those who continue to ignore warnings about how quickly animals can start to suffer when left in cars, even if the window is left down," he said.

"The amended duty of care will explicitly mention handling an animal includes confining or transporting it in a vehicle.

"The amended animal cruelty offence will clarify that a person is guilty of animal cruelty if they confine an animal in a vehicle and the animal is caused heat stress or other pain."

Ms Jackson said owners should be warned they had a duty of care and people who ignored that should expect to be prosecuted, with ignorance no defence.

"It's no different to the provisions that are in place for children," she said.

"It's pretty simple.

"If you wouldn't leave your kid in the car, don't leave your dog."

Brisbane dog owner Andrew Lange agrees with the penalties.

"I don't think that's harsh at all," Mr Lange said.

"If I have to leave Ella in the car, I'll leave the keys in the car with the airconditioning on and with the car always in sight.

"People don't realise how hot it can get. They think it'll be okay for five minutes but that may not be the case."

 

Andrew Lange and Rosana Vadal of Alderley with Mr Lange’s dog, four-year-old Ella at New Farm Park yesterday. Picture: Richard Walker/AAP
Andrew Lange and Rosana Vadal of Alderley with Mr Lange’s dog, four-year-old Ella at New Farm Park yesterday. Picture: Richard Walker/AAP


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