A Woodstock dog lover would like all owners regulated more to train their animals, and “only own them if they are prepared to look after them and supervise them properly”.
Rosie Milton said there was no simple answer to managing aggressive dogs, or to what made them so, and agreed aggression was not attributable to breeds alone.
However, she is worried that future softening of restricted-breed legislation could “lead to some irresponsible owners becoming more so”.
“Many breeds seen as aggressive are encouraged to be that way, by the way they are treated and have to live their lives.”- Rosie Milton
Ms Milton was reacting to the Victorian Government’s recent decision to allow registration of restricted dog breeds, such as pit bulls, in Victoria after Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) lobbying since 2011.
NSW President of the AVA Geoff Scarlett said there was no current move to replicate the decision in NSW.
However, he also pointed out that national AVA policy disagrees with restricted breeds legislation.
Ms Milton, who owns six dogs she enters in ability trials and flyball competitions, said “many breeds seen as aggressive are encouraged to be that way, by the way they are treated and have to live their lives”.
“Some owners have a lot to answer for.”
Dr Scarlett said “I totally agree, it’s not the breed, it’s the circumstance”.
“Any dog in the wrong circumstances can be dangerous.”
“Breed-specific legislation for dog bite prevention has failed to reduce the frequency of dog bites both in Australia and overseas."- Australian Veterinary Association
An AVA web page on restricted breeds says “legislation to prevent dog bites and to manage aggressive dogs should focus on the individual dog and the owner not the breed”.
“Breed-specific legislation for dog bite prevention has failed to reduce the frequency of dog bites both in Australia and overseas,” the website says.
Under NSW law, restricted breeds cannot be sold or given away in NSW.
It is illegal to accept ownership of such a dog and if you already own one, you must desex and register it with council.
“The AVA supports people owning these dogs, provided they conform to the current restrictions,” Dr Scarlett said.
“But breed restrictions don’t address the real problem.”
“Any dog should be in a confined area so the public don’t have access to it and so it can’t get out and certain dogs should be muzzled in public.”
The AVA website says policy is firmly opposed to breed-specific legislation, so the association has invested in preparing a comprehensive report detailing its faults while also setting out an evidence-based alternative approach.
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