An irate single mom has warned fellow dog owners about a surprise rule that threatened her with losing her driver’s license if she failed to pay a $348.80 fine.
Jo Marshall was smitten with the daunting choice for not canceling the registration of her Rhodesian Ridgeback, Rose, when she moved from Queensland to New South Wales in 2020.
Ms Marshall ignored digital reminders from the Sunshine Coast Council about renewing her dog registration since then – because she no longer lived there.
In 2020, she moved 1,282 km from her home in Noosa to regional NSW for work, taking her daughter and her dog with her.
But because Mrs. Marshall did not cancel the registration, her former council continued to accrue a debt in her name for Rose’s registration, even though the family lived elsewhere.
Jo Marshall was hit with the daunting choice of a $350 fine or loss of license for not canceling her dog Rose’s registration – even though she had moved across the country. In the photo, Rose with Mrs. Marshall
Ms Marshall expressed frustration at the size of the fine given that a year of dog registration with Sunshine Coast Council costs just $24
Ultimately, the blame was transferred to the State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER), administered by the Queensland Revenue Office, who issued her the Notice of Intent to suspend her license.
But the message warned her of an alternative punishment, with in red letters: “Pay your arrears or we’ll suspend your driver’s license.”
Mrs. Marshall cannot afford to lose her driver’s license as she drives about 1,000 km a week and visits her daughter who is in boarding school.
A frustrated Ms Marshall told Daily Mail Australia she could not get out of the fine, even though she did not use the service she was charged for.
“There is no escaping the fine. It’s in the terms and conditions and I can’t afford to fight it and lose,” she said.
“I just want others to know about this appalling money making scheme by the Sunshine Coast Council.
“Councils should not have the power to revoke driver’s licenses, something so crucial to everyday life, especially in the country, or to impose such a ridiculous fine for not canceling a dog registration.”
Ms. Marshall felt like she was being hit in the hip pocket, even though she was trying to be a responsible dog owner.
“It seems they are punishing the people who are trying to do the right thing by registering their dog in the first place, rather than going out and fining people who don’t,” Ms Marshall told Daily Mail Australia.
“I can’t believe they have the power to suspend your license in anything related to pet ownership.
“I just want to bring out the whole hidden thing.”
She also expressed her frustration at the size of the fine, as annual registration for a dog with the Sunshine Coast Council costs just $24.
Even three years of missed dog registration payments would only equal $72, but her fine was $348.80.
In February, ABC reported that more than 2,800 Queenslanders had been fined by the SPER in the previous year for failing to pay their dog registration fees. Of these, more than 500 have lost their driver’s licenses.
Ms Marshall also posted a warning to other dog owners on a Noosa social media community page.
“Warning to anyone leaving the area, physically cancel your dog’s registration or you will be fined $350 2.5 years later, or have your driver’s license revoked, no way out!” she wrote.
“In the fine print I didn’t have any other notices, just to say you need to renew your dog registration, but I didn’t live there so I deleted it.
“Don’t assume it will just expire like I did.
“They should be more transparent about such an outrageous fine.”
Local residents on the page were baffled by the Queensland ruling.
“What’s your driver’s license got to do with your dog?” a man asked.
“Why would they revoke a driver’s license? Does not make any sense.’
“Are you sure it’s not a scam?” a woman wrote.
“I would absolutely dispute it,” said another. “How can they charge you for no service?”
Ms. Marshall felt like she was being hit in the hip pocket even though she was trying to be a responsible dog owner
Ms Marshall ignored digital reminders from the Sunshine Coast Council about renewing her dog registration since then – because she no longer lived there
Ms. Marshall contested the fine and was told that the fine print in her original registration for Rose related to the council’s actions.
Another man posted that he got the same fine for the same reason.
“Exactly the same thing happened to me and I spent hours on the phone and two visits to Noosa council from Brisbane,” he wrote.
“It was all a waste of time, because the fine could not be reversed because it was now in the hands of SPER and I was threatened again that my driving license would be revoked.”
As usual, faced with what appears to be administrative dishonesty, commentators resorted to humour.
“Let’s all learn from this,” one man wrote. “This wouldn’t happen if you didn’t register your dog in the first place.”
“They have to pay for the Olympics somehow,” was someone else’s cheeky response.
Daily Mail Australia approached the Queensland Revenue Office and the Sunshine Coast Council for comment.