Dog breeds linked to attacks
DOG attacks on humans always make a big splash in the media, especially in the rare and tragic instances where a child or elderly person is killed.
Always, the breed of the dog is mentioned and the usual suspects include pit bull terriers, american staffordshire terriers, rottweilers and mastiffs.
Indeed, the current legislative approach in most jurisdictions targets specific breeds of dogs considered at higher risk of aggressive and dangerous behaviour.
Certain breeds are banned from importation and others are liable for stringent restrictions on their ownership.
The list of restricted breeds (and cross breeds) includes: pit bull terriers, american pit bull, japanese tosa, and a couple of dodgy sounding hombres from South America called dogo argentino and fila brasileiro.
A local council can also declare any offending dog to be a restricted dog, regardless of breed.
In recent days the Australian Veterinary Association has released a policy briefing paper, entitled "Dangerous dogs- A sensible solution".
The AVA does not believe that a breed-based approach reduces public risk.
They hold that evidence shows that such an approach just doesn't work and veterinary associations in Britain, the US and Canada have the same view. This view is based on a number of factors.
Firstly, there is evidence to suggest that breed on its own is not a good predictor of aggression.
Secondly, they argue that it is not possible to determine the breed of the types of dogs on the restricted list by their appearance or DNA analysis.
Also, they consider that breed-specific legislation ignores the human element, whereby dog owners who desire this kind of dog will simply substitute another breed of dog of similar size, strength and perception of aggressive tendencies.
The AVA paper advocates a more nuanced approach based on early identification of individual animals that pose a risk, and intervention to protect the community.
The proposed system of measures includes identification and registration of all dogs, mandatory reporting of all dog-bite incidents to a national database, temperament testing, education programs and adequate resourcing so that dog management regulations can be actually enforced.