Geelong Advertiser; September 1 2011
GEELONG dog owners have begun to surrender their pit-bull crosses as tough new laws begin to bite.
Legislation on restricted dog breeds has been widened to include cross-breeds, and owners, councils, veterinarians and animal shelters will be responsible for policing it.
Registered pure or cross-breed dogs are now subject to strict controls, while unregistered dogs can be destroyed.
Geelong Animal Welfare Society (GAWS) manager Robyn Stewart said more than four pit bull crosses had been surrendered to the centre to be put down.
“People are terrified of doing the wrong thing and don’t trust them (pit bulls) any more and it’s better to be safe than sorry,” she said.
Before an abandoned dog can be released to its new owners it must be micro-chipped and de-sexed to be registered, but some veterinarians will not micro-chip dogs they believe to be part pit bull or any other restricted breed.
“Puppies didn’t ask to be born pit bull but they’ll be doomed from the minute they’re alive,” Ms Stewart said.
“Crosses are hard to tell, and everyone could look and see something different but it all comes back to responsibility.
“I don’t want to release a dog and have something happen (to someone).”
A spokesman for the Australian Veterinarian Association said the association was seeking legal advice on the new laws.
He said visually identifying elements of a cross-breed was always subjective but vets would have to err on the side of caution.
Leopold’s Moodie family picked out a new pet at GAWS last week and yesterday was heartbroken and angry at not being able to take him home straight away.
Jake, an abandoned chocolate brown staffy-cross, raised concern with vets that he may contain pit bull.
Ian Moodie said his seven-year-old daughter and wife were in tears at the thought they would have to put Jake down.
He said Jake seemed very friendly during a 30-minute meet-and-greet session.
The family’s other dog is a staffy-cross-labrador, which Mr Moodie said was the best dog he’d had and the reason they’d decided to get another staffy.
Mr Moodie said he’d made more than 20 calls between council, the dangerous dog hotline, lawyers and veterinarians before finding a vet who would micro-chip Jake.
The family will be visited by the council in a week to assess Jake’s temperament.
Mr Moodie said the fate of many dogs would hinge on their looks rather than personality.