The AVA has prepared a comprehensive framework outlining evidence-based policy responses to dog bite prevention.
Periodically the community is faced with horrific dog bite incidents, and sadly the victims are often children. These incidents tend to attract extensive media attention, accompanied by simplistic ‘solutions’ to aggressive behaviour in dogs. Policy responses to dog bites have increasingly turned to banning or controlling particular breeds of dogs (breed-specific legislation or BSL).
The AVA’s policy is firmly opposed to breed-specific legislation, so the association has invested in preparing a comprehensive report detailing its faults while also setting out an evidence-based alternative approach.
Dangerous dogs – a sensible solution sets out a legislative framework that focuses on identifying and managing ‘potentially dangerous dogs’ before they become ‘dangerous dogs’. This legislative framework needs to be supported by complementary components of an effective policy solution including:
- Effective identification and registration of all dogs
- A national reporting system to track dog bite incidents consistently with mandatory reporting of dog bite incidents to the national database
- Temperament testing encouraged by reduced registration costs, and able to be mandated by animal control authorities
- Education of the whole community including pet owners, breeders, parents and children
- Adequate enforcement and resourcing to ensure compliance.
An ambitious national advocacy campaign to governments, policy makers and stakeholders about the AVA’s policy solution has already begun. Meetings will be taking place in each state as well as at a national level. Well-known veterinary behaviourist Kersti Seksel will be the key AVA spokesperson for ministerial and other high-level meetings while division presidents and executive officers will be coordinating communication in each of the states.
The national campaign will be launched in the media on Tuesday 14 August.