Here is the conclusion of my Course Assessment for the ISCP Diploma in Canine Psychology/Behaviour. This and my previous 2 posts, deal with Breed Specific Legislation in Australia:
The law as it stands makes it illegal in Australia to keep an unregistered pit bull terrier, or any of the other breeds on the list of restricted breeds. However, since 2012, it has not been possible for any owners of such dogs to actively register their dogs with their local Councils. The only way to register a restricted dog is through the Courts, and that only because there’s been an incident involving the dog already and the Court has ordered that the dog be registered. Not being able to register your dogs means the Rangers can come and confiscate them as they like, simply by “identifying” them by sight alone. And without proper guidelines specifying exactly what a pit bull terrier looks like, ANY dog is potentially in great danger of being removed and euthanised, simply because it LOOKS like a pit bull.
I personally don’t agree with breed specific legislation. ALL dogs have sharp teeth and the potential to bite anyone. For me, the solution lies in educating the public about how to read a dog’s body language, learning to respect a strange dog and keep your distance, teaching your children the correct way to interact with dogs, and punishing the deed not the breed. People should be encouraged to bring their puppies to socialisation and training classes, so their dogs grow up to be well-adjusted and familiar with humans. Dog-fighting should be the thing that’s banned, not certain breeds of dogs. Impose custodial sentences on persons found to be involved in dog-fighting rings, or of breeding dogs for such purposes; put them away so they can’t contribute further to the problem.
I find it ironic that most reports of dog attacks involve large, powerful dogs. It’s as if when a little Chihuahua bites you, it’s okay, but not if a Rottweiler bites you. The extent of your injury may be vastly different in size and severity between the two, but all dogs share the same body language of fight, flight or freeze. Most reported dog bites are about dogs at large; many dog owners don’t feel a need to report that their family pet has bitten them. A dog on the loose could be scared out of its wits and simply looking for its way home, and along come total strangers who want to corner it and put a noose around its neck – can you really blame that dog for displaying fear aggression?
We can blame Social Media and the newspapers and TV for scare-mongering, and proliferating misleading information to the public, for the sake of gaining more viewers and readers. Even politicians have been known to jump on the bandwagon. http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/thousands-unhappy-with-dangerous-dog-warnings-in-meath-1.2640777
The problem is, most people who have never owned a dog or experienced the joys of living with one, simply believe what they see or read these days. Beware though, a little knowledge can be very dangerous. In November 2015 in Perth, Western Australia there was a loose Pit Bulll-Staffy type dog on the streets, and panicked residents rang the Rangers and Police. Video footage showed a Policeman aiming his gun at the dog. The dog was giving signals of appeasement – looking away, looking submissive, wagging its tail and sitting down. The policeman shot the dog dead.
One of my own dogs, Shelagh, is a Staffy-Mastiff who, at first glance, looks like a Pit Bull. She’s the biggest softy I’ve ever known, very affectionate, very intelligent and very loving. I’ve come across people, total strangers, who have told me with the utmost confidence that my dog will “turn vicious without warning”, that “Pit Bulls are very aggressive and dangerous dogs”, that I should only bring Shelagh out “always with a muzzle on and where there’s no one else around, so she doesn’t go around biting people”. I guess you could say I have a vested interest in making sure my own dog remains safe from such ignorant people in this country.
Useful web links relating to Breed Specific Legislation in Australia:
(Image source: Google Images)