IN A surprise move, the Norwegian Government voted last week to ban American Staffordshire Terriers and Wolf Hybrids, after only recently giving an undertaking not to enact breed specific laws without going through various legal safeguards and procedures.
After two votes, where the Justice Committee and Stortinget (Parliament) voted down a proposal to ban the Amstaff, somehow they used a different procedure to come up with a third vote. The result was 60 votes in favour of the proposal to ban the Amstaff, and 39 was against the proposal. A similar margin voted to ban Wolf Hybrids.
The move has outraged Amstaff owners and has caused protests to be lodged by anti-BSL campaigners.
Just two weeks ago, the Norwegian Government stated that there would be no banning of any breed in the actual law, nor would any breeds 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 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 were agreed that the Staffordshire Bull Terrier should not be banned. However, one of the opposition parties - the Sosialistisk Venstreparti proposed that the Parliament should give the Justice Department directions to ban the American Staffordshire Terrier.
The Government MPs and the Sosialistisk Venstrepartis MPs voted for this measure and secured a majority to ban the Amstaff will be banned.
It now becomes illegal to breed or import Amstaffs. However, owners of existing Amstaffs will be able to keep their dogs until they die of old age.