City of Wanneroo to reconsider design of dog guide brochure after backlash from Rottweiler owners

Paul and Terese Dunn with Keisha and Fonzie. Picture: Martin Kennealey d479744
Paul and Terese Dunn with Keisha and Fonzie. Picture: Martin Kennealey d479744

CITY of Wanneroo will reconsider the design of a brochure after receiving backlash for the use of an image of a Rottweiler next to dog attack information.

A 13-page community safety guide, last printed three years ago, includes several safety messages and is part of a welcome pack for new residents to the area.

The image of the Rottweiler bounding towards something with its mouth open sparked anger among dog owners and breeders when a new Wanneroo resident posted the image to the Rottweilers of Perth Facebook page.

The image that upset owners and breeders.

The post fuelled disappointment in the representation of the breed, with the administration of the Facebook page encouraging members to complain to the City, with the image now removed from the online version.

In the same brochure there’s images of other dog breeds on pages with messages about barking/nuisance dogs, the animal care centre and dog exercise.

A statement released by the City of Wanneroo read that the community safety guide had been available publicly for several years, with the last print run in 2015.

“The brochure is wide-ranging and not solely focussed on dogs – it encompasses information relating to firebreaks and prohibited burning; litter; graffiti; parking; home safety and pet ownership, including registration, barking dogs, dog exercise areas and dog attacks,” it read.

“The information is intended to inform residents about dog attacks – the image used is not to discriminate against any particular breed but to demonstrate and educate readers that a dog running towards a person baring teeth could potentially mean an attacking dog.”

Officers from the City responded to all individual queries about the image, informing them their comments had been taken on board and would be considered with future redesign of the brochure.

Rottweiler owner Terese Dunn said the City made a certain breed a target and “created anguish to owners and misinformed the community in wrongly educating susceptible minors and adults to a flawed opinion”.

“The image the (City) used gives a false perception and an inappropriate portrayal of the Rottweiler breed, it portrays the Rottweiler attacking, where anyone that knows the breed can see the dog is actually just running or perhaps even chasing a ball,” she said.

“It’s biased, unfair and insulting, not just to the breed itself but to the Rottweiler community from everywhere in Australia and overseas.”

Registered Rottweiler breeder Melissa Graham, who lives in the City of Wanneroo, said the breed had a “bad reputation for being vicious due to miss informed people and uninformed media” coverage, with this yet another “misrepresentation”.

“A Rottweiler is not an aggressive dog they are far from it, they are a very loyal breed that will lay its life on the line for its owners, and this can be taken the wrong way,” she said.

“There are many different reasons that any and all breeds or mix breed of dog could cause harm.”

The owner of Diziz Rottweilers said the City shouldn’t have used an image and that whatever breed chosen to be pictured would be stereotyping that particular breed.

Dog behaviour expert Seth Pywell from Perth Dog Trainers said a dog’s breed had nothing to do with aggression, rather their environment and emotional state.

“Typically you’re going to find more variation in a single litter than across breed, there’s several things a dog needs in order to have that ability to show aggression towards a human,” he said.

“I believe the City has decided to use the picture of the Rottweiler because they’re physically powerful dogs but there’s more to the equation.”

The Swan Valley resident said his first thought when seeing the image was that the dog didn’t look dangerous, instead like it was playing with a ball and was friendly.

“The issue that occurs is that when you label a breed and use it as a poster child for aggressive or dangerous dogs of course you’re going to offend people,” he said.

“It’s like using an ethnic minority group and saying ‘burglaries are up 20 per cent’ and then using a picture of a minority group, obviously they’re going to get upset.”

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