10/24/23 Dog spaying and socialisation prevent attacks

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Animal Friends Croatia reacts to recent dog attack cases and advocates preventative legislation.

Relevant ministry shares responsibility for recent attacks as it has delayed adopting a new Dangerous Dog Ordinance for over 15 years.

Following recent dog bites and attacks on humans, Animal Friends Croatia reiterates the necessity for preventative measures that should be prescribed in the new Dangerous Dog Ordinance. “Spaying, training and a socialization test for certain strong breeds and their crossbreeds from uncontrolled breeding would protect both humans and dogs. These simple measures would prevent dog bites, injuries and death of humans and dogs, but also the euthanasia of dogs behind the attacks and casualties,” explained Animal Friends Croatia.

They emphasized there is no such thing as dangerous dogs, however, there are humans who can make them dangerous: “The problem inevitably lies in negligent dog carers, whether it is due to non-compliance with dog micro-chipping, spaying or uncontrolled breeding, irresponsible animal procurement or abandonment, keeping them in unfitting conditions or omission to train and socialize the dog. Part of the blame for each attack lies on the relevant Ministry which has not adopted new regulation since 2008!”

Indeed, according to the current Dangerous Dogs Ordinance, 15 years old no less, dangerous dogs are those dogs that attack a human for no apparent reason and cause severe injury or death. This includes dogs that attacked other dogs, causing severe injury, as well as dogs bred for dog fights or participating in organized fights with other dogs. Dangerous breeds also include terriers such as bull terriers and their crossbreeds that do not come from controlled breeding.

However, in 2021, the Ministry of Agriculture launched a public debate on the proposal of the new Ordinance which has not come into effect although two full years have passed since! Animal Friends Croatia, having forwarded their suggestions in the debate, put positive emphasis on including preventative measures in the proposed Ordinance: “Responsibilities by owners of certain dog breeds and their crossbreeds from uncontrolled breeding are regulated in more detail to prevent uncontrolled reproduction of larger breeds and dog fights. The ordinance stipulates that a dog that attacks a human or another dog for no apparent reason must undergo training, spaying, and a socialization test, and it must be euthanized only if the result of the attack is the death of a human.”

The group states that in other European countries, apart from dogs that have already attacked humans or other dogs, specific breeds and their crossbreeds are identified with special regulations applying to them. The European legislation largely proclaims such breeds dangerous because they are the most frequent perpetrators, including attacks causing death. For example, Presa Canario which caused severe injuries in an attack a few days ago in Croatia, is illegal in Australia and New Zealand as it is considered overly aggressive. For the same reason, some breeds are banned by some countries, such as Rottweilers in Poland, Portugal, Romania and Ireland, Dogo Argentino in Portugal, Australia, etc., American Bulldog in Denmark and Singapore, Fila Brasilieiro in the UK and Norway, Caucasian Shepherd Dog even in Georgia where it originates from, Tibetan Mastiff in some Chinese provinces…

Animal Friends Croatia believes that, unlike these countries, Croatia should not ban or stigmatize certain dog breeds: “We expect the relevant ministry to finally adopt a new Dangerous Dog Ordinance and stipulate preventative measures for dog breeds and their crossbreeds from uncontrolled breeding, which due to the strength of their bite, their size, frequency of attacks or genetic predisposition can endanger humans or other breeds. Only illegal dog breeders would protest such measures because spaying large breeds prevents unwanted litters from uncontrolled breeding which can become dangerous in the hands of an irresponsible carer, and which are hard to rehome if placed in a shelter. Responsible procurement and keeping of such dogs protect the safety not only of humans but also of the breed itself.”

The group also appeal to the citizens to act responsibly and not to allow dogs to move around public spaces uncontrollably and without supervision to avoid the safety and health risk for humans and other animals. They remind owners of dogs from the dangerous dog category as stipulated by the Ordinance, which walking such dogs in public spaces mandates a muzzle for the animal that is to be kept on a leash.

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