2011/15: Are Victoria's new dangerous and restricted dog laws appropriate?
Introduction to the media issue
Video clip at right:
An August, 2011, ABC clip aired after a fatal attack on a child in Melbourne. This clip shows an RSPCA spokesperson outlining her own and her organisation's reaction. If you cannot see this clip, it will be because video is blocked by your network. To view the clip, access from home or from a public library, or from another network which allows viewing of video clips.
What they said...
'People should not be in fear of a dog attack when they are walking down a street or their children are playing in their backyard'
Peter Walsh, the Victorian Minister for Agriculture
'This is canine genocide that is all it is. Since restrictions were imposed on pit bulls in 2005 there has been no reduction in overall dog attacks'
Colin Muir, president of the American Pit Bull Breeders Association of Australia
The issue at a glance
On August 18, 2011, four-year-old Ayen Chol was savaged to death by a pit bull cross which had run into the front room of the house in St Albans, Melbourne, where the little girl was living. The dog had previously attacked another family member outside the house.
On August 30, 2011, in response to this fatal dog attack, the Victorian Government altered its dangerous dog laws so that all pit bull and pit bull crosses now have to be registered and desexed by September 29, 2011 or Councils will be able to seize and destroy them. The same requirements are imposed on other restricted breeds and on dogs deemed dangerous.
By extending the restricted dog classification to include pit bull crosses the government has raised the issue of how accurate identification can be achieved; however, it has promised to supply a visual classification document to assist with this process.
The Government has also established a 'hot line', a telephone ring-in service, to be used by members of the public who wish to report a dangerous dog.
On September 13, the Victorian Government introduced into Parliament a bill which will see owners of declared dangerous, menacing or restricted breed dogs serve up to 10 years in jail if their dog kills another person. The bill is very likely to become law as it has the support of the Opposition.
Victoria's new dog laws have met with a mixed response. On the one hand there are those who see them as a strong and welcome response to a serious problem.
On the other there are those who believe they are an unworkable over-reaction.