|What Is Breed Specific Legislation?|
Since 2005, Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) has been in place in Victoria through the Domestic (Feral and Nuisance) Animals Act 1994. It is also in place in every other state of Australia except the ACT and NT. BSL places restrictions on certain breeds due to a perception that they are inherently dangerous. In Victoria, the following breeds are restricted under BSL ?
The American Pitbull Terrier;
The Fila Brasiliairo;
The Dogo Arentino;
The Japanese Tosa;
And the Perro de Presa Canairo (Presa Canerio)
It is prohibited by Victorian law to buy, sell, trade, or dispose of these breeds and owners are forced to abide by special requirements to keep these breeds. For more information on Victoria?s laws visit the Department Of Primary Industry website at www.dpi.vic.gov.au.
Why BSL Is Unjust And Doesn?t Work!
Breed Specific Legislation fails to take into account that any breed of dog can be dangerous when in the hands of an irresponsible and neglectful owner. Basing its logic on the notion that certain breeds of dogs present an immediate danger, BSL punishes responsible owners and their beloved pets simply due to their appearance and breed. Meanwhile ample evidence is available to show that BSL does nothing to reduce the rate of dog incidents in the community.
First being introduced in the United Kingdom with the UK Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, BSL has proved to be a dismal failure. Investigation has found that dogs were responsible for 73.9% of all bites before enactment of the legislation and 73.1% of all bites after the legislation had been introduced (Seksel, K, 2002, page 9). A report commissioned by the NSW Government confirms this to be the case in the Australian context also (visit the ASTCV website for a copy of this report).
The flipside of this coin is that thousands of innocent dogs have been destroyed in Australia since the introduction of BSL, leaving many families distraught at the loss of their beloved pets and many more living in fear that their pet could be next.
BSL and the American Staffordshire Terrier
In Australia the Amstaff has never been classified as a restricted breed. Rather it is known as a people loving, humour-filled dog that is becoming increasingly popular due to its great temperament and robust structure. However experiences from other parts of the world tell us to be vigilant against the threat of BSL.
In some countries in Europe, notably the UK and Norway, and some jurisdictions in the USA, the American Staffordshire Terrier has fallen under the hammer of BSL. This is due to the breeds close resemblance and ancestry to other restricted breeds, despite there being no scientific evidence to support any notion that the American Staffordshire Terrier poses a threat to the community. In fact evidence from the American Temperament Test Society shows that the Amstaff has an average temperament test pass rate above that of the Society?s all breeds average and much higher than many other popular breeds. (Battista, F, 2007).
What Is The AMERICAN STAFFORDSHIRE TERRIER CLUB OF VICTORIA Doing About BSL? (ASTCV)
Point 12 of the Aims & Objectives of the ASTCV reads ?
To oppose by legal means any introduction or further extension of any breed specific or breed referencing legislation relating to the American Staffordshire Terrier.
Members of the ASTCV work to protect our breed from BSL in many ways. On the individual level this starts with being responsible owners and ambassadors for our breed wherever we go.
As an organised body, the ASTCV works to oppose BSL in a number of ways. One of the Clubs primary activities is to attend Pet & Animal Expo?s wherever possible, where the Club?s colourful stands introduce our breed to thousands of members of the general public. The volunteers who staff these stalls, along with their wonderful Amstaffs, work to explain the pitfalls of BSL to the general public and to showcase the great attributes of this magnificent breed in a positive manner. For information on the next Pet Expo the ASTCV will be attending please visit www.astcvic.com.
In addition to this the ASTCV is working closely with Dogs Victoria to resist these threats and to provide positive solutions to the issue of dog management in our communities.
What Can You Do About BSL?
The first blow any Amstaff lover can deal against BSL is to be a responsible and outstanding dog owner! The American Staffordshire Terrier is a fantastic dog, one that will bring you lots of joy throughout your time in the breed. However due to it?s close resemblance and ancestry to some restricted breeds, and its natural feisty terrier nature, the Amstaff requires an owner who is conscious of the current legislative climate and is willingly to go the extra mile to ensure their Amstaff is an outstanding canine citizen. This means having your Amstaff under effective control at all times and never allowing it to roam at large. Treat your dog and all others with the respect they deserve. Keeping your Amstaff free from any trouble is the first step to protecting this breed for generations to come.
To protect yourself, never buy an American Staffordshire Terrier that does not have pedigree papers issued by the Australian National Kennel Council. Due to our breed?s resemblance to some restricted breeds, an Amstaff without pedigree papers runs the risk of being mistaken for a restricted breed and at its worst this could lead to your beloved pet being confiscated by some councils