Monday, 12 May 2008

Putting Good Dogs Down

BORN THE WRONG BREED: Today we mourn the loss of two vibrant, healthy, desexed, 3 year old dogs who were put down by their loving, and experienced Doberman owner. Here is a quote from one family who knew these dogs:

"It is a sad old world when dog lovers of such obvious passion are placed in such an impossible position. I hope the gutless council members involved in this travesty of justice choke on their tea and scones. And to think we by our ambivalence and lack of involvement in local government affairs are passively supporting these people.

And for what ?

Well there is always vibrant discussion and obstruction when some poor resident submits a development application for a driveway 2 inches wider than regulation. They do a song and dance to protect their precious regulations. Well this time it was more important than the width of a driveway.

Tonight children who were fortunate enough know your dogs are crying themselves to sleep. And when they ask why you had to put them to sleep, perhaps our elected officials can fill in the blanks because I can't. I attempted the dangerous dog line only to be corrected by my daughter bringing the wisdom that her five years have given her.

No Dad, that cannot be because the dogs are not dangerous. Of course she is right."

Barking Mad comments: This post is as much of a warning as it is a memorial to these two dogs and their courageous owners. The owners, who provided 5 fenced acres for their pets and who nearly never left the dogs alone, fought a protracted battle against one dangerous dog accusation, an 'incident' with conflicting reports and a neighbour who strongly believed that dobermans should not be kept as pets. The matter did not go before the court. The dog was not found guilty of being dangerous and strong evidence from professional dog trainers favoured this finding if it had gone to court. So why give up after 6 months? They were not going to win. Rhetoric wins over fact, belief wins over science and it's politically easier to remove a perceived threat than to look at cause and effect . "No community minded, responsible citizens should ever have to go through what my wife and I have had to endure; almost 6 months of gut wrenching stress for the benefit of absolutely no one."

The dangerous dog declaration in NSW can happen to anyone and any dog that is ever outside of it's property. When my dog lunged at another dog who also lunged at her while both owners were going opposite directions on a pedestrian crossing and both dogs were on leads is enough to declare both dogs dangerous if someone takes offense to this doggie behaviour. What's wrong with the provisions of the current Act:
  • The provisions came in as a political reaction.
  • A dangerous dog declaration can be made on a council officer's own initiative or on the written application of any other person (YES – ANY PERSON).
  • The owner of the dog is subject to penalty before evidence or trial - guilty before proven.
  • Council will favour matters going to a court so they wash their hands of any incidents.
  • On the positive, some Councils now realise the extensive financial burden of these provisions and are reviewing their enforcement procedures with a view of more fairness to the dog and owner.
I myself have witnessed 'breedist' behaviour from people who are conditioned to be frightened of big dogs, shepherds and dobermans. We don't know all the facts in this case, and never will because it didn't go to court. Because of that, I can make no other comments other than to point out the guilty before innocent application of the 'dangerous' provision of the current law. I will also say that I have received numerous calls from dog trainers who are very fed up with slap happy rangers who declare dogs dangerous as a result of any complaint. I've also received calls from owners who have voluntarily put their dog down (mostly rescue dogs) when they were not able to obtain a required level of trust of the dogs' behaviour. I was surprised at a comment from someone working in an off-leash dog area for several years: "I would say that Maltese Terriers are responsible for half of the dog aggression incidents I have seen".

We try to do the best with our dogs and meet societys' ever increasing standard of acceptable dog behaviour. No longer will we tolerate dog coming back from a day out playing with a bite out of its ear. But with ever increasing restrictions on where we can take pooch, and households with fewer people, it can be difficult to socialise a dog to the level required.


Tracey said...

I've had a neighbour attempt to get my dogs declared dangerous after their cat came over my back fence, then into the dog pen where I had my 3 Rotties.
Let us note that the back fence was 6' high, and the dog pen fence is 7' high - and the dogs were fully contained.
Let us also note that the cat in question did not survive the experience... causing ME some considerable distress as well as the owner of the cat.
The next thing I know is I'm getting a call from the council telling me that the ranger will be around to check out my dogs. No problem says I, and the ranger duly arrives, lets himself into my dog pen and sits down and plays with my 3 slobbery beasts... needless to say, the ranger didn't think that my babies were in the slightest bit dangerous, and made the ruling as such.
So - the neighbour wasn't happy with that, and the next thing I know, I have one dog in the vet for a week, and one dog dead from poison baits thrown into the yard while I was at work!
The neighbour has told other neighbours that she had done this evil deed, but how does one actually prove that in court?
My dogs are always inside now when I'm not at home, and my yard is checked on a daily basis while cleaning up dog "presents" - and we haven't had any repeats of the baiting.
People can be such bastards... give me a dog any day - big or small!


Anonymous said...

i am currently in a court battle with manly council over a dangerous dog order that was put on our dog ( lab x husky )because it reacted to a daily attack over a 4 month period from 2 pugs that were being walked past our property OFF LEAD.

the ranger in question did not investigate the case at any point. we were told the sole priority was to ensure that manly council didnt get sued further down the line, so to protect themselves they just put the order on.

we have been approached by council 4 times in total urging us to drop the case due to how much money WE could loose.
it is a sad day when you can only get justice if you can afford it.
there's more to life than money.

for anyone going through the mess that is NSW DOG LEGISLATION be strong or be stronger to realise the extent of where it could all lead.

the interpretation of the order by rangers varies wildly, it doesn't surprise me that it is nearly always med/large breeds that are targeted whereas they tend to turn a blind eye to any dog under knee high even when being walked off lead.

aggression comes in all sizes.

Eedra at Barking Mad said...

Barking Mad is investigating numerous matters where NSW Councils' declare a dog dangerous on flimsy, contradictory and unsworn statements, without any due diligence on their part to determine the temperament of the dog accused, or the facts. We also have numerous matters where the conduct of rangers is threatening and bullying, despite their code of conduct to act with respect and politely. In addition to assisting getting these matters before a court, we are taking matters with certain councils to the Ombudsman. PLEASE – don’t think your treatment is an isolated incident; we get these reports ALL THE TIME. Check out the one is Tasmania where two dogs were confiscated, including a four month old puppy, when there was a warrant to take only one. 15 months later and the dogs are still held!,22884,23814285-3462,00.html
NSW DLG has issued DNA kits to deter ‘false accusations’ which often stem from a neighbour dispute – they ADMIT this happens. Do they use the DNA kits? We are yet to find out but the last two reports we investigated, they didn’t. Both of these were in the most complained about council in the state.