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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 13 November 2007) . . Page.. 3303 ..


These figures showed that the breeds not normally regarded as dangerous were ranked in the top 10. The most attacks originated from german shepherds—ranked No 1—followed by Australian cattle dogs at No 2 and rottweilers at No 3. These were followed by dog breeds commonly described as dangerous; for example, bull terriers and staffies. They were ranked fourth. American pit bull terriers were fifth, bull mastiffs sixth and bull terriers seventh. In addition, there were 20 types of cross-breed dogs involved in the attacks. It could be expected that cross-breed types represented in the statistics for New South Wales in 2004-05 would be by no means exhaustive of the cross-breed types possible.

There were 873 reported attacks involving pure-bred or cross-breed dogs in 2004-05 in New South Wales. By contrast, the ACT’s deed not breed approach recognises that any breed or cross-breed of dog may be potentially dangerous given poor socialisation, training or treatment of individual animals by their owners—or, indeed, membership of the Liberal Party. Therefore, by placing the emphasis on promoting responsible dog ownership and only potentially declaring dogs dangerous based on their behaviour, which may be due as much to the dog’s environment or the treatment it gets from its owner, the ACT government’s alternative deed not breed policy provides an incentive for an improved and higher standard of dog ownership and responsibility.

We believe that it is not the breed that is the issue; it is those people who own and are supposedly taking care of the dog who are responsible, and those are the people we will hold to account for dangerous activity. Indeed, if we go back to the analogy Mr Pratt made of a dog escaping from his house through a hole in his fence, taking off up Isaac Ridge and taking a kangaroo out—it is that individual dog owner that we will hold to account for the activity of that dog, in addition, of course, to probably then destroying the dog. But just stopping people having a dangerous breed will not stop that. The government will not be supporting the amendment.

MR PRATT (Brindabella) (5.57): This is a serious issue and I do not think that Dr Foskey and the minister have quite understood the gravity of it. I take the point that all dogs are different and that certainly some dogs identified as belonging to the more notorious dangerous breeds can be somewhat tamed and can be quite reliable, and we know, of course, that other dogs can have perhaps a problem and become somewhat vicious. However, in the interests of not wanting to offend dog owners, good governance does not mean that you play Russian roulette when it comes to safety.

Again I want to point this out, in response to the very disappointing comments made by Dr Foskey and by the minister, which are clearly much more of a libertarian approach than a duty of care approach: how can you both say that if I, Steve Pratt, keep a dingo cross in my backyard, this does not present a serious risk to the three, four and five-year-old children who predominantly reside in my street? A large group of young children live in my street. Why should I not be required to specially register that dog or perhaps an Argentine fighting dog or one of the other identified dogs? Why should I not be required to specially register that dog and to ensure that my backyard does not allow that dog to escape out of my yard or that my yard does not unnecessarily lead three, four and five-year-old children from my neighbouring


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