As man’s best friend, dogs provide unconditional company for many of us. But what if it all goes wrong?
You don’t have to look far to find reports of fatal dog attacks, with the same few breeds often cited as the cause of these tragic deaths.
So what breeds of dogs are banned in Australia and what breed bans actually prevent dog attacks?
Which dogs are banned in Australia?
Commonwealth customs laws prohibit the importation of certain breeds into Australia, including pure or crossbred Japanese Tosa, Fila Brasileiro (Brazilian Mastiff), Dogo Argentino, Perro de Presa Canario, and American Pit Bull Terriers.
Though legislation doesn’t prohibit possession, many states and territories have their own ownership rules for these breeds, including the muzzle in public areas, intercourse, and specific requirements for fences and enclosures.
The rules vary across Australia and the local councils can set their own rules.
Other restricted breeds include wolves, which are banned in Australia, and dingoes.
Permit is required in Victoria, Northern Territory, Western Australia, and the ACT, and dingo possession is illegal in Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania.
Dog breeds that are considered aggressive
Historically, dog breeds that have been labeled aggressive have one thing in common – they were originally bred for combat.
The thought was that these breeds were genetically predisposed to aggression and therefore presented a higher risk to the community.
The dangerous dog ban can also be applied to any dog, regardless of breed, if it comes to aggressive behavior.
And interestingly, most of the top 10 “aggressive dog breeds” lists have many well-known names, including the Chihuahua, German Shepherd, and American Staffy.
So where do the rules come from?
Breed specific laws and rules for dangerous dogs have evolved in response to public and media pressure for dog attacks.
They aim to identify and track potentially dangerous dogs to protect public safety.
Resistance to dog bans
Despite persistent dog bans, there are repeated attacks. In fact, more than 100,000 Australians experience dog attacks every year and the number of dog attacks continues to rise in the UK despite the ongoing ban on four high-risk breeds.
According to RSPCA, breed-specific bans have done little to prevent further attacks because they fail to address the underlying issues that lead to these attacks.
Breed bans apply to all dogs of a given breed, regardless of their behavior, and do not address other factors such as human care, handling, and training of a dog.
Like humans, dogs are sensitive to their surroundings and will fight, flee, or freeze in unsafe situations.
The Australian Vet Association explains this further outlines that genetics is only part of canine behavior, with early socialization, “the dog’s health, the manager’s management strategies (on and off his property), the dog’s level of training, and the owner’s ability to predict his dog’s behavior.” and to control it effectively … ”is equally important in reducing the likelihood of aggressive behavior.
Earlier this year, Brisbane-based dog trainer Dee Scott told ABC News, “If my dog were to get bitten tomorrow, the first thing I would say would be, ‘Why? What happened, what did I do wrong? ‘”.
“It’s not the dog’s fault,” she said, suggesting training owners to watch out for signs of anxiety or stress in their dogs and to minimize the chances of them being flogged.
Calls for further dog bans
Despite evidence against the effectiveness of dog breed bans, those who have been attacked continue to call for bans to prevent future injury or death.
In an interview with Sky News, Australian veterinarian Dr. Sam Kovac that some dog breeds pose “an unacceptable risk to our society” and called for a ban on the possession of The American Staffy.
This followed the abusive death of a five-year-old child by the Staffy family.
While the debate continues, experts agree that all dogs, regardless of breed, require access to proper training and appropriate care and attention from the owner in order to develop healthy behavior and reduce the risk of attack.
Ms. Scott told ABC News, “It might well be that we can change this by raising the human, by raising the dog [behaviour]. “
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