Allow Greyhounds to play off the leash in Victoria
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*NOTE: If you are a resident of Victoria, Australia please sign the e-petition on the Parliament of Victoria web: https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/council/petitions/electronic-petitions/view-e-petitions/details/12/59
Pet Greyhound owners and greyhound advocates ask the Members of the Legislative Council of Victoria to table our e-petition in Parliament.
The Petition of pet greyhound owners and greyhound advocates draws to the attention of the Legislative Council that Victorian law specifies that greyhounds must be, when in public areas, ‘under the effective control of some person by means of a chain, cord or leash’. However, it has been documented and scientifically studied that:
- Greyhounds are not classified as 'restricted breeds' under Section 3 of the Domestic Animal Act 1994 (which identifies American Pit Bull Terriers, Japanese Tosas, dogo Argentinos, fila Brasileiros and Perro de Presa Canarios as restricted breeds) and are therefore not able to be summarily classified as 'restricted dogs' by authorised officers (under Section 98A), the only grounds for which are the belief that a dog is of a restricted breed as specified in Section 3.
- Not all greyhounds are retired racing dogs, nor have they all been trained to ‘chase’ a fake lure. There is no evidence whatsoever suggesting that an ex-racing dog can possibly mistake a small dog for a stuffed lure.
- Despite the public belief, greyhounds are not less able to learn various commands (sit, hold, come here and wait) than any other dog based on their breed, nor are they incapable of receiving effective recall training.
- Although greyhounds are known as one of the fastest dog breeds, and will outrun a human by foot, there is absolutely no logical argument supporting the idea that other breeds would be easier to catch by a human. The average speed of a running human is slower than the average speed of any dog breed, including labrador retrievers, huskies, chihuahuas, poodles, and Australian kelpies, among others.
- Research suggests that greyhounds are no more likely to prove 'dangerous' than any other breed of dog, and, according to Council reports, may in fact be less likely to attack other dogs and humans.
In any case, the Australian Veterinary Association is opposed to breed-based dog control measures as evidence shows that they do not, and cannot work. The decision of Councils to ban greyhounds from off-leash areas, and grouping them with dangerous and restricted dog breeds, could prove extremely damaging to the breed's profile with the public, and thus pose a threat to greyhound adoption rates. Considering the high numbers of abandoned dogs by the racing industry, the ban on off-leash greyhounds could have negative repercussions for the cause of greyhound welfare and adoption in Victoria.
The petitioners therefore request that the Legislative Council call on the Government to stop perpetuating the myth that greyhounds are by default 'dangerous', and allow pet greyhounds to enjoy the same privileges as other 'non-dangerous' and 'non-restricted' companion animals, whose only qualification for being able to enjoy those privileges is, apparently, their NOT being born greyhounds. The solution we propose is to allow every greyhound who has been assessed to wear a green collar, to be let off the leash in Victorian designated off leash areas, as every other non-restricted breed.
Victorian Law specifies that Greyhounds must be, when in public areas, ‘under the effective control of some person by means of a chain, cord or leash’. More over, it states that 'Greyhounds, dogs declared dangerous, and restricted breed dogs' are prohibited to be off leash in any public area, including designated off leash parks. This ban effectively classifies Greyhounds as either 'dangerous' or 'restricted breed' dogs, in that it specifies Greyhound as being subject to the same access restriction applied to dangerous and restricted breed dogs [1,2].
However, Greyhounds are:
- NOT classified as 'restricted breeds' under Section 3 of the Domestic Animal Act 1994 (which identifies Pit Bull Terriers, Japanese Tosas, Dogo Argentinos, Fila Brasilieros and Presa Canario) .
- Therefore not able to be summarily classified as 'restricted dogs' by authorised officers (Section 98A), the only grounds for which are the belief that a dog is of a restricted breed as specified in Section 3 .
- Not all greyhounds are retired racing dogs, nor have been all trained to ‘chase’ a lure.
- There is no evidence whatsoever suggesting that an ex-racing dog can possibly mistake a small dog for a lure.
- Despite the public belief, Greyhounds are not less able to learn various commands (sit, hold, come here, wait) than any other dog based on their breed, nor are they incapable of receiving effective recall training .
- Not less likely to be catched by a human by foot than any other dog based on their breed. Labrador retrievers are reported to run between 23 and 30 km/h, while the average human reportedly runs at 16 to 24 km/h. There is no logical argument supporting the idea that, because of their speed, other dogs will be easier to catch.
- Do not have endurance. Greyhounds can not run at full speed more than a couple hundred meters. After that, they get tired and stop, or keep jogging at human pace. Other breeds, however, can run for hours, various kilometers non stop.
Furthermore, it is inappropriate (let alone inaccurate) for the Council to effectively designate ALL Greyhounds, as a breed, as 'dangerous', considering that the stipulated criteria for making such a declaration are that a dog, in order to be declared dangerous, must be one that:
(a) if the dog has caused the death of or serious injury to a person or animal by biting or attacking that person or animal; or (b) if the dog is a menacing dog and its owner has received at least 2 infringement notices in respect of the offence in section 41E; or (c) if the dog has been declared a dangerous dog under a law of another State or a Territory of the Commonwealth that corresponds with this Division; or (c.a) if there has been a finding of guilt or the serving of an infringement notice (which has not been withdrawn and the penalty has been paid under the Infringements Act 2006) in respect of 2 or more offences under section29(5), (6), (7) or(8) in respect of the dog .
More importantly, research suggests that Greyhounds are no more likely to prove 'dangerous' than any other breed of dog, and, according to Council reports as cited below, may in fact be LESS likely to attack. The Council Reports of Dog Attacks in NSW (2011/2012), released by the Department of Premier and Cabinet, lists Greyhound as 74th of 115 on the list of purebred dogs responsible for attacks (in order of attack frequency) ; well behind other common breeds which are not excluded from the Victorian off leash designated areas (Labrador Retrievers, for instance).
A study from the University of Pennsylvania concludes that there exist “significant differences across breeds in displays of aggression toward unfamiliar dogs and several breeds stood out as being particularly aggressive: Akita, Boxer, Australian Cattle Dog, German Shepherd, Pit Bull, Chihuahua, Dachshund, English Springer Spaniel, Jack Russell Terrier and West Highland White Terrier (Figure 1)”, while “Greyhounds and Whippets were the least aggressive toward both humans and dogs” . Yet, none of the breeds listed as aggressive, with the exception of Pit Bull, are treated as restricted breeds by the Victorian Government.
(Figure 1: https://imgur.com/gallery/A6ExW Mean scores (95% confidence intervals) for dog-directed aggression for each of the 33 breeds of dog from the survey. Horizontal bars indicate the population means. 3791 dogs were included in the survey .)
An earlier study ranked Akita, Boxer, Chihuahua, Dachshund, German Shepherd, and West Highland White Terrier the sixth decile or higher for ‘aggression toward other dogs’ . The two studies agree with most of the listed breeds, and again, none of these breeds are considered restricted dogs in the State of Victoria.
Specifically, Greyhounds are not genetically prone to be aggressive. Wether a particular Greyhound is aggressive, it is already determined by the green collar assessment, there is no reason not to include the permision to be off-leash in general designated dog parks, like any other dog, even more, given that virtually any other breed is more aggressive toward other dogs than Greyhounds [5 – 10].
In regards of the “prey drive” that might be particular to certain breeds, it is clear that several other breeds have a strong prey drive, some of them are chasers (Lurchers, Saluki, Whippet), some of them are ‘grab-bite’ or ‘kill-bite’ (Terriers), while others are searchers and can go on for several kilometers (Beagles). However,despite the possible breed specific prey drive, it is understood that each dog has it’s own temperament, and can be thrusted if it has had the proper care and training. It would be absurd to generally ban Salukis, Beagles and Whippets for their prey drive. Just as it is absurd to ban all Greyhounds for the same belief, more so given that not all Greyhounds have been racers.
In any case, the Australian Veterinary Association is opposed to breed-based dog control measures as evidence shows that they do not, and cannot work. National veterinary associations of Britain, the United States and Canada, and major animal welfare organisations internationally also hold this view . Moreover, “it is clearly shown that not only characteristics of the dogs belonging to the group of victims and aggressors are found (including breed, gender, background, training, and housing), but also typical characteristics of the dog owners. Therefore, it is not enough to issue rigid laws for the prevention of potential and real aggression in dogs, based on a breed classification. These decisions are the result of a pragmatic process in politics, but will not lead to a valid solution of the present problem” .
As stated by the Victorian Government [12-14] Greyhounds, as any other dog and pet animal, need to be able to ‘express normal behaviour’ and be provided enough exercise and interaction with other animals of the same species. Preventing a Greyhound from running is clearly a direct attempt against this basic animal wellfare right.
The decision of Council to ban greyhounds from off-leash areas, and its grouping them with dangerous and restricted dog breeds, could prove extremely damaging to the breed's profile with the public, and thus pose a threat to greyhound adoption rates. Considering the high numbers of 'wastage' greyhounds that are abandoned by the racing industry each year, the decision of Council to senselessly reinforce the outdated and inaccurate perception of greyhounds as a 'dangerous' breed could have serious negative repercussions for the cause of greyhound welfare & adoption in Victoria.
Therefore we, pet greyhound owners and greyhound advocates, ask that you stop perpetuating the myth that greyhounds are by default 'dangerous', and allow pet greyhounds to enjoy the same privileges as other 'non-dangerous' and 'non-restricted' companion animals - whose only qualification for being able to enjoy those privileges is, apparently, their NOT being born greyhounds.
The solution we propose is to allow every Greyhound who has been assessed to wear a green collar to be let off the leash in Victorian designated off leash areas, as every other non-restricted breed. The green collar assessment can easily include an evaluation of a Greyhound's behaviour around small dogs.
 Domestic Animal Act 1994, Authorised Version incorporating amendments as at 1 September 2012 : http://www.legislation.vic.gov.au/Domino/Web_Notes/LDMS/LTObject_Store/LTObjSt7.nsf/DDE300B846EED9C7CA257616000A3571/1CA2B9A2AFD8349ECA257A6800031762/$FILE/94-81aa056%20authorised.pdf
 Legal requirements for owners of greyhounds in Victoria, http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/pets/dogs/greyhounds
 Myths about Greyhounds debunked, photographic evidence, http://greyhoundscansit.com/greyhound-topics/greyhound-myths-2/
 http://www.dlg.nsw.gov.au/dlg/dlghome/documents/Information/Council Reports of Dog Attacks in NSW 2011-12.pdf
 Deborah L. Duffy, Yuying Hsu, James A. Serpell, Breed differences in canine aggression, In Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Volume 114, Issues 3–4, 2008, Pages 441-460, ISSN 0168-1591, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2008.04.006 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168159108001147
 B.L. Hart, L.A. Hart, The Perfect Puppy: How to Choose Your Dog by its Behavior W.H. Freeman and Company, New York (1988) pp. 1–182
 A. Roll, J. Unshelm, Aggressive conflicts amongst dogs and factors affecting them
Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci., 52 (1997), pp. 229-242
 Greyhounds one of the 10 least aggressive dog breeds, https://www.cuteness.com/article/10-least-aggressive-dogs
 Greyhounds among the 5 least aggressive breeds: https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-least-aggressive-dog-breed/answer/Vladim-Ilich?srid=zo9f
 Third least aggressive just after Labrador and Golden Retriever, https://animals.onehowto.com/article/list-of-the-least-aggressive-dog-breeds-4170.html#anchor_3
 Dangerous dogs – a sensible solution, The Australian Veterinary Association Ltd, http://www.ava.com.au/sites/default/files/AVA_website/pdfs/Dangerous dogs - a sensible solution FINAL.pdf
 Dog’s wellfare, http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/pets/dogs/your-dogs-welfare-needs
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