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New Zealand: BSL still a fact


CONFUSION SURROUNDS the New Zealand Government’s plans to introduce Breed Specific laws after a period of public consultation on the issue

One of the leading anti-BSL campaigners in New Zealand expressed her concern at an erroneous report about the NZ Government’s intentions that was published on the front page of our contemporary on July 11th, which may lead people to believe that Staffordshire Bull Terriers were once in the Government’s sights as a dangerous breed but have now been reprieved.

Attacked

"I was concerned to see the headlines and article ‘New Zealand Sees Sense on Staffords’ in a UK newspaper," said Staffordshire Bull Terrier owner Marion Harding, talking exclusively to OUR DOGS. "It was never stated anywhere by the NZ Government that they intended restricting ownership of Staffordshire Bull Terriers. The dog that attacked Carolina Anderson In January of this year was reported incorrectly to be a Staffordshire Bull Terrier on a couple of occasions by newspapers.

"However, the Internal Affairs Survey on Dog Bites Interim report March 2003 identified SBTs as top of the list of biters. The Final report of the Internal Affairs Survey on Dog Bites released June 2003 had collated the data differently following much pressure from interest groups as to the inaccuracy of the Interum report results. This resulted in Government Minister Chris Carter taking the information to consideration when he drew up the proposed law changes."

Carter’s proposed law changes ban importation of the 'famous four' (the American Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Fila Brasiliero and Dogo Argentino) because they are considered ‘more dangerous’ than any other breed.Under the planned new law, Local authorities would be able to name any dog or breed potentially dangerous whereby it will go on the list and will be muzzled. They can name these based on observed behaviour or characteristics.

"These proposals are before the Parliamentary select committee now and they called for submissions from the public which closed on 20th June," says Marion. "However, it seems that they may have extended that time to 20th July. When they have considered all of those they will hear oral submissions (people speaking to their submissions, such as myself).

After that they will report back to Government with their findings. From there the Bill will have its second and third readings in Parliament and either be passed or fail.

Inaccurate

Marion expresses her annoyance that some anti-BSL campaigners in other countries are not listening to her and are inaccurately reporting the state of play about BSL in New Zealand. "I have kept saying to them that we are not out of the woods yet but they are not listening, which is where you get erroneous reports like the one just published," she adds. "The word is that SBTs are safe. Well they may be right at this moment and they may be in two months time, but if these laws go through how long will it be before they are grabbed as ‘potentially dangerous’ and how long will it be before they add further to those laws. From what I’ve seen in the UK, plenty of Staffordshire Bull Terrier crosses and even a number of pedigree SBTs were seized under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

"BSL is still a fact in New Zealand and we must keep up the pressure to prevent these laws from being enacted. As long as BSL exists, then no breed of dog is safe, whether they are SBTs or anything else. If anyone wants to know the facts, ask those of us who are campaigning in the country where it’s happening," she concluded