Law ‘needs to target dog owner’

Portrait of bride and groom by church
Portrait of bride and groom by church

WA Against Breed Specific Legislation say they want dangerous dog laws, affecting breeds such as the American pit bull and Japanese Tosa, abolished and more responsibility placed on owners to raise their dogs correctly.

‘Dangerous or restricted dog laws give the community a false sense of security as the laws have flaws in regards to breed identification, as DNA testing is not counted,’ chairwoman Jen Adams, said.

‘The dog is assessed by how it looks.

‘It sends messages to the community that only certain dogs will attack and will bite, when in fact all dogs bite.’

Ms Adams said the maincontributor to a dog’s personality was whether the dog had been socialised or not.

‘The laws target the wrong end of the leash,’ she said.

‘Every dog is different, not due to the breed of the dog, but rather the individual dog’s breeding and environment in which it was raised.’

Paul Davey, the Australian Veterinary Association’s WA president, agreed the legislation did not work.

‘Banning or restricting particular breeds doesn’t work, and dog bites continue to happen,’ he said.

‘BSL has never been shown to reduce dog bites and make the community safer.’

Dr Harvey said a dog’s tendency to bite was based on numerous interacting factors, including hereditary characteristics, early experiences, socialisation and training, and the dog’s health.

‘Only hereditary (factors) are addressed when breed alone is considered,’ he said.

‘There are no reliable DNA markers for pit bulls and it is not possible to reliably identify a breed from a dog’s appearance.’

Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett reiterated prior sentiments, saying responsibility for dogs lies with the owner.

‘Breed-specific legislation is no guarantee that people or other animals will be protected from dangerous dogs,’ he said.

‘It is the owner or person in control of the dog that needs to be aware of their obligations under the legislation.’

He said a widespread community education program funded by the State Government would be useful in informing the community about responsible dog ownership.

‘Local governments could assist by providing fenced-off dog exercise areas in the community as well as continuing to support dog exercise areas in parks and along our coastal areas,’ he said.