ITALY LOOKS set to become the latest European country to yield to the relentless "quick fix knee jerk" refuge for governments by proposing to enact breed specific laws against a number of so-called "dangerous" dog breeds.
After a spate of attacks on joggers and children by alleged pitbulls, the Italian Government may make breeding, importing and even owning the breed illegal.
"In the face of the many aggressive attacks, we can't sit back and do nothing," Health Minister Girolama Sirchia told La Repubblica newspaper last week. "We have to decide breed by breed. For some, like Pitbulls and Rottweilers, we have to think about the possibility of banning the import, breeding and ownership of the animals,"
Seven dog attacks, ascribed to pitbulls over the previous five days have prompted calls for strict control of the dogs form the media. Two children were severely injured, and a woman jogger underwent 16 hours of emergency surgery. She is said to be in a critical condition.
An un-named Health Ministry spokesman said a proposal to regulate attack dogs will be put to parliament in September and would include a list of dangerous breeds.
The Washington Animal Foundations European branch is closely scrutinising any Italian proposals for BSL, whilst anti-BSL campaigners around the world have begun an e-mail campaign to Italian politicians, informing them that BSL does not work in reducing dog attacks.
American-born anti BSL campaigner Cathie Detmar, who lives in Germany commented: "Several years ago, 1998 or 1999, I believe, discussions of breed bans came up in the Italian parliament. But the next year there was a General Election and many breeders and clubs had protested the possibility of a breed ban. The politicians shelved the topic, mostly because of the upcoming election.
"I have been waiting to see how long it would take before this resurfaced...several years ago there were more breeds in question beside the Rottie and Pit Bull...I am sure the old list will pop up once again. Voices against a breed ban are strong in Italy and hopefully they will once again remind the politicians a ban is not the way to protect its citizens."
Detmar concludes with a wry observation from Germany where the most draconian anti-BSL policies have been enacted in recent years: "In Germany, we are an excellent example.
Pitbulls have been officially banned from being imported as of April 2001 and from breeding as of September 2001. My husband Rudi cannot relate how many times in the past few months, he has seen Pit Bull puppies in the city of Hannover. I would say the federal laws here are obviously working well!"