Animals - control, treatment and ownership

On this page:

(show below)(hide below)

    We don't give advice about this area of law

    The following content is for general purposes only. Legal Aid Queensland does not provide legal advice in this area. For more information, please contact a lawyer.

    Responsibility for damages or injury caused by animals

    If you’re the owner of an animal that has caused an injury to a person or damage to property, the person who has suffered the injury or damage may take action against you in court. If your actions were negligent you’ll be held responsible and you may be asked to pay compensation. If your animal is known to be dangerous then you need to make sure it doesn’t cause any damage or injury to people or property.

    Can I be held responsible if I kill or injure an animal?

    You may be held responsible if you kill or injure an animal.

    The animal’s owner may take you to court, and if they are successful the magistrate or judge may make an order for you to pay compensation. Cruelty to animals is a criminal offence.

    Complaints about mistreating animals

    Complaints about the mistreatment of animals can be made to the local police, your local council or the RSPCA .

    Pet ownership

    For information about pet ownership, visit the Queensland Government website:

    Do I need legal advice?

    You may need legal advice if you:

    • are the owner of an animal that has injured someone or caused damage to someone's property
    • have been injured or suffered property damage because of another person's animal
    • want to dispute a council abatement notice, fine, or breach of council restrictions
    • have been charged with mistreatment or cruelty to an animal.

    How to get legal advice

    We can’t give legal advice on local government matters, including issues about owning, treating and controlling animals.

    If you’ve been charged with a criminal offence relating to the mistreatment of animals, we may be able to give legal advice.

    The following organisations may be able to give legal advice:

    Who else can help?

    These organisations may be able to help. They don’t give legal advice.

    Local councils administer registration, licensing and restrictions about ownership and control of animals. They also investigate complaints about animals including barking dogs and stray cats.

    Department of Environment and Science gives information about the types of native, protected or restricted animals you can and can't own in Queensland, and what sorts of licences and permits you may need.

    The RSPCA handles complaints about the mistreatment of animals.

    Queensland Police can respond to complaints about animal cruelty.

    Department of Agriculture and Fisheries administers Biosecurity Queensland who develops monitors and enforces animal welfare policy, legislation and standards, and provides community education about animal welfare.

    Community Legal Centres Queensland also has useful information about resolving disputes about pets and animals.

    Disclaimer: This content is for general purposes only and not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, please contact us or speak to a lawyer. View our full disclaimer.

    Last updated 18 November 2022