A REFRESHING and unexpected piece of news concerning Norways plans for new canine legislation was announced late last week. In a surprise move, there will be NO Breed Specific legislation, as the Government have accepted or at least been persuaded by Opposition MPs - that BSL does not work. The Parliamentary debate and speeches were detailed and lengthy, and took much more time than expected.
There will be no banning of any breed in the actual law, nor any breeds will be specified or listed as potentially dangerous. However, the Department of Justice will be given the option to any ban breeds they may later think to be dangerous. They can do this by regulations/directions acclaimed by the King, which means that Parliament itself will not be involved in instigating and legislating for breed bans, although strict criteria must be met.
The breed-specific law was proposed by the minority Government, which gave way to suggestions and amendments from the Opposition parties. Therefore it was agreed that if the Department of Justice wish to ban a breed - the proposal must at least be made public and they must have a well-documented dog attack case to do so. Other possibilities than banning must be considered first. These is directions have been made clear to the Department of Justice by Parliament, so no breed ban can be imposed as a knee jerk reaction to media calls for BSL.
Initially, there were two breeds proposed for banning in the Governments draft legislation; the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier. Even so, the situation in Norway is somewhat unpredictable. The Opposition parties are agreed that the Staffordshire Bull Terrier should not be banned. However, one of the opposition parties - the Sosialistisk Venstreparti has now proposed that the Parliament should give the Justice Department directions to ban the American Staffordshire Terrier.
If the Government MPs and the Sosialistisk Venstrepartis MPs vote for this measure they would have a majority and the Amstaff will be banned. However, the matter is likely to be a Free Vote, in which case a number of each partys MPs may vote against such a motion and thus defeat it.
If such a ban on Amstaffs was enacted, it would become illegal to breed or import
Amstaffs. However, owners of existing Amstaffs will be able to keep their dogs until they die of old age.
Norwegian Bull terrier owner and anti-BSL campaigner Espen Thygesen told OUR DOGS: "This is the news so far, we Bull Terrier people are very happy that our breed was not included and we are very happy for our friends in the Staffies. However, we are for the Amstaff owners. We hope there will be an end to breed bans, but will stay on our toes to avoid bad press and unhappy incidents."
*Meanwhile, the BSL situation in other Scandinavian countries looks promising:
Sweden: The Ministry of agriculture has just finished their report on Breed Specific Legislation in Sweden, and their recommendation is that there is to be no breed ban in Sweden. According to them a dangerous dog shall be defined by the dogs action and not by its breed.
Check out the website at: www.regeringen.se
Denmark: The new dangerous dog ordinance was passed on May 13, and will go into effect the July 1st. The new ordinance is based on deed and not breed. The existing ban on the Tosa Inu and American Pit Bull Terrier still stands. However, it will be easier now to fight the breed ban in Denmark. The new ordinance also bans dog fighting.