The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) has launched a comprehensive framework detailing a national policy solution for dog bite prevention.
AVA spokesperson and veterinary behaviourist, Dr Kersti Seksel said that existing approaches haven’t always been backed up by a solid base of evidence.
“We hear about horrific dog bite incidents that tend to attract extensive media attention, and governments turn to policies that include banning or controlling particular breeds of dogs.
“These incidents are certainly tragic, especially as children are often the victims.
“But measures that ban dog breeds aren’t effective in addressing aggression in dogs, don’t increase public safety and are expensive and unworkable.
“The AVA’s model draws on the best scientific research, experience and legislative models from around the world.
“It’s important to remember that most dogs don’t bite and most bites happen in homes with familiar family pets. We need to address these incidents as well as those that happen in public places,” she said.
Television vet, Dr Chris Brown, has endorsed the AVA approach.
“This is such an important issue, it’s also an incredibly emotive one. Both dog and non-dog owners deserve a solution that’s not just fair but also effective at reducing dog bites.
“The AVA has worked incredibly hard to deliver a strategy that will work nationwide, rather than the state by state approach we currently have that really lacks any consistency,” Dr Brown said.
The policy solution sets out ways to identify and manage potentially dangerous dogs before they become dangerous, as well as dealing with dogs that have menaced or injured people or other animals.
The AVA framework also highlights the additional components needed to properly address the complex causes of dog bites:
- Effective identification and registration of all dogs
- A national reporting system for all dog bite incidents with mandatory reporting
- Temperament testing
- Education of pet owners, breeders, parents and children
- Adequate enforcement and resourcing.
“AVA representatives will be meeting with ministers, parliamentarians and policy makers around the country in coming weeks to explain and promote the policy solution,” said Dr Seksel.
“We’re hopeful that these discussions will move us to a more nationally consistent and evidence-based approach to reducing dog bites in the community.”
The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is only the national association representing veterinarians in Australia. Founded in 1921, the AVA today represents 7500 members working in all areas of animal science, health and welfare.