The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) does not support bans on specific dog breeds in order to reduce dog attacks.

The AVA is instead calling for a multi-pronged response to reducing incidents of dog attacks, including a legislative approach to identifying individual potentially dangerous animals and preventing them from inflicting harm and a well-designed education program directed at all segments of society, particularly children and dog owners in lower socio-economic areas.

Dr Isabelle Resch, President of the AVA’s Australian Veterinary Behavioural Medicine special interest group, says that dog bites are the result of complex behaviour caused by the interaction of genetic factors, the learning and experience of the dog, pain and medical issues and the external environment they live in.

“The AVA, along with the national veterinary associations of Britain, the United States and Canada, recognise that breed-specific approaches to dog regulation are not effective as they do not protect the public by reducing dog bite incidents.

“A ‘Deed not Breed’ principle needs to be applied, which asserts that aggression in dogs is not tied to any particular breed, but is influenced by various individual factors and circumstances, not breed alone.”

Dr Resch said that the importance of being proactive rather than reactive when it comes to addressing dog behaviour issues cannot be overstated.

“There is a significant gap in community knowledge about how to live alongside and interact with animals, particularly dogs. This lack of understanding can lead to unsafe interactions and increase the risk of dog attacks.”

The AVA has released a comprehensive report, Dangerous Dogs – A Sensible Solution which provides a detailed critique of breed-specific legislation that bans breeds of dogs perceived to be aggressive.

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