BREED SPECIFIC Legislation continues to spread throughout the world, now claiming the Middle East as an area where this unjust system of dog control is enforced.
Israel’s Canine Registration Law came into effect this week, and, according to one triumphalist news story in Haaretz, "…Israel joined a group of 20 states, mainly in the West, that have passed strict laws against having dangerous dogs in the public domain… Regretfully it took a tragedy six months ago (four-year-old Avivit Ganon died after being bitten by the family's Amstaff) to be the catalyst for the law's passage."
The law's regulations, based largely (again) on the UK’s discredited DDA, determine for the first time a list of breeds that may not be imported and those already in the country must be neutered by the end of the year. The Ministry of Agriculture has said that it expects that breeds such as the Rottweiler, the Amstaff and the Pit Bull will "vanish from the Israeli landscape". Included amongst the ‘dangerous’ breeds is the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Representations from responsible dog owners, experts and anti-BSL campaigners to the Israeli Government fell on deaf ears and a whole raft of breeds and crossbreeds were included on a list of ‘dangerous’ breeds.
The regulations limit the age of an individual who can walk a dog defined as ‘dangerous’ - someone 16 or older, and require any such dog to be walked with a muzzle and leash. However, one proposed regulation will not be implemented - the obligation to insure any dog defined as dangerous. This measure is customary in some Western countries but was not included in the new law.
The law calls for the establishment of a national registration scheme for all breeds, and not only those defined as ‘dangerous’.
Over the next few years, all dogs will be compulsorily microchipped when they attend a veterinarian to receive an inoculation or other treatment. Responsibility for this procedure will fall on the veterinarians of the local authorities.
According to Haaretz, identification of a ‘dangerous’ dog is easy and a virtual ‘sus’ law will come into effect, with vets expected to be informants: "Implementation of the law in a manner that would ensure that it does not become a dead letter in the legal code, is highly dependent upon the veterinarians, local authority inspectors and police. The law makes it possible to easily define and locate a ‘dangerous’ breed, but on the basis of the law, the veterinarians are expected to warn the citizens and also report to the Ministry of Agriculture about mixed breeds that have the same characteristics as those of dangerous breeds.
"For example, a dog that is a mix of Rottweiler and German Shepherd. The neighbourhood vet is supposed to assess if the dog's characteristics answer to the definition of a dangerous dog, and explain to the client that the dog must be neutered.
Will veterinarians report clients that own such dogs and who refuse to have them neutered to the Ministry of Agriculture? The ministry is threatening that if a dog bites a person and it develops that a certain veterinarian had seen it and failed to report it as a dangerous dog - measures will be taken against the veterinarian. It is doubtful that this threat would be sufficiently persuasive to veterinarians who could lose clients as a result of said report."
British anti-BSL campaigner Dave Levy 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.