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The argument against breed specific legislation.

As we advance as a society, embracing compassion along the way must be part of the path forward. This of course includes the way in which we treat and respect the animal kingdom, value of live, living conditions, general treatment, future legislation and educational advancements.

Australians in general have come to value the positive role that companion animals play in our lives. However there is a persistent gap between the community’s desire to live alongside animals and its understanding of how to properly interact with them.

Education is an important step in ensuring safety for people and animals, rather than a strict legislative agenda that is ignorant of professional advice, and that includes breed specific legislation.

The Australian veterinary association and indeed the same groups in England, Canada and the US, have all recognised that BS legislative approaches have been a failure.

Dog attacks on humans, other companion animals, livestock and wildlife in Australia are

comparable to other developed countries, in terms of available data, so the very fact most of the experts in animal welfare in all these countries are against BSL, must be heard by our political representatives.

Some breeds of dogs receive more media attention when attacks take place, even though the frequency of attacks by these breeds may be small in numbers, this fact alone has manipulated public concerns.

For many years countries including Australia have attempted to regulate certain breeds in an attempt to reduce the frequency of dog bites, rather than invest in education or act in a more equitable manner by basing their approach on the identification of individual potentially dangerous animals.

Test cases from all over the world have also been very clear, that when tested for natural aggression, breed alone has had no influence, this point alone should deter such an uneducated approach to the reduction of dog bites in Australia.

If our legislative agenda took a similar approach to bad human behaviour, there would be uproar, because we have come far enough as a society to judge people on their actions, the same equity must apply to all legislative advancements in animal welfare reforms.

In Australia between 70 and 80% of dog bites occur in the domestic environment, yet media reporting tends to lean towards animals at large, so when considering the best way forward education and training will have a greater effect than BS bans.

In most domestic situations it is less likely that reports will be made, where as in the public domain most indeed will be, so the reported facts and figures are not a true indicator of incidents let alone supportive of BSL.

When one studies the causes of dog bites, most of the victims are children and young adults, and in the most it is the behaviour of the human not the animal that cause the incidence to occur, so education is not just about how to handle and train a companion animal, but teaching our children how to interact with them.

“A child’s natural behaviour, including running, yelling, grabbing, hitting, quick and

spontaneous movements, and maintaining eye contact, put them at risk for dog bite injuries. Children also have a habit of having their face too close to the dog, which also increases the risk of facial injuries and more severe trauma.

There are many reasons to stand against BS legislation;

* Firstly, breed on its own is not an effective indicator or predictor of aggression in Dog’s.

* It is not possible to precisely determine the breed of the types of dogs

targeted by breed-specific legislation by appearance or by DNA analysis.

* The number of animals that would need to be removed from a community to have a

meaningful impact on hospital admissions is so high that the removal of any one breed would

have negligible impact.

* Breed-specific legislation ignores the human element whereby dog owners who desire that kind of dog will simply substitute another breed of dog of similar size, strength and perception of aggressive tendencies.

* The size or build of a dog has no correlation to aggressive behaviour.

* Most dog bites are the result of the actions of the human component.

* And finally it is not a compassionate nor equitable approach.

Jack Russell terriers and German Sheppard’s head the list of reported dog bites, yet they have yet to make the list, while breed specific legislation takes the approach of what damage a dog may do if indeed it does bite, a very uneducated one at that.

So it is a well known fact that the kind of people that prefer larger breeds of dogs that they perceive to be aggressive in nature, will still find a way to achieve their goals, regardless of any proposed breed specific legislation.

Animal bites are more so based on the animals training, social surroundings and indeed the behaviour of the human involved, so education is the key, not ill thought legislative agenda.

So the saying “Judge the deed not the breed” is definitely well said, but just maybe it is the lack of education and short falls in regards to the responsibility of parents and animal owners that should be put under the microscope.

Mark Aldridge

Independent candidate

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