dog owners fight back
REPORTED last week, the Czech Government is set to jump on the BSL bandwagon
and implement draconian laws banning the keeping of certain dog breeds and imposing
harsh restrictions on the ownership of others, writes Nick Mays.
The proposed laws penalise all dogs over one metre (three feet) in height as
being dangerous, and has led to a campaign organised by dog enthusiasts
Katerina & Petr Fridrich under the banner One Meter (sic).
As has been the case in Germany, the media seem to have sided with the anti-dog
politicians and have portrayed a number of sensationalist anti-dog stories.
Petr Fridrich told OUR DOGS: The Czech media dont want to be at
our side. Many members of Parliament dont like dogs. We need a strong
pro-dog lobby in the Czech Parliament and we want to get a good law passed,
not a bad law such has been used in Germany and elsewhere.
We are appealing to dog owners in Britain and around the world to help
us in our fight, and to sign our petitions, and add their voices to the protests
against these laws.
Nick Mays comments:
The following is a translation of the carefully drafted, detailed petition against
the proposed breed specific dog laws. It may look dauntingly long, but it is
well worth reading, as it represents a very intelligent, thoughtful approach
by responsible dog owners to the drafting of GOOD laws, which will not only
protect society from bad dog owners, but also to benefit the welfare of dogs
kept by responsible dog owners.
Perhaps a copy of similar petitions with similar aims should be presented to
politicians in every country which advocates BSL - including the British Government
who have still to repeal the Dangerous Dogs Act.
PETITION - ONE METER
Motto: We have been created and born to protect You and even lay down our lives
for You. Please do not allow our extinction as a result of some ones foolishness,
political motif or ignorance!
We, breeders and owners of dog breeds identified as problematical and dangerous,
together with the responsible dog owning public, call on the Czech republic
with an appeal to their humanity, tolerance, common sense and respect for nature
and especially for living animals.
We call on the public for support in our appeal to You, deputies Koristka and
Sojdrova, because you are working to create a proposed new law that would govern
the ownership of so-called dangerous dogs. We also appeal to other
Members of Czech parliament to consider very seriously the voices of all parties,
before they create an inhuman, senseless and generally useless piece of legislation,
which will lead to nothing, but discontent and material as well as emotional
damage to a significant part of society.
We chose the petition as a way of addressing You, deputies Zdenek Koristka and
Michaela Sojdrova, because the time is running and we cannot think of a faster
way to approach You and Your activity. We do it, because we are deeply concerned
by Your public statements regarding the above-mentioned bill. We are equally
concerned about unobjective, biased reporting in the media about your campaign.
We feel that the bill, your public appearances and the media campaign are highly
prejudiced, unobjective. Even though the law concerns us, we have not been invited
to take part in it. Your approach to the issue suggests nothing but mechanical
duplication of insensitive, dully bureaucratic and artificially constructed
regulations from some of West European countries, without consideration of traditions
and local conditions. Despite your repeated assurances that the prepared legislation
is not aimed against specific dog breeds (which is how every public presentation
and discussion on the topic starts) we fear that the bill will significantly
affect and limit human rights of large group of citizens and will lead into
senseless liquidation of afore mentioned dog breeds in our country.
These are our goals:
A sensible legislative arrangement of mutual relations between dog owners and
other citizens with defined rights, duties and responsibility of both parties.
This legislative norm must define relations people and the community and municipality.
It must be simple, unambiguous, understandable and applicable in normal life
We want to link the new law to existing legislation, which will enable us to
minimise and simplify it, as many situations addressed by the current bill proposal
are already well taken care of, by other laws.
Prevention of unfair and hysterical media campaigns aimed against certain dog
breeds in a way which can be classified as a crime of spreading false alarming
news. Such campaigns do not contribute to reasonable definition of relations
between dog owners and other society.
We strive for enlightenment through information - both for dog breeders and
the rest of the society and for the initiation of critical, but knowledgeable
discussion. We want the public to be informed about every dog-related incident
in an objective, unemotional manner, including proper analysis of the case and
responsibilities and description of what measures should be taken to prevent
a similar incident in the future.
We want to teach people tolerance and respect for rights of others as well as
responsibility and knowledge that violation of these rights means the perpetrator
will be held responsible before the law.
We demand consistent application of the above mentioned norms of coexistence
and behaviour even in areas where are similar norms are traditionally underestimated
WHAT WE DO NOT WANT AND WHAT WE REJECT IN PRINCIPLE
We reject any kind of discrimination against any particular dog breed and its
owners. No dog breed should be marked as fighting, dangerous
or even a kind of weapon, aimed at other human being. Defining a
dog breed as fighting or dangerous is a biological nonsense,
created for commercial purposes by sensation-seeking journalists. To our great
sorrow, this term is frequently used not only by media, but also by some veterinarians,
politicians, statesmen and also dog owners. We want to ban use of this terminology.
It is disinformative, misleading and racist in a way comparable to Nuremberg
laws of the Nazi Third Reich. No dog breed has been created to fight, hurt or
kill humans (at least in the Modern Era).
In the Justification part of the proposed law, You stress the liberal
character of Your concept, similar to the German system. However, we do
not understand, what is liberal about the German law, which leaves
dead dog bodies in its wake (see the horrible first hand report about the official
execution of family dog Baxter at the internet address http://www.schaeferhunde-vom-schwarzen
ghazal.de/links/baxter.htm), r.htm). (Also reported previously in OUR DOGS).
In the law, you describe only 9 dog breeds as dangerous.
These are: American Staffordshire Terrier, Dogo Argentino, Staffordshire Bull
Terrier, Bull Terrier, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Fila Brasileiro, Rottweiller, Dobermann,
Pit Bull Terrier and their crossbreeds. The ad-hoc and groundless selection
of is proof of your ignorance and lack of competence in this field. The number
of inaccuracies stated in the law proposal is yet another proof of your incompetence.
We ask You: who is Your professional consultant and why dont You respect
even the standpoint of Czech Veterinarian Chamber, who is our highest veterinary
authority, who denounced your dangerous - special-other classification
of dog breeds as nonsensical? What valid European Community Laws correspond
with Your proposal as You declare?
What is Your motivation? Where do You get the courage to present to Parliament
a bill which will affect lives and basic rights of tens of thousands of citizens,
while You lack even an elementary knowledge of the topic and while You even
failed to open a professional discussion with the expert community?
Let us not repeat mistakes of others. Let us not copy thoughtlessly laws of
other countries just because they are located to the West of our country. Their
legislation is no solution of the problem. It is just an attempt to pick up
votes and distract attention from other, more pressing issues.
We do not want to disregard criticism aimed against irresponsible dog owner.
We do not want to disregard rightful calls for corresponding legislation.
We also do not want to detract relevance of problem by declaring, that the afore
mentioned dog breeds are not potentially dangerous to humans. The Dog is a predator
and despite thousands of years of domestication, it still remains a carnivorous
predator. For this reason, every dog can be potentially dangerous for a human
under certain circumstances. Every dog is capable of harming a human and logically
speaking, the potential danger grows with the size, strength a power of the
However, all statistics place incidents involving the afore mentioned dangerous
dog breeds far behind German Shepherds, Cocker spaniels and even Dachshunds.
In light of this, it seems that opinion of Czech Veterinarian Chamber is more
objective than yours. Undoubtedly, the veterinarians are professional par-excellence
and certainly know, why they say it is practically impossible to define
certain dog breeds as fighting, aggressive or dangerous.
We principally reject the intended order to use lead and muzzle on all public
areas. The proposed regulation robs dogs of practising free natural movement.
To keep a dog under such conditions means that dog owners will commit the crime
of animal maltreatment. Your regulation is reasonable and logical in public
transportation, at crowded public areas and everywhere where there is physical
contact of people with dogs - especially the larger breeds. However, it is unnecessary
to demand under penalty the use of lead and muzzle at lonely places, pathways
etc. On such places, the owner should be held fully responsible for ensuring
the dog will not cause any damage. However, he should be given the freedom to
decide on what measures he will use (based on the circumstances, nature of the
dog, level of training and physical dispositions of the dog leading person).
A perfectly trained dog will be under its masters control in any situation
without any lead and muzzle.
It is absolutely unnecessary to order any administrative regulation and appointment
of officially licensed trainers.
We protest, with all our hearts, against any intention to limit breeding or
even to liquidate any dog breeds. Raising of the proposed taxes and insurance
duty without set upper limit can lead into heavy financial difficulties of some
breeders and owners. Should the prepared law result in anything comparable with
extinction law, we will view the bill as contradicting the Constitution,
in which case we will appeal against it to the Czech Constitutional Court. Furthermore,
according to Charter of Human Rights, a citizens privacy may not be violated,
which means that controlling dog owners, whether they respect the law or not
would mean violation of the charter. In its consequence, the law would
not affect those who should be affected the most - irresponsible dog owners,
who have respect for no law and who should definitely not own a dog.
WHAT WE WANT AND PRINCIPALLY SUPPORT
We want the legislation to treat all dog breeds equally. The law must not differentiate
between officially determined disapproved dog breeds and the rest.
We acknowledge the necessity and obligation to mark every dog of any breed (including
cross breeds) when they reach certain age (for instance 6 months). At first,
this could be done by tattoo, later, when the technology allows, by microchips.
We acknowledge that it is a dog owners duty to have his dog insured against
damage caused to other citizens (even unintentional, accidental damage). The
height of the insurance fees should reflect the status of dog breeding and keeping.
However, its maximum level should be set to prevent the insurance companies
from charging dog owners unreasonably high premiums.
We support increased penalties in cases where dog owners violate the rules of
coexistence with other citizens and through negligence, insufficient control
over the dog, insufficient equipment or with intent to violate public order,
endanger private property, safety and health of persons, who have made no action
to cause the dog to attack.
We also want legal liability for people who cause a dog to attack them or other
person after they have intentionally provoked the dog to attack, tortured the
dog or approach, manipulate and touch an unknown dog without the dog owners
approval. The same liability should enforced on people who let loose a secured
dog with the owners approval, leave a child or other physically incapable
person with a dog without supervision, or enter premises guarded by dog while
the premises are clearly marked by warning signs, and those who attack the dog
owner or his family or endanger his property, in which case it is totally acceptable
for the dog to protect the attacked person or his masters property.
We strongly recommend the possibility of withholding the right to keep a dog
from owner, who, through negligence, insufficient supervision, insufficient
equipment or through bad intent, allows the dog to cause serious injury or damage
or who violated some of the afore mentioned laws (i.e. animal torture). Withholding
the right to keep dog should be applicable to all dog owners alike regardless
of the dog breed they own. We recommend delegating the decision-making on to
municipal authorities, which have good knowledge of the local conditions - but
we also recommend strict enforcement of this legislation.
In order to prevent possible misuse of these powers, the affected dog owner
should have the right to appeal to a court of law to re-examine his case, while
a specialist for the specific breed should be present at the hearing to give
an expert opinion on the case.
We stand for control and possible limitations or even ban of breeding establishments,
which produce high numbers of dogs purely on a commercial basis, without securing
adequate conditions for the animals, and which selectively and intentionally
produce aggressive dogs. Such breeders are often a source for future problematic
dog owners and should be rightfully criticised.
The right to keep an animal is included in the charter of Human Rights, once
again, we appeal to you, good people, help us save unique dog breed with exceptional
character. These dogs have been unlucky to attract hatred through an unobjective
campaign, which uses the prejudice and fear of ordinary people to achieve hidden
goals or satisfaction for a sensationalist media. Should these dogs be exterminated
just to increase print run of tabloid newspapers? Or to increase popularity
of politicians, who have nothing better to offer society? If you save these
dogs, you will save one of th best friends one can possibly have. They have
been created for our entertainment and protection. They are even willing to
die for their love of us. They deserve our protection.
Keepers and owners of non-fighting, safe and yet endangered dog
breeds. We, hereby signed dog owners, dog friends, friends of all other animals
and other good people, reject groundless discrimination in any form. We support
this petition and appeal on the state authorities to reconsiders their standpoint
on the issue of human-dog relations.
*The anti-BSL internet list, DogHolocaust is assisting with the fight against
the proposed Czech BSL laws, while the One Meter campaign has its
own website, which is: http://www.pitbullseden.cz/Petice.asp.
and Katrina Fridrich may be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org