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Home » Archive » 2012

TDK conference 2012

Dangerous Dogs Legislation: A Comparison of Selected Jurisdictions
Ferguson Nicola Ann - year 4
SzIU, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Department of State Veterinary Medicine and Agricultural Economics
Supervisor: Dr. László Ózsvári

Abstract:

Dogs have been considered to be “mans’ best friend” for thousands of years. However in recent years the number of dog bites, and in particular fatalities, is said to have increased.

The purpose of this thesis has been to examine whether there is indeed a problem with dangerous dogs within society, what legislative measures are being taken in different jurisdictions and whether such measures are proving to be effective.

Many countries have sought to solve the problem of dangerous dogs by the introduction of breed specific legislation, banning and imposing restrictions on certain breeds, most commonly the Pitt-Bull Terrier. Overwhelmingly the advice from veterinarians and dog behaviour experts is that breed specific legislation is ineffective. Hungary and the Netherlands are two jurisdictions in which breed specific legislation has been repealed in favour of new, more progressive legislation. In these countries the view is that “deed not breed” should be the primary consideration.

Most dog bites, including fatalities, occur in the home from dogs known to the victim. In all but one UK fatality since 2006, irresponsible dog ownership was a key factor. This is an important consideration when devising a strategy to reduce dog bite incidents.

The rise of weapon dogs within society should also not be under-estimated. The poor breeding and treatment of these dogs poses animal welfare concerns in addition to posing a risk to members of the public.

Legislation alone is not the answer to the problem of dangerous dogs. Legislators themselves are not immune to pressure from society, leading to rushed, badly thought out breed specific legislation. Press reporting is often biased, misinforming the general public, although campaigns by dog owners, such as in the case of Lennox and United Airlines can help redress the balance.

In order to effectively tackle the problem of dangerous dogs I would suggest that a combination of measures be used. Breed specific legislation should be repealed and replaced with legislation which tackles individual dogs showing problems with aggression. Amendments to the legislation would include more strict animal welfare laws. Education of both dog owners and the general public is key, and I would also recommend compulsory registration and micro-chipping of dogs and the establishment of a national reporting system of dog bite incidents.



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