Death-row dog released after 15 months – BSL fails again


The Daily Dog wrote earlier this week on the madness of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL), which is being used by Councils Australia-wide as a blunt instrument against owners of large dog breeds – especially bulldog-type breeds. Well, we’re pleased to report a rare win against BSL by the determined owners of “Rocket”, the Victorian Staffy X.

Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) has once again failed in Victoria
BSL Fail – for now

Rocket had been seized over 15 months ago by Cardinia Shire Council, and deemed to be a member of a “declared” breed – all because some Council Officer said so. As is always the case, the Council backed their Officer to the hilt, forcing Rocket’s owners to spend a small fortune on legal fees, fighting all the way to the Victorian Supreme Court. On Wednesday the Court released it’s verdict, ordering Rocket to be handed back to his relieved owners, the Kalamaras family.

The Council is now calling for changes to Victorian BSL legislation (of course), with the Victorian Premier weighing in with an ominous comment on how the law needs to be changed to “reverse the onus of proof” in such cases. What this means is dog owners will be “guilty until proven innocent” if such amendments come to pass. Should this happen and you’re walking your Staffy X (like “Rocket” for example) in Victoria and a dog-hating,latte-drinking leftie in a Koala suit** starts screaming “Pit Bull! Pit Bull!”, your dog can be seized and destroyed unless you, the dog owner, can prove the dog is not a member of a “restricted breed”. If you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars available to fight for your dog’s life in Court, your dog is as good as dead – charming, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter if your dog is a harmless cream-puff – he or she will be destroyed unless you can prove s/he is anot a member of a “declared” breed.

The answer – in the only language politicians seem to understand – is pressure and more pressure on your local MP to vote against BSL wherever and whenever it sticks its ugly head up. If the Politicians are interested, there are plenty of Canine Behavioural Experts who can categorically and scientifically show BSL is a failure in terms of reducing dog attacks in every jurisdiction where it has been introduced across the world. An individual dog, just like a person is and should always remain inoocent until proven guilty.

**Editor’s note: Apologies to latte drinkers & Koalas 😉

12 Responses to “Death-row dog released after 15 months – BSL fails again”

  1. Angii

    Funny you say that because Napthines proposed legislation that is being worked on behind closed doors is just the opposite. Due to councils losing big $’s in BSL cases we Victorians re just about to lose one of our most important constitutional rights – Napthine is pushing through legislation that ALL DOGS SEIZED UNDER BSL WILL BE PRESUMED GUILTY UNLESS PROVEN OTHERWISE BY THEIR OWNER ! This country is becoming more a stranger o me every day 🙁

    • pups4sale

      Ummmm…..I think you might need to re-read the article Angii, as we are saying exactly the same thing; not the opposite as you assert. It is a serious business indeed when a Government in the Westminster tradition breaks with one of the central tenets laid down by the Magna Carta centuries ago; someone is innocent until proven guilty. Let’s hope if these legislative changes proposed by the Victorian Government do go through they are immediately challenged in the High Court.

  2. Judi

    Good article. Something that puzzles me, however. The Council’s calling for changes to Victorian BSL by reversing onus of proof which will have dog-owners guilty until proven innocent? That is exactly what we have NOW.

    The BSL we currently endure were destined for failure in the first place. BSL and any off-shoot (via ‘tweaked’ changes) of it will NEVER WORK and will not serve to assist the Community, whether dog-owner or not.

    BSL needs to be abolished and replaced with a better, fairer, workable and SUCCESSFUL legislation. The “Calgary Model” (Canada) Law has and continues to be suggested to Government for this purpose. This is proven successful and surely the Government and Councils should recognise that following successful law has got to be the way to go. Not follow failed laws – to do so is a ludicrous act. To continue to do so is inexplicably irresponsible to the Community as a whole.

    • pups4sale

      Couldn’t agree more Judi. The laws will only be changed through continual pressure on the pollies. Social Media such as FB is something they are increasingly paying attention to as well. The reverse onus of proof you mention is not actually something applied consistently by Councils – hence the confusion. Perversely it would be easier if they all applied the one standard – then the whole lot could be challenged in the High Court as unconstitutional. We shall see I guess!

  3. Lyn Renn

    Not sure about this , but wouldn’t a simple DNA test prove what the relevant breed is?????

    • pups4sale

      Actually it’s not as simple as that. If you don’t have access to the parents or siblings, it makes it very hard. DNA is normally used to prove x offspring comes from y parent – not the other way around. So all reversing the onus of proof does (and of course the politicians know this) is to make it nigh-on impossible to defend oneself – or one’s dog – in Court.

    • Judi

      Reply to Lyn Renn

      In Victoria, laws were written into the BSL (and BSL extension) that prohibits Breed DNA being submitted and accepted in a Court of Law as evidence of breed or breed mix. Further, even any Canine Council Breed Certificate certifying to breed will not be accepted in a Court of Law as evidence of breed UNLESS it is a breed certificate issued for AmStaff. This last was a lousy bunch of flawed wording and oversight on the part of those who wrote the proposed law; those who proof-read/approved it; and those who accepted it into law.

  4. Peter

    I do hope that the council end up paying the legal fees. It’s ridiculous that one would need to go to such expense. We need to stand up because what they can do to one person, they can do to all of us.

    • pups4sale

      Yes Peter, we do understand costs are involved – which of course make the bleating from the Council all the more loud. All levels of Government hate being stung for costs in Court cases and routinely change legislation as a result in order to try and prevent the same from happening in future. That is another reason why you can bet there is pressure on within the tiers of Government to further tighten up BSL laws and change the onus of proof.

    • Judi

      Hi Peter – you can help us “stand up” against this insidious law by joining the Global Rally that has been arranged to take place in the various States (and other places in the World) on 13th July. It’s a peaceful rally and it’s about showing our presence as voters – no dogs, as it is not about show-casing them.

  5. Judi

    In many cases, even if the case has been won at VCAT by the dog’s owner, costs cannot be awarded – it’s the way the law is worded. Even the daily costs accrued whilst the dog has been impounded are usually payable by the dog’s owner. When a dog is impounded for over a year (not unusual when you consider all the legal steps and how long these take to transpire) you can imagine the whacking load of expense put on the owner. The pound who holds the dog (in this case, Lost Dogs Home, who are the only ones who support BSL) wins either way.

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