Online Pet Accessories Calls for End to Breed-Specific Legislation in Australia

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Major Australian online pet store cites Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) study, says, “enough is enough” to breed-specific legislation, and explains why it doesn’t work as intended.

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While breed-specific legislation had a noble purpose on the surface, it involves stereotypes that are no more intelligent or valid than those involving humans.

In Western Australia, breed-specific legislation was enacted in March 2006. The law states that Mastiffs, American Pit Bulls, Japanese Tosas, and other breeds seen as “dangerous” not only must be muzzled and kept on collars outside of the house, but that they must be sterilised. Supporters and critics alike point out that if all dogs of a breed are sterilised, the breed will die out within one generation.

There are other provisions and breeds in the act, but the main points above give an accurate picture of the law and its intent. If the law fulfilled its original intent, it would produce a reduction in both the population of dangerous breeds, and in bites and attacks, but a recent AVA study indicates that the law hasn’t worked out as planned.

According to Hugh Wirth, president of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) Victoria, “The truth about breed-specific legislation is that it doesn’t work; you don’t decrease the numbers. In fact you send the breeding of that particular breed of dog underground.”

Dr Kersti Seksel, veterinary behaviourist and AVA spokeswoman, was quite succinct in her assessment: “(Breed-specific legislation) hasn’t decreased the number of dog bites.” She continued, “Regardless of breed, dogs are capable of biting, just like people are capable of fighting regardless of our origin either.” According to Seksel, the numbers indicate that most dog bites are sustained from family pets within the households of the victims, and the victim is usually less than ten years old.

The AVA favours an approach that includes education, registration, and temperament testing. The education would be for pet owners, while dogs would be tested for temperament whenever they are sold. The AVA is also in favour of making it mandatory to report any dog bite.

According to Jason Balchand, who operates Online Pet Accessories, “While breed-specific legislation had a noble purpose on the surface, it involves stereotypes that are no more intelligent or valid than those involving humans.”

Balchand continued, “If the legislation worked and was expanded to a worldwide level, it would turn many breeds into endangered species. If the stereotypes were correct, and the legislation actually decreased dog bites or attacks, it could possibly be a painful but necessary sacrifice. However, the numbers don’t lie: breed-specific legislation simply doesn’t do what it was intended to do. Breed-specific legislation provides absolutely no benefit to the public.”

Balchand summed up, “If there is one thing we can take from the AVA’s stance, it’s that banning specific breeds isn’t the answer. In the end, it’s usually the owner and not the dog who determines how aggressive a dog will be. Breeds seen as aggressive can make wonderful pets, while breeds seen as docile can be turned into killers by the wrong owner. Education is the answer: not legislation.”

Online Pet Accessories is an online pet store with a physical location in the Perth suburb of Ellenbrook. They feature a wide selection of pet supplies, and a plethora of dog supplies, including dog food, dog treats, dog toys, dog collars, and more. You can reach Online Pet Accessories by phone at (08) 9296 7544, or you can visit their website: http://www.petshop-online.com.au/

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Jason Balchand
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