02/06/24 Tragedy in Zadar is a Wake-Up Call for Urgent Changes to Dangerous Dogs Regulations!

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Animal Friends Croatia advocates for preventive legal measures to reduce dog attacks: castration and socialization

- Due to fatal cases, the United Kingdom has banned American XL bullies; it's not the dogs' fault, but irresponsible people

The recent tragedy in Zadar, where an elderly woman was fatally mauled by an American Staffordshire terrier, will permanently mark the lives of both the dog and the family members of the unfortunate woman. It is disheartening, say Animal Friends, that this dreadful accident could likely have been avoided had the new Dangerous Dogs Regulations come into force. Although the public discussion on it ended in 2021, it did not progress further afterward. The responsible Ministry of Agriculture, which has not issued new regulations since 2008 despite the increasing number of dog bites and attacks, should be questioned about why this is the case. This indicates an urgent need to change the current regulations for the well-being of both people and dogs.

Compulsory castration and socialization, which involves training and socialization tests, are basic preventive measures that the new Dangerous Dogs Regulations should prescribe for certain powerful breeds and their crossbreeds from uncontrolled breeding. These simple measures, which help dogs, would prevent dog bites, injuries, and deaths of both humans and dogs, as well as the euthanasia of dogs that have caused attacks and fatalities," said Animal Friends Croatia.

They explain that these preventive measures would apply to dogs that, due to their genetic predispositions, frequency of attacks, size, and bite strength, unlike smaller dogs, can cause serious injuries or kill a human or another dog: "In most of European legislation, these breeds are declared dangerous. We believe that there are no dangerous dogs, but there are people who can make them so. Castration of large breeds prevents the emergence of unwanted litter from uncontrolled breeding, which in the hands of an irresponsible person can become dangerous. If they end up in a shelter, they are practically unadoptable. Responsible acquisition and ownership of such breeds protect people and dogs."

After previously banning breeds such as the American Pit Bull Terrier, Tosa, Dogo Argentino, and Fila Brasileiro, as of December 31, 2023, in England and Wales, it is illegal to breed, sell, give away, abandon, or breed American XL bullies. As of February 1, 2024, owning dogs of this breed is also prohibited unless their caregivers have registered them. Registered dogs must be castrated and microchipped and must wear muzzles in public and must be on a leash at all times. These measures were introduced because the number of recorded attacks by this breed increased in previous years, reaching almost 22,000 in 2022, resulting in seven fatalities in attacks by XL bullies last year and the first victim this year last Saturday. Scotland and Northern Ireland have also announced imminent bans on this breed.

Other European countries apply special regulations for certain breeds and their crossbreeds, which are often listed as breeds with a high number of attacks, including fatal ones. For example, the Presa Canario breed is illegal in Australia and New Zealand because it is considered very aggressive. Due to the same reasons, the legislation of some countries prohibits certain breeds - Rottweilers in Poland, Portugal, Romania, and Ireland, Argentine Dogo in Portugal, Australia, etc., American Bulldog in Denmark and Singapore, Fila Brasileiro in the United Kingdom and Norway, Caucasian Shepherd even in Georgia, its country of origin, Tibetan Mastiff in some Chinese provinces...

Therefore, Animal Friends emphasizes the importance of prevention: "It is common for people to acquire dogs of powerful breeds for the wrong reasons. This results in attacks on humans and other dogs or their abuse by individuals from the criminal milieu for dog fighting. Castrated dogs are not used for fighting, so minimal preventive measures such as castration and socialization protect dogs from the possibility of becoming dangerous in the hands of irresponsible individuals."

The Association calls on the Ministry of Agriculture to promptly issue new Dangerous Dogs Regulations to prevent dog attacks on humans and other animals, tragic fatalities, as well as dog fighting. They also urge citizens to behave responsibly and not allow dogs to move around public areas uncontrolled and unsupervised to ensure the safety of people and animals. Dog caregivers categorized as owning dangerous dogs under the Dangerous Dogs Regulations are reminded that taking such a dog to public areas is only allowed with a muzzle and on a leash.

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