Animal charity fights to save banned dog breeds

A national animal charity is calling on the government to repeal law which requires certain dogs to be killed based purely on their looks.

When crossbreed Duncan arrived at Blue Cross, in Victoria, a malnourished and injured stray, staff devoted time and love nursing him back to health.

He was described as a “gentle giant” who was eager to learn basic commands with a soft nature perfectly suited to a family pet, yet Duncan was denied that future.

His carers were legally obliged to report him as a stray to the Status Dogs Unit who deemed his physical measurements to be that of a dog banned under section one of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, and Duncan’s fate was sealed. He was euthanised, much to the heartbreak of Blue Cross staff.

Blue Cross is campaigning for section one of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, which bans the pitbull terrier, Japanese tosa, dogo Argentino and fila Brasilerio types, to be overturned.

Sarah Dickinson, head of media relations at Blue Cross, said: “We believe, the same as many other pet charities, there is no scientific evidence for these dogs being any more dangerous than any other breed and often many innocent dogs are condemned to death simply by looking a certain way and being identified as a ‘type’.”

She added: “Any dog could potentially be aggressive or dangerous in the wrong hands.

“There are a multitude of reasons why dogs may show aggression, it could be the way they are bred, it could be the environment they are raised in, it may be experiences that they have had and it also may be the way that they are trained or not trained.”

On Wednesday, June 13 the charity gave evidence at the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee’s inquiry into the breed specific legislation, supported by an online petition which now has over 43,000 signatures.

The legislation was originally introduced in an attempt to reduce the number of dog attacks in the United Kingdom, but Blue Cross believes the law has been ineffective in protecting the public from irresponsible dog owners at the expense of thousands of innocent dogs.

The number of hospital admissions for injuries caused by dogs is at its highest in a decade, with a growth of 76% between March 2005 and February 2015, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Steve Goody, Blue Cross deputy chief executive, said: “The years following the implementation of the Dangerous Dogs Act have shown that vilifying certain breeds of dog does not serve to reduce the number of dog attacks.

“If we are to see any immediate progress we must focus our efforts on educating dog owners about their responsibilities and crack down on those who ignore this advice and use dog ownership for illegal and irresponsible purposes.

“Responsible dog owners understand the importance of careful breeding, early socialisation and training.”

He added: “Cases like Duncan’s have a devastating emotional impact on our hardworking team who are forced unjustifiably to put a healthy dog to death.”

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