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The Netherlands: BSL ban lifted!
June 12, 2008 : 5:10 PM
Ban against pit bulls found not to work!
By Sharon St. Joan. Best Friends Network
In a major blow to proponents of BSL policies, Holland has lifted its ban on pit bulls!
On Monday, June 9, the Dutch Minister of Agriculture, Gerda Verburg, announced to the parliament that the rule banning pit bulls in the Netherlands would be lifted. After fifteen years, it has been found that the ban has been ineffective.
This represents a major victory for European animal advocates who have been opposing this breed specific legislation!
The lifting of the ban came on the advice of a committee that had been formed to re-consider the policy.
The ban had been imposed in 1993, as a reaction to the killing of three children by dogs. However, as Gerda Verburg, pointed out, there has been no decrease in the number of biting incidents during the fifteen years in which the ban has been in place.
So the ban seems not to have served the purpose for which it was designed.
How the ban worked--or rather didn't work!
In place of this policy, the emphasis will now be placed on making sure that local leash laws are being enforced and on education programs. By year's end, spokesperson Koen Geelink said, they plan to have a system for expert testing of any dogs who may have shown aggressive tendencies.
The policy in place for fifteen years has been known as RAD, which stands for "Arrangement for Aggressive Animals" in Dutch. It targets pit bulls and has aimed to eliminate dogs of the "pit bull terrier type."
RAD exempted purebred dogs that were registered in Holland, such as the American Staffordshire Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The policy was applied to non-registered dogs on the basis of their appearance as being of the "pit bull type". These characteristics included a powerful build, a square head, a pointed tail and a short coat. Genuine pit bulls (American Pit Bull Terriers) are not recognized as a real breed in Holland, and therefore they could not be registered as purebred.
Homes having a "pit bull-type dog" prior to 1993, were allowed to keep their dogs, provided that the dogs were on file with the police, spayed or neutered, and muzzled and kept on a short leash on walks.
In December 2000, Rottweilers were added to the proscribed list. They will be removed from the ban as well.
When a dog reached the age of six months, he or she could be examined by the authorities. If a dog who met the appearance criteria for being a "pit bull-type" (or other more recently proscribed type, like the Rottweiler) lacked a tattoo or a chip to indicate that he or she was a registered purebred, then the dog was confiscated and euthanized. The owner was fined a minimum of 120 Euros, plus any costs incurred.
Getting rid of a failed policy
Apart from the killing of innocent dogs that resulted from this misguided policy, one of the criticisms leveled at the regulation was that there was no behavior assessment of aggressive tendencies. This meant that of two siblings, a sweet, friendly pup who looked more like a "pit bull type" might be euthanized, while the other pup who looked less like a pit bull might not be. The only standard applied was the appearance of the dog.
This, of course, goes to the heart of the problem with BSL policies, which is that they are based on superficial criteria--the appearance or the breed of the dog. Secondly, the assumption that killing dogs who may be aggressive is the only way to ensure public safety is mistaken. Behavior modification, sanctuary, or both, are just a couple of options for humanely relating to dogs with aggression issues. The Netherlands is to be commended for doing away with a policy which wasn't working and which cost dogs their lives.
The Netherlands is one of the countries listed on the World Animal Net website as having model animal protection laws and policies. Many Dutch organizations and individuals do a monumental job of assisting struggling animal organizations in Spain, Greece, Romania and other countries. Dutch groups send support, arrange adoptions for dogs and run programs that send trained volunteers to accompany the dogs from other countries on plane trips to their new adoptive homes in Holland.
Congratulations to the Netherlands for lifting the ban on pit bulls, which had tarnished their otherwise outstanding record of kindness to animals!
Thanks to the website Breed Specific Legislation for providing information that was helpful in this article. (http://bsl.bsl-sbt.com/bsl/rad.php)
Photo:© John Blumenkamp / Dreamstime.com
What you can do
To visit the Best Friends Community "Stop Breed Specific Legislation, please go to:
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