Denmark’s new Dog Act banning 13 breeds goes into effect July 1, 2010.Â The following breeds are targeted though dogs said to be pit bull terriers and Tosas wereÂ banned in 1991:Â
American Staffordshire Terrier
Central Asian Ovtcharka
South Russian Ovtcharka
Tosa (banned in 1991)
Pit bull terrier (banned in 1991)
The new law provides that dogs of these breeds and crosses containing these breedsÂ are not allowed to be bred, purchased, sold, imported, exported or transferred in Denmark though there is a long phase in period for breeders, up to June 30, 2015.
Banned dogs in Denmark as of July 1, 2010 may stay during a phase in period but must be kept on a shortÂ lead of no more than 2 meters and wear a closed muzzle when off the owner’s property.
The burden is on the owners to prove upon request by the authorities that their dog is not one of the banned breeds or a mix. Â Â
The new law also provides for an "observation list" to be established by the Ministry of Justice. Breeds on the "observation list" areÂ potentially dangerous breeds. Thus far, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Rottweiler and Bull Mastiff have been placed on the observation list.
The Dog Act will be evaluated after 3 years.
Denmark is moving in the opposite direction from other European Union countries that have discovered breed discriminationÂ does not work to prevent or reduce dog bite incidents.
In a well known study researchers in the UK examined the frequency and severity of dog-bite injuries at a hospital accident and emergency department. The UK’s Dangerous Dog Act bans four breeds of dogs, the pit bull, Japanese tosa, dogo Argentino and fila Brasileiro, as well as mixes and dogs with the behavioral and physical characteristics of these breeds.Â Under that law the Secretary of State can also ban any dog bred for fighting or which is of a "type bred for" fighting.
Researchers looked at a three month period before the breed bans and found there were 99 bites, 3% of which were by pit bull types. Two years after the ban was implemented, there were 99 dog bites in a 3 month period, and 5% were by pit bull type dogs. The percentage of bites involving "dangerous" dogs increased from 6% to11% following passage of the Dangerous Dogs Act.
The study also determined that the Act did not result in any decline in dog bite incidents with 73.9% before and 73.1% after enactment of the law. ("Does the dangerous dogs act protect against animal attacks: a prospective study of mammalian bites in the accident and emergency department", 1996, Klaassen B, Buckley JR, Esmail A., Department of Accident and Emergency, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, UK)
In fact, the UK Dangerous Dogs Act was declared a failure in 2007 when it was found numbers of dog bites had risen 10% in a year and 50% since 1998-1999. According to the BBC, hospitalizations due to dog bites increased by 25% after ‘pit bulls’ were banned in Britain.
A recent Spanish study compared dog bites during a four year period, 1995-1999, before BSL, and those from 2000-2004, following BSL. Breeds listed as dangerous were responsible for only a small percentage of bites both before and after the legislation. ("Spanish dangerous animals act: Effect on the epidemiology of dog bites", 2007, BelÃ©n Rosado DVM, MSc,, Sylvia GarcÃa-Belenguer DVM, PhD, Marta LeÃ³n DVM, PhD and Jorge Palacio DVM, PhD, Animal Pathology Department, Faculty of Veterinary, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain; Merial Laboratorios, S.A., Tarragona, Barcelona, Spain)Â Â
Another study in Germany from 2000-2002 tested several hundred dogs belonging to several breeds including those banned or deemed dangerous according to BSL. 95% of the dogs, regardless of breed, reacted appropriately during testing. 5% displayed excessive aggressive behavior in inappropriate situations. These instances were associated with the dogs’ fear or inappropriate handling by the owner.
The study found no significant difference between breeds and no indication of dangerousness in specific breeds. The study found no justification for the BSL. (Is breed specific legislation justified? Stud of the results of the temperament test of Lower Saxony, 2000-2002, Esther Schalke, DVM, Stefanie A. Off, DVM, Esther Schalke, DVM, Amelie M von Gaertner, DVM, Hansjoachim Hackbarth, DVM, PhD, Angela Mittmann, DVM, PhD, FTA; Institute for Animal Welfare and Behavior, University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover, Hanover, Germany)
The resultsÂ were then compared to tests done on a control group of golden retrievers. Again, no significant difference was found among the breeds in displays of aggressive behavior. There was no scientific basis for BSL. (Is there a difference? Comparison of golden retrievers and dogs affected by breed specific legislation regarding aggressive behavior, 2002, Stefanie A. Off, DVM, Esther Schalke, DVM, Amelie M von Gaertner, DVM, Hansjoachim Hackbarth, DVM, PhD, Institute for Animal Welfare and Behavior, University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover, Hanover, Germany)
Basing its opinion on these studies, the Central Administration Court in Berlin, upheld a ruling that voided Lower Saxony’s ban on Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and Pit bull Terriers and regulation of Rottweilers and Dobermans.
In June, 2008, the Dutch Minister of Agriculture, Gerda Verburg, announced to the parliament that the 15 year old rule banning pit bulls in The Netherlands would be lifted. A rule banning rottweilers that was instituted in 2000 will also be lifted. The reason? The breed specificÂ legislation failed to reduce incidents of dog bites.
These laws known as RAD orÂ "Arrangement for Aggressive Animals" exempted registered, purebred dogs. RAD sought to eliminate non-registered dogs if their appearance was of the "pit bull type".
John Payne, thenÂ president of The Netherland’s Institute of Animal Control Officers, told the committee that then recommended elimination of the BSL, that an American pit bull terrier could be an "extremely good animal" depending on the owner.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Go to Animal Law Coalition’s BSL Watch and find out where state and local governments are considering breed discriminatory laws andÂ use our talking points and resources toÂ provide informationÂ andÂ support for the effort to stop the discrimination and killing based on myths about a dog’s breed or appearance.Â Â Â Â