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.