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Timely advice to Israel on BSL from UK campaigner

A LEADING British dog expert has advised the Israeli Government to think carefully before rubber-stamping draconian Breed Specific Legislation into law which, he points out, is based on a flawed German law – which would surely be the last country Israel should seek to copy.

The Israeli Government has enacted Breed Specific Legislation following the death of a four year-old child attacked by an American Stafford last month. The Knesset approved preliminary proposals in a vote last month to effectively outlaw Amstaffs, Pit Bulls and Rottweilers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers. According to the Bills, such dogs will only be permitted under severe veterinary supervision and specific conditions. Violators will be subject to a maximum three year prison term.

Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz announced that he would issue regulations that will stiffen conditions for keeping dangerous dogs as house pets, including registering them with authorities. However, MPs want to eliminate dangerous dogs from the country entirely.

British anti-BSL campaigner, Dave Levy, of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breed Council wrote to one of the main Israeli daily newspapers calling on the Government to drop its plans for breed specific laws and to concentrate on enhancing existing laws, pointing out the many historical precedents for avoiding such knee-jerk reaction.

Mr Levy wrote:

‘It is quite understandable that the tragic death of Avivit Ganon [last week] will cause fear and reaction but it seems unfortunate that the Israeli Government has failed to learn the lessons of other countries and has reacted with an even more draconian law than exists even in Germany.

‘The fact that one American Staffordshire Terrier (Am Staff) killed this child does not mean that every Am Staff, let alone every Am Staff, Pitbull, Bull Terrier, Rottweiler, etc. is a danger to the public. The logic is surely the same as saying that because some fathers abuse their children then we should ban all fathers from being alone with kids - or that because some Palestinians chose to be suicide bombers that every Arab is a killer. However strongly one feels about an issue, surely some logic has to fit into the decisions made by government.

Danger

‘There are an estimated 250,000 Staffordshire Bull Terriers in England. Do you not think that if they were a danger to the public that the UK Government would long ago have banned them? In fact, several British members of Parliament own Staffordshire Bull Terriers. They are a pet and show breed that may be descended from dogs originally bred for fighting, but which have not been used in that so-called ‘sport’ for many, many generations.
‘The SBT is the seventh most popular breed of dog in England.

‘The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is actually recommended after research, by Southampton University as one of the top 10 breeds to own alongside children.
‘These are facts!

‘So why is the Staffordshire Bull Terrier on a list of breeds to be banned in Israel? It can only be because the Israeli Government is not looking at facts but merely trying to stay popular in the hysteria following a tragic attack. They don't understand dogs or dog owners and they cannot be bothered to look into the problem properly.

‘The real problem with this is that it actually perpetuates the myth that the only danger to the public in general and to children in particular comes from these 8 breeds. This is simply not true. Every single scientific study from all over the World shows that breed is almost insignificant. The issues are bad owners, un-neutered dogs and dogs mistreated and/or trained for fighting.

‘As long as the Israeli Government reacts blindly to the death of Avivit Ganon by merely banning dogs that look like the Am Staff who killed her or who have a similar sounding name, then no child in Israel will be protected. The bad owners will merely get a different dog, mistreat that, and IT will then kill the next child.

‘For goodness sake, surely the Israeli public deserve better protection than merely making the same mistakes as Germany (of all countries!). Ask France - their Government has specifically stated that the SBT is NOT a dangerous dog. In fact no country except Germany has said that and even they have presented no evidence at all. Indeed the EEC is looking into the legality of their decision.

‘I am not asking for dangerous dogs to be tolerated. I just think that my own cousin's children, living in Israel, deserve a better law, thought out properly, and designed to actually protect them from dangerous owners.