SMH; Nino Bucci; August 18, 2011
A dog behaviour specialist has called for harsher penalties for rogue owners in the wake of a fatal attack in Melbourne’s west.
Brad Griggs says dog behaviour training should be mandatory and governments should abolish breed-specific regulations after a pit bull cross mauled four-year-old Ayen Chol to death in St Albans last night.
Mr Griggs, who has worked for almost 10 years training dogs, said pit bulls were not more dangerous than other breeds.
He said problem dogs were often poorly trained during the first 16 weeks of their life.
“A large reason we see the problems we do with pit bulls is because of a lack of training and a lack of nurturing, not the breed itself,” he said.
“When that goes wrong, there’s a lot more problems with a dog that’s 30 kilograms than with a dog that’s 4 kilograms.
“Dogs that attack have not been correctly socialised and habitualised and once the damage is done we can’t always fix it.”
Mr Griggs said demonising pit bulls was not the answer and there needed to be more onus placed on the owners of dogs.
He said simple behaviour training should be mandatory for all dog owners to ensure the dog came when called, dropped when asked and could walk on a loose lead.
He said regulations restricting the ownership of pitbulls had not worked.
“If pure pit bulls were to be bred out of existence within 40 or 50 years, we would just have a new sensationalist breed that comes along,” Mr Griggs said.
“The reality is if we give any dog training there should be no problems.”
Brimbank City Council CEO Nick Foa said councils had long battled inadequate dog legislation and he welcomed the state government’s announcement of a review.
He said the government would have to answer if speeding up the process of changing legislation could have saved the girl.
Police have been collecting evidence from the dog which will be euthanased when it is returned to council as early as this evening.
The dog was not registered and its owners had not previously come to council’s attention.
Mr Foa said council picked up six to 10 dogs each day that were unregistered.
“What this is is a tragic and graphic reminder of the importance of responsible pet ownership.
“This community has lost a little girl and a family has lost a little girl in circumstances that can only be described as tragic and it’s a parents’ worst nightmare.”