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Dublin City Council introduce breed ban

DOG OWNERS in Dublin were taken aback last week when the City Council announced that it had introduced a ban on eleven breeds of dog from properties including houses, flats and estates, with immediate effect.

The breeds are: English Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Doberman, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Japanese Akita, Bull Mastiff, Japanese Tosa and Bandog. Crossbreeds of these dogs or crosses of these dogs with any other breed are also banned.

The ban was announced on Thursday, July 5th, but owners were stunned when the Council stated that the ban was backdated to July 1st, meaning that it was now in effect, without public consultation of any kind.

The council says that it has taken the step to remove all ‘dangerous breeds’ due to the increasing numbers of complaints from tenants and because of the legal implications associated with an attack taking place on one of its properties.

The ban initially applies to council housing and all public areas within council estates, although in a show of total arrogance, the council plans to amend its bylaws to include public parks in the ban. This would mean that anyone owning a so-called ‘dangerous dog’ could not walk it in a public park, even if they lived in private housing, which must surely rank as an assault in civil liberties.

National aspirations

The City council has also written to John Gormley, the Minister for the Environment asking him to ban all breeds of fighting dogs nationally. The 11 breeds are not banned for general ownership in Ireland but must be muzzled, kept on a special leash and be under the control of a person over 16 years old.

Executive manager of the council's housing department Michael O'Neill said tenants would be asked to remove any banned dogs but if they failed to comply the council would take them away. ‘Our information on these dogs is that that they can be very aggressive and while they might be family pets, that has to come secondary and would be no defence to us if a child or other vulnerable person was attacked on our property.’

Labour councillor Kevin Humphreys said he understood council tenants may feel discriminated against, but he hoped that this was just the first step to banning these breeds nationally.
OUR DOGS asked Mr Humphreys to clarify his comments and asked him whether he felt that it was the place of local councillors to try to influence the policies of national Government, but at the time of going to press, the councillor had not responded.

Dublin City Council’s Press Office simply issued a statement on Monday of this week re-iterating the breeds to be banned. The brief statement continued: ‘When tenants sign their tenancy agreement (from now on) it will state that the above list of dogs are banned. Those tenants who are currently living in Council property can be brought under this condition by virtue of the fact that the tenancy agreement which they signed, states that Dublin City Council has an obligation to ensure that their tenants live in a safe environment.

‘The following information was supplied by the Dog Wardens working within Dublin City Council. Since January 2007 there have been ten reported dog attacks on people, three of which were on children the youngest being three years of age. The dogs involved in these attacks were Bull Mastiff, Pit Bull Terriers, Japanese Akita, Rothweilers and German Shepherds. In January alone seventeen Pit Bull Terriers were surrendered by their owners (all of these dogs were destroyed.’
The Council have stated that owners will be given the opportunity to rehouse the dogs but if alternative accommodation cannot be found for them they will be destroyed. As to how the law will actually e enforced is unclear – the Council have said that Dog wardens will seize dogs from owners’ properties, but there are only three dog wardens to cover the whole city and many dog owners are likely to resist such seizures very firmly.

Dublin vets have also made it clear that they will not euthanise any healthy dog that the Council seizes under the draconian measure.

The Irish Government’s Environment Minister John Gormley has refused to become involved in the issue of the banning the breeds in Dublin.

The IKC

The Irish Kennel Club reacted to the ban by convening a special meeting of its General Purposes Committee on Monday night to discuss a suitable response and plan of action.

Susan Kealey, P.R.O. for the IKC told us: ‘The Dublin City Council’s decision to ban eleven breeds of dogs from all Dublin City Council properties, as announced in The Irish Times on 7th July 2007, was received with dismay by the Irish Kennel Club. The IKC thinks it is a poorly thought out response to a genuine problem. Adequate laws and bye laws are already in place to deal with problems caused by dogs that are not properly cared for and are let roam out of control.
Attempting to ban these breeds is a complete over reaction. Breed specific legislation and breed bans are not effective solutions to the problem of dog attacks.

‘We would be in favour of having the current Rules rigidly enforced, and compulsory micro-chipping and licensing to ensure that owners must take responsibility.

‘A meeting of representatives from the Affiliated Clubs of the relevant breeds and the members of The General Purposes Committee of the IKC has been arranged on Thursday 12th July, to discuss the ban and a further statement will be issued following that meeting.’

Dublin dog owner, Sean Hunt told OUR DOGS: ‘ Having myself just been made aware of the enforced rule now in effect throughout Dublin I am absolutely furious, Firstly, being a responsible dog owner myself I like to be kept informed about rules and laws that could effect me. Secondly, I’ve also read stories that Dublin City Council will also try and ban the so called ‘dangerous dogs’ in Ireland from all public streets or places whether or not under correct supervision and muzzled. I’m totally appalled by this.’

And they said...

Quotes from organisations opposing the Dublin breed ban

ALLIANCE FOR ANIMAL RIGHTS Dangerous Proposition Or Dangerous Dogs? AFAR Press Officer Bernie Wright commented:

‘Surely a pet dog cannot be taken from someone purely because he is a certain breed, especially if he is under proper control and has not done anything wrong? If Dublin City Council can get away with this unfair proposition then what will come next? This situation must constitute discrimination at the very least.

‘The very idea that DCC are responsible for dogs who bite people on council property is wrong surely? It was my understanding that owners are responsible for the actions of their pets. If a person falls off a ladder in a Council house are the Council responsible for that too? Besides being indiscriminate, this proposition is unenforceable. Where will the dogs be taken to and by whom? Who will rehome them??? How long will they be kept and where?

‘It’s obvious that the Authorities are afraid of the people that have the real dangerous dogs and are using this blanket ban to catch those few rather than confronting them.

‘The main problem here is indeed the lawless few who treat dogs badly and cruelly and as a result have totally stressed and vicious animals. The Gardai should be able to impose the ban on dog-fighting. This is the problem, the legislation is not being enforced and instead a blanket ban is being used, it is overkill. Innocent dogs will suffer and lose their lives if this DCC policy is enforced. The councils are afraid to deal with nasty animal abusers who are tenants and as a result of this all dogs of a declared breed and their carers will suffer. What about the elderly, whose dogs are their sole companions?

‘The council should deal with the people that they are afraid of. These people will have fighting dogs whether a ban is brought in or not. Agreed many of these unfortunate dogs would be far better dead and away from these abusers. But not all dogs of the declared breeds should be discriminated against.'

Dogs Trust Statement –

Dogs Trust, the dog welfare charity is very concerned by recent reports suggesting that Dublin City Council is to ban eleven breeds from its properties. The ban on keeping ‘dangerous breeds’ which includes German Shepherds and Rottweilers may even extend to council owned greenspace. This will affect dogs that have been with families for many years and have never posed any threat as well as those that have been newly homed. Dogs will be left to fend for themselves, find new homes elsewhere or worse they may even be destroyed. Dogs Trust urges the public not to punish breeds for the actions of irresponsible owners.

Dogs Trust Chief Executive, Clarissa Baldwin, said: ‘This new policy will have an impact on the numbers of stray and abandoned dogs in the city. It is an abhorrent and unnecessary action by the City Council and will only add to the extremely high destruction figures in Ireland. It is not an inherent behavioural trait for a dog to attack unless they are provoked or have been trained to do so. Hence punishing specific breeds for an irresponsible minority is extremely unfair. All dogs should be treated with respect and many of these condemned breeds make fantastic family pets.’

Deed Not Breed

News of the proposed ban by Dublin City Council of 11 breeds of dogs from all Council properties is yet another example of politicians reacting with undue haste, and not enough thought.

Breed specific legislation and/or breed bans do not deal with problems of aggressive dogs. Breed specific bans work on the assumption that all dogs of a particular breed or breed type are dangerous. This is not based on any scientific fact and is a fundamentally flawed view.

Banning specified breeds makes politicians feel like they are doing something, but all they will achieve is the death or abandonment of thousands of family pets.

Those criminals and bad owners who raise dogs to be aggressive should be targeted. Instead the City council has engaged in the worst kind of stereotyping of the working class of Dublin by banning family pets of the council tenants.

Deed Not Breed fully support the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) in their opposition to this insane bye-law. This kind of regulation should fill UK dog owners with dread. If these rules applied in the UK hundreds of thousands of family pets would be effectively outlawed. Owners of breeds that are winners at Crufts & police and armed forces dogs would be categorised as dangerous and heavily restricted. Of the eleven breeds listed 8 are UK Kennel Club approved show breeds and one (the Staffordshire Bull Terrier) is highly recommended as a family pet!

Clearly Dublin City Council have not fully engaged their brains in this matter – a little consultation with experts would have shown them that this is ridiculous and will only result in thousands of dogs dying!