Media release date: 
Friday, 19 August 2011

Despite having some of the most restrictive rules for dog owners in the world, dog attacks still happen in Australia. Vets say overregulation is not the answer.

“Following the tragic dog attack in Melbourne this week it’s vital that we redouble our efforts to improve education and socialisation of dogs and people,” said Dr Kersti Seksel from the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA).

“It’s understandable that people are now calling for the banning of some breeds, however all the good evidence available shows that this doesn’t work,” she said

“Unfortunately we believe the banning and overregulation of dogs in our communities could be part of the problem as this leads to poor socialisation and increased risk of attacks.

“We know from experience that all dogs have the potential to react aggressively if scared or threatened but most dogs don’t bite, so the banning of some breeds over others doesn’t make sense.

“It really important now for government to make sensible decisions about how to deal with this issue and we feel that increased funding for education and socialisation programs for dogs, their owners and young children are a vital part of the solution,” said Dr Seksel.

The AVA says that young children are the highest risk group for dog bite injury, with most at risk in their home environment for their family pet. There are currently a number of school based programs that are making progress on dog bite prevention, but more can be done.

“We’re never going to be able to prevent every incident, but a really good way to help prevent bites and attack is through socialisation of puppies with people and other dogs at a young age, and teaching our children how to be safe around animals,” said Dr Seksel.

“Unfortunately a tiny minority of dog owners don’t do the right thing in addressing aggression in their animals, and sanctions are necessary to encourage responsible pet ownership.

“However, the vast majority of owners are responsible, and overregulation won’t fix the problem,” said Dr Seksel.

For further information and requests for interviews contact the AVA media office on (02) 9431 5062, 0439 628 898 or media@ava.com.au.


The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is the only national association representing veterinarians in Australia. Founded in 1921, the AVA today represents 7500 members working in all areas of animal science, health and welfare.

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