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Position statements

The board's position on breed specific legislation, feral cat management and training

Breed specific legislation

The Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 (the Act) has the following objects:

  • To encourage responsible dog and cat ownership;
  • To reduce public and environmental nuisance caused by dogs and cats; and
  • To promote the effective management of dogs and cats.

The Act establishes the Dog and Cat Management Board which furthers the objects of the Act by planning, promoting and advising about the effective management of dogs and cats, and by overseeing the administration and enforcement of the Act.

As part of its functions, the board monitors the operation of the Act and conducts research on aspects of the legal framework.

Breed specific legislation for dogs prohibits or places restrictions on particular breeds or types of dogs; ranging from complete bans on possession, to restrictions and conditions on ownership. It has been introduced in some jurisdictions to reduce the risk of dog attack, based on the assumption that some breeds of dogs are inherently more aggressive and likely to bite or attack.

The board does not support breed specific legislation as a strategy to reduce dog related incidents. The board’s position, based on Australian and international research, is that breed specific legislation is ineffective and does not address the complex causes of dog attack.

The board’s position supports:

  • legislative and operational measures to control dogs that exhibit aggressive behaviour on an individual basis;
  • ongoing efforts to ensure that all dog owners are educated about how to minimise the risk of aggressive dog behaviour (including via socialisation, training, desexing, veterinary care);
  • education about safe behaviour around dogs, including the notion that ‘any dog can bite’ in certain circumstances.

References
BMJ Paediatrics – pet dog bites in children, June 2020
RSPCA Information paper – preventing dog attacks in the community, 2014
RSPCA Position paper A1 – Control of dangerous and menacing dogs, 2015
AVA breed specific legislation – policy, December 2014
AVSAB – breed specific legislation position statement, 2014

Dog Training

The Dog and Cat Management Board believes a commitment to positive reinforcement training is an aspect of being a responsible dog owner. The board does not condone training methods that cause a dog to feel pain, fear, aggression or anxiety.

Feral cat management

The Dog and Cat Management Board recognises the importance of managing feral cats to reduce the threat they pose to native wildlife and to minimise the number of homeless cats which suffer starvation, disease and injury living in the wild. The board supports the management of feral cat colonies in remote areas, provided it is done in the most humane manner practicable and that the methods used do not pose risks to the health and safety of domestic cats or other species.

Responsible cat ownership is central to reducing the impact domestic cats have on wildlife and ensuring pets do not contribute to the feral cat population. Any cat may transition from being a domestic pet to a stray cat to a feral cat.

The board encourages cat owners to:

  • Desex their pets; removing the chance of breeding with unowned and semi-owned cats, and having unwanted litters which contribute to the population of unowned and feral cats.
  • Microchip and identify their pet with a collar and tag; increasing the likelihood that a lost cat will be returned to its owner.
  • Keep them confined to your property, a cat enclosure or indoors; keeping them safe, minimising the threat domestic pets pose to native wildlife through their hunting behaviour, and reducing the risk they’ll become lost and enter the feral cat population.