Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I don't like it - let's BAN it! Breed Specific Legislation in Australia

Ever get sick of having the same argument over and over again, with people who you thought were otherwise reasonable and logical thinkers?
There was recently a tragic dog attack in Melbourne where a toddler was killed. This kind of emotive reporting from The Australian newspaper about the issue has the public calling, once again, for a breed ban. The article itself states the dog was a pitbull cross but doesn't state how it was identified, and it recounts other recent serious dog attacks which involved Bull-Mastiff crosses, pig hunting dogs and a Siberian Husky.

This kind of reporting, with the typical emotive quote from someone who is far from a dog expert, is very common here:

"I don't mind saying I hate seeing these dogs walking the streets," Superintendent Graham Kent said. "They look mean -- they usually are."

The proposed solution - banning all pitbulls and pitbull crosses is a reflection of a society where if anything upsets enough people - it is banned or heavily regulated. Pitbulls are already heavily regulated. They must be sterilised, there are requirements about the houses they are kept in, they must be on leash and muzzled at all times in public. They can not be imported. These rules mean that for pitbulls to even exist in Australia in the first place, they have come from shadowy corners of society. They have a reputation for being stoic, fierce and loyal and that is why shadowy people want them.
If there were no pitbulls (or dogs that look like pitbulls but aren't necessarily), another powerful, stoic, guarding type breed would become the favorite of these people - Rottweilers perhaps, or Dobermanns, and they would be the next dog on the banned list.
Some argue that tougher criminal penalties should apply to the owners of dogs that attack unprovoked. That may well be the case, but another route that is available is the civil one - sue for compensation. That is a route that is available in the here and now. Then the facts of the case can be examined in the open light of day instead of a partial story being trumpeted by an emotion fuelling media who are just in it to get more hits to their webpages.
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