Since 1998, anyone who owns certain breeds of dogs in Ireland must meet special requirements that don't apply to owners of other breeds. Among the requirements are that these dogs must be walked on a short leash, muzzled in public and accompanied by someone 16 or older.
The breeds singled out in Ireland's Control of Dogs regulations include pit bulls, Japanese Akitas, German shepherds, Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers and Rhodesian ridgebacks.
However, a new study published in the Irish Veterinary Journal discovered that the regulations have actually done little to reduce dog bites in Ireland. The study found there were no significant differences between legislated and non-legislated dog breeds as far as the type of bites inflicted or the medical care required to treat them.
The study also found that non-legislated breeds were much more likely to bite with their owner present on their property or on business premises. These bites were also less likely to be reported to authorities than bites by legislated breeds.
Based on these findings, the researchers concluded there is no justification for targeting certain dog breeds as being more dangerous than others. Most animal welfare groups, including the RSPCA, ASPCA and Humane Society of the United States agree that breed-specific legislation like this unfairly punishes dogs based on their breed and therefore oppose it.
For these reasons, Ireland should remove its Control of Dogs regulations. Please sign and share this petition urging the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to do so.
Photo credit: Jennifer Aitkens/Flickr