ACT will not restrict pit bulls or other dog breeds when tightening laws
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ACT will not restrict pit bulls or other dog breeds when tightening laws

The ACT and the Northern Territory are the only jurisdictions in Australia to allow five dog breeds deemed dangerous by the federal government to be owned without restriction.

While all states require owners of Dogo Argentinos, Fila Brasileiros, Japanese Tosas, pit bulls and Presa Canarios to adhere to certain laws, the territories assess individual dogs on their behaviour and history.

An American pit bull. The Canberra Liberals will table dangerous dog legislation this week.

An American pit bull. The Canberra Liberals will table dangerous dog legislation this week.

In most states, the above breeds must be desexed, muzzled and leashed when in public and cannot be bred or sold.

A Victorian owner of a dog of a restricted breed could be banned from dog ownership for 10 years if their pet attacks or bites someone.

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RSPCA ACT sometimes accepts unwanted pit bull puppies from New South Wales, chief executive Tammy Ven Dange said, expressing her support for Canberra's pet laws.

The organisation does not support restricting breeds.

"The reality is, at the end of the day, it's about the owner and not about the dog," Ms Ven Dange said.

"It does not actually change the number of animals or dog attacks in a community by restricting certain breeds."

There is a renewed focus on Canberra's animal laws after a Watson woman was killed by her dog last week.

It was later revealed Domestic Animal Services had taken custody of the pit bull-type dog for several days earlier this year after it left a person in need of 42 stitches following an attack. The agency had visited the home on three occasions for dog-related issues.

The Canberra Liberals will this week table dangerous dog legislation. The government has ruled out restricting dog breeds ahead of the potential changes to animal ownership laws.

A Domestic Animal Services spokesman said last week: "It is widely recognised that breed-specific laws are ineffective.

"Any dog can be aggressive if not well managed and the focus is on ensuring that owners are responsible and manage their pets appropriately."

Peter Toscan, whose pomeranian Buzz was torn apart and killed by what were believed to be two bull Arabs and an American pit bull, called on Canberrans to get behind tougher dangerous dog laws.

"I'd just encourage people to stand up and be counted. We cannot continue to go down this path," he said.

"I certainly don't advocate euthanasing animals, it's a very unpleasant process for those decision-makers to make and also the people who have to carry that out, but hopefully with legislation being tightened there will be a discouragement for people to own dogs that have the propensity to do serious damage to people and other animals."

Current legislation says dogs declared dangerous in the ACT must be muzzled and wear an approved dangerous dog collar when in public.

Owners must have a special licence and prove they can meet particular conditions to ensure their dog no longer poses a risk.

"Domestic Animal Services conducts proactive patrols of dogs released under licence to ensure owners remain compliant with all conditions," a Transport Canberra and City Services spokesman said.

"Any breaches of conditions can result in the dogs being seized and the licence rescinded."

Emily Baker is a reporter for the Sunday Canberra Times. She previously reported on education for The Canberra Times.

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