Media release, Friday, 15 June 2012
Australia’s peak veterinary body, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) continues to be concerned about Victorian laws that have seen two dogs destroyed based solely on their appearance.
“‘Bear’ and ‘Kooda’ were impounded because they look like pit bull crosses as prescribed by the government guidelines,” said Dr Susan Maastricht, President of the Victorian Division of the AVA.
The dogs were then found to meet the Standard For Restricted Breed Dogs, which was introduced as a way of identifying pit bulls and pit bull crosses in Victoria in September 2011.
“Unfortunately their owners recently lost their appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and the dogs have been put down. This is exactly why we were opposed to the legislation from the outset. Not only will it fail to prevent dog bites, innocent dogs can clearly end up being scapegoats because of the way they look,” Dr Maastricht said.
“While the AVA believes that dogs that have shown aggressive behaviour should be regulated strongly, you can’t tell whether a dog is dangerous just by looking at it, or even by its breed.
“We know that all dogs have the potential to react aggressively if scared or threatened but most dogs don’t bite people, so the banning of some breeds over others doesn’t make sense.
“The legislation in Victoria is not a solution. Experience in other parts of the world has shown that banning breeds doesn’t reduce dog bites. The AVA stands ready and willing to work with governments to find a more reasonable and realistic solution to what is obviously a complex issue.
“Keeping the public safe from dog bites is paramount and requires a coordinated approach involving management of the dogs and education of humans. The AVA recommends that a combination of comprehensive registration of all dogs, early socialisation and training of pups, owner education, public awareness campaigns, adult supervision of children around all dogs and enforcement of leash laws is a much more effective option,” Dr Maastricht said.
The AVA is currently preparing a national model for dangerous dog regulations based on effective policy options from around the world. The AVA will be advocating for all states to adopt this model.
The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is the national professional association of veterinary surgeons in Australia. Founded in 1921, the AVA today represents 5000 members working in all areas of animal science, health and welfare.