After the Netherlands lifted their pitbull law, also other countries follow.
Italy will eliminate its list of dangerous dogs—replacing it with a law making owners more responsible for their pet's training and behavior.
The new law, effective in April 2009, will eliminate the current list of 17 breeds which are considered potentially dangerous, including Rottweilers, American pit bull terriers, bull mastiffs and American bulldogs.
Under the current law, owners of blacklisted breeds are required to keep them muzzled in public places and ensure that they pose no danger to others. Failure to respect the law can result in the animal being put down.
New Law Puts Responsibility On Owner
The new law is built on the foundation that any dog, regardless of breed, can potentially be dangerous and it puts the responsibility—morally and legally—on the owners for a dog’s behavior.
“This is a historic day because we have established for the first time the responsibility of the owner or the person who is momentarily in charge of the animal” says Health Undersecretary Francesca Martini.
The new law forbids training dogs to be aggressive using sticks and protective body gear, doping, surgery that is not for health purposes and dangerous cross-breeding. The law also makes veterinarians responsible for compiling a register of individual dogs who they believe may be potentially high risk, requiring owners to keep those pets muzzled in public.
Mrs. Martini added that the previous law had no scientific foundation and compared it to a “fig leaf over the larger problem.”
Dangerous breeds do not exist. With this law we have overcome the black list, which was just a fig leaf (over the larger problem), and we have increased the level of guarantees for citizens.
Breed banning does not solve the problem. It does not protect people, it does not keep people safer. We see this demonstrated again and again, and still there are so many people, groups, governments who cling ferociously to the idea that we just need to ban more dogs, and more dogs. Until we end up with the crazy list of 92 breeds that Italy had and still had people getting bitten.
That said, there’s a lot to be scared of in this new legislation. All dogs are now considered suspect.
Under the new law, vets will be responsible for compiling a register of individual dogs who they believe may be potentially high risk, and it will be obligatory for owners to keep these pets muzzled in public. The law also requires dog owners to keep their pets on a lead at all times in urban areas as well as to pick up their dog’s mess, and to carry a muzzle with them in case of need. It also forbids training dogs to be aggressive using sticks and protective body gear, doping, surgery that is not for health purposes and dangerous cross-breeding.
What scares me is the mention that vets will be responsible for reporting dogs that they feel are potentially dangerous. That is a tremendously bad idea, in my opinion. That is the kind of thing that keeps people from seeking appropriate medical care for their dogs out of fear that their dog will be turned over to the government. There are lots of dogs in this world who react very poorly in a vet’s hospital but who never threaten anybody else, who go their whole lengthy lives without doing anybody any harm. And vets certainly are not without prejudices and fears of their own.
There’s also that whole “no surgery that is not for health purposes” bit (which includes cropping and docking, which I don’t like anyway). Too much gray area (what about spaying/neutering for instance?) for the government to be making decisions.
And what the heck is “dangerous cross-breeding”? I’m guessing they don’t mean these Labradoodles that are being created left and right around here. But who decides what is “dangerous” and what is not, and then aren’t we just back to all this breedist nonsense again anyway?
Still we should be glad to see them turning away from Breed Specific restrictions. I just wish governments were doing a better job of drafting their all-breed legislation.
This article is provided in both a Dutch and English version hosted on our site: