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position on dangerous dogs
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The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe's
position on dangerous dogs
OVER THE last few decades the ownership of dogs primarily as companion animals has increased in the urban population, with benefits for the individual and the community. But, inevitably, it has also had some drawbacks.
Dog bite injuries have recently received increased publicity. Serious incidents involving dangerous dogs in several Member States have sparked fierce reactions and have led some Member states to call for a Community initiative to address this problem. This should however, be seen in the context that the majority of dogs never bite anyone.
Dog bites may be caused by various factors such as uncontrolled playing behaviour, lack of training, fear, pain, inappropriate offensive or defensive reactions. Sometimes dogs are also used as a weapon by criminals or are kept for fighting purposes.
To attempt to control these negative aspects of the dog-human interaction different countries have implemented various legislative measures. These measures can be divided into two categories. The first addressing the behaviour of the individual dog and the second addressing the behaviour of certain breeds or breed types.
To date, no scientific criteria have been identified by which it can be determined that a dog is dangerous by simply describing its racial or other physical parameters.
Breed-specific legislation has been shown to be difficult to apply due to the problem of defining breeds and breed types. This has been a major source of controversy.
Breed-specific legislation engenders a false and dangerous perception that breeds not included will not show aggression. Aggression is a normal behaviour and can be shown by any dog of any breed, type or mixed breeding.
Breed-specific legislation does not discriminate between individual members of a breed, many of which may not be predisposed to aggressive behaviour. Rather, all dogs of a specific breed, whatever their behaviour, are subject to the same restrictions.
In particular, since part of the problem originates from the criminal use of dogs by well known individuals, measures to control this should be taken directly towards them.
However, because of the lack of reliable scientific data, it is proposed that further research is conducted with the aim of developing tools which will allow a proper risk analysis of the aggressive behaviour of individual dogs.
A central database in every EU member state to collect data on dogs involved in aggressive incidents will also be required.
(c) Research Programmes
(d) Testing Programmes
Behaviour is also influenced by the environment, in which the animal develops and lives. Thus, the testing of the individual dog's predisposition to show aggression can allow owners to take appropriate steps to prevent any incidents. Such testing procedures are still in their infancy and require further development. Existing procedures, though scientifically validated, are to be extended so that it becomes feasible to apply them on a large scale.
1. Promote education and training of dogs, dog owners and dog professionals such as veterinarians and trainers.
2. Postpone the adoption of further breed-specific legislation until a proper risk analysis has been carried out.
3. Introduce a mandatory identification for all dogs, which is compatible across the European Union.
4. Encourage research, through the 5th Framework Research Program for example, in such fields as: dog behaviour and its genetical neuro-physiological and ethological background, dog bites, monitoring education and training of dogs, dog owners and dog professionals such as veterinarians and trainers.
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