The following commentary was given to the Local Government Association of Queensland by its legal advisers in a circular titled Pet Owners, Pet Licences and Obligations dated 15/6/2007.

Some relevant comments in the circular are as follows (italics, capitals, bold, underlines are in original article). There may be an extra page but the Local Government Association of Queensland refuses to answer my emails requesting a copy of the original. I transcribed this from a copy sent to me by members of the old Redcliffe Shire ratepayers group.

Pet Owners, Pet Licences and Obligations 15/6/2007

In recent times local councils are subjecting pet owners, who had the uncontested right to keep their pets for years, to inspection programmes.

Pet owners, and I include the thousands of Hobby Breeders registered with Kennel Association, are being required to pay substantial charges not only to register the pets but worse still, the number of animals is being arbitrarily limited.

This raises the question of whether such limitations are lawful and whether ANY cost should be payable by dog owners who have a lawful use right.

Being familiar with the situation only in my own region in Queensland I will address my arguments and comments to that situation, but there is no reason why the same principles should not apply elsewhere.

From the number of complaints brought to my attention the issue and my comments have widespread implications.

I am obliged to point out that this commentary is not legal advice but I think most readers will agree that the logic and argument is inescapable. Here there are one persons views.

For the majority of people who are being told to register their dogs the land they occupy is categorised by their local council as Residential. This is achieved under S.17 of the Valuation of Land Act and the Code issued by the Department of Natural Resources.

This Code is for rating purposes only. It is not a Zoning under the Planning Scheme and it is important to understand the difference. Zoning under a Planning Scheme defines how the land may be used, what may be put on it and what consents are required.

So what is the significance for pet owners??

The Land Court has consistently upheld the opinion of His Honour Mr Justice Darling in Marshall v Graham (1907), a Kings Bench decision that the meaning of S.17 (land used exclusively for a dwelling house) refers to the setting apart of the land for the purpose of a single dwelling house, including any other use that may be associated with the enjoyment of the land for that purpose.

A Planning and Environment Court decision in Brisbane July 2001 reaffirmed this precedent but like the rest of the Planning Court decisions, it is not on the internet. The ruling is significant. It clearly provides that domestic activities, including the keeping or breeding of domestic pets or companion animals, conducted by residents of a dwelling house for their enjoyment or interest, are included in any use for which a dwelling house may (be) lawfully be used: unless such use is specifically excluded by the local authority at the time consent is given for the erection of a dwelling.