A TOTAL of 169 ‘dangerous dogs’ were licensed in Waterford, County Kilkenney, Ireland last year including two American Pit Bull Terriers.
The vast majority of the so-called ‘dangerous’ animals were German Shepherds (65 in total) but there were also a sizeable amount of Staffordshire Bull Terriers (37) and Rottweilers (32).
Figures made available last week by the City Council also confirm there were 11 Japanese Akitas registered in 2006, eight English Bull Terriers and eight Doberman Pinschers. Meanwhile, there were only two American Pit Bull Terriers, three Rhodesian Ridgebacks, two Bulldogs and one Bull Mastiff.
These 169 animals locally represent just less than one-tenth of the 1,200 dogs licensed in the Waterford area last year, giving rise to the lie about so-called ‘dangerous’ breeds often listed in Breed Specific Legislation.
In the UK, under the terms of the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act, it is illegal for anyone to own an American Pit Bull Terrier or three other breeds including a Japanese Tosa, unless a special court exemption is granted for individual dogs to be placed on the Index of Exempted Breeds, following a DDA case or police recommendation.
But in Ireland, the laws are far less stringent. No dogs are banned and under the Control of Dogs Regulation 1998, although the breeds mentioned above are the subject of ‘strict controls’ in a watered-down form of BSL enacted by the city council.
These animals can only be in a public place if they’re held by a "sufficiently strong chain or leash" that doesn’t exceed one metre in length. The breeds are only allowed to be walked in public with a person aged 16 or over who is ‘capable of controlling them’. The dogs also have to be securely muzzled.
In Waterford, the city and county dog wardens are charged with policing the ‘Control of Dogs Act’.
In an interview with the Waterford News & Star newspaper in January, city dog warden Michael Lonergan said he believed certain breeds of dog, including American Pit Bulls, should be banned in Ireland because of the risk they pose to the public.
He said he dreaded the day he was called out to pick up a Pit Bull Terrier that had escaped from someone’s property and was wandering the streets.
"It would be effectively taking your life into your hands but what choice would you have," he said. "I firmly believe that animals like pit bulls shouldn’t be allowed in this country. They are fierce dogs and unlike other dogs that just attack each other, they will go for humans and attack with savagery."