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Greyhound muzzling

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Ratification Date: 28 Feb 2017

Policy

The AVA opposes compulsory pet Greyhound muzzling. It is contrary to the AVA’s policy on breed-specific legislation, which states that “legislation to prevent dog bites and to manage aggressive dogs should focus on the individual dog and the owner, not the breed”.

Background

There is a compulsory requirement for pet Greyhounds to wear a muzzle in public in all states and territories of Australia, with the exception of the Northern Territory and many local councils in Queensland.

Muzzles may cause distress if they are improperly fitted, or introduced abruptly to an unaccustomed dog. Muzzles may prevent dogs from engaging in normal behaviour or from defending themselves against attack by another dog.

Pet Greyhounds in some jurisdictions may undergo muzzling exemption tests, signified by the issuing of a green collar that must be worn by the dog when it is in public places. Muzzling exemption tests are problematic, as they have not been validated for accuracy, repeatability or reliability.

The mandatory use of muzzles on pet Greyhounds works against the goal of re-homing Greyhounds, as it creates a negative societal perception about these animals. It is likely that the historic requirement for use of muzzles in racing animals was linked to the illegal practice of live baiting. While recognising that recent media reports about live baiting practices may have heightened concerns about the potential threat that Greyhounds pose to the community, the evidence to support the conclusion that these animals are more dangerous as a result is equivocal.

Many young, untrained or unraced Greyhounds are adopted as pets every year. The compulsory muzzling of dogs that have not adequately adapted to wearing a muzzle may cause distress to the animal, and many new adoptive families would be unaware of the effect this may be having on their pet.

Retired Greyhounds should not be subjected to extensions of the rules of racing. Existing local animal laws provide adequately for the control and management of dogs in public places.

Recommendations

  1. Removal of compulsory legislative muzzling requirements for pet Greyhounds while in a public place.
  2. Introduction of welfare standards to ensure all Greyhounds are afforded early and appropriate socialisation opportunities with other pets and people.
  3. Education of prospective new owners on the socialisation, training and exercise requirements and limitations of the breed and the individual at the time of rehoming, in lieu of additional layers of legislation.

Other relevant policies

Breed-specific legislation

Puppy socialisation

Reference

Australian Veterinary Association. Dangerous dogs: a sensible solution. 2012. http://www.ava.com.au/newsarticle/dangerous-dogs-%E2%80%93-sensible-solution