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New Zealand government select committee
urged to throw out BSL

THE NEW Zealand government is now under extreme pressure from canine experts, as well as opposition MPs to throw out the breed specific element of its proposed new dog laws, following the a meeting of the Parliamentary Sub Committee on the proposed amendments to the Dog Control Act 1996 earlier this week.

The select committee, having studied expert submissions, invited various groups, organisations and individuals to speak to them at a special meeting on Monday.

Anti BSL campaigner Marion Harding attended, and told OUR DOGS: "There could be another date set yet for further invited parties to speak. It apparently depends on whether the committee feel they have sufficient information before them now to consider in their decision making process. They will then make the decision as to whether this Bill proceeds further or not. If they feel it should go ahead, they will report their findings and recommendations. But the word at the meeting was very definitely an anti-BSL one."

Amongst the speakers at the meeting were several Territorial Authorities, some by phone and some, including Marlborough authority, appearing in person. Also present were: Ray Greer, President of the New Zealand Kennel Club, Clyde Rogers Exec. Member of the NZKC, Rod Jamieson Dog Training Chairperson, Frank Denson of the Canterbury Bull Terrier Club and Ann Byers, President of the Southern Cross Staffordshire Bull Terrier Society, with canine expert Dr Kersti Seksel, Australia via Power Point showing video clips and photos.

Each person's or group's presentation was different, reflecting the fact that people had varying concerns about the Bill.

Some were opposed to the intended fencing laws whereby the property has to be fenced in such a way that callers – invited or uninvited - have free access to a door of a property without coming in contact with the householder’s dog. Alarm at people's rights and the costs of this would look set to throw this amendment to the Bill out.

Others were opposed to the intent to allow dog control officers to come onto private land to seize a dog, whilst others spoke out against the proposed power for officers to enter private dwellings in pursuit of a dog.

Muzzling was also another hotly debated issue, amongst others.

BSL for any breed

Staffordshire Bull Terriers versus Pit Bull Terriers was a topic the committee came back to repeatedly, as they tried to get to grips with what they termed ‘the identification issue’
The NZKC and many others spoke out loud and clear about the difficulties in wsuch identification. The Veterinary Nurse helped in a way that she couldn't have known she was able to. She told the committee that she could easily identify both breeds; she pointed out that the Staffordshire Bull Terrier was always brindle or black and the Pit Bull was always a fawn colour. Very luckily this point was picked up by Nedra Shand, who was in the public gallery and she was asked to address this issue during her own presentation later. As luck would have it she had a copy of the SBT standard with her and she read out the colour section of that standard. What that showed was that even the people who believe they are experts and think they know the difference can be wrong.

Marion Harding comments: " NZKC made it very clear that you either have BSL or you don't. You can't be for banning some breeds and not others. The NZKC came out strongly against BSL."

The NZ Veterinary. Association spoke in the afternoon and came out strongly against BSL. The Association had Dr Kersti Seksel speaking from Australia on a Power Point big screen and she was extremely well received. We were so lucky to have her.

Marion Harding told OUR DOGS: "That really is all that can be reported at this time. It’s now all a waiting game until the Select Committee, having staged other public presentations, will make their recommendation to Government. We have done our very best. We haven't won yet, but this is the stage we have been working towards. From here it needs good lobbying to individual MPs. New Zealanders and all anti-BSL campaigners must keep up the pressure!"

"I would just like everyone to know that I have fought very hard for the American Pit Bull Terrier in the same breath as I have fought for my own beloved breed in this campaign.

Thank you all!"