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Veterinarians slam Breed Specific Legislation killing two innocent dogs in Australia

Dhicon_thumb By DogHeirs Team | June 16, 2012 | Comments (90)

When Breed Specific dog laws were introduced in Australia last September, the Australian Veterinarian's Association (AVA) was clearly opposed the legislation. Dr. Susan Maastricht of the AVA said. "Not only will it fail to prevent dog bites, innocent dogs can clearly end up being scapegoats because of the way they look."

Kooda and BearSadly, two dogs did end up being scapecoats this week. After a lengthy legal battle with a local council in Victoria, Nathan Laffan and Samantha Graham lost their fight to save their two dogs. Despite the fact that neither of the dogs had done anything wrong, the two were put down because of the way they looked. The AVA slammed the ruling, stating the laws have led to two innocent dogs being killed.

When they learned about the introduction of the law, Laffan contacted Moira Shire Council to ensure his dogs, Bear and Kooda, would be safe. A council officer who went out to the couple's home identified the dogs as pit bulls and had them seized and taken to a local pound.

Graham saying goodbye to Bear and KoodaAccording the the new law, councils are allowed to seize and destroy unregistered pit bull terriers and their crosses based on visual identification alone. The legislation provides guidelines for councils on how to identify pit bulls based on key markers including muscular build, head profile and size-to-weight ratio.

However, visual identification of pit bulls is especially subjective, as pit bulls are cross-bred in origin. Pups of one litter of pups can look completely different from one another and DNA tests can be inconclusive. "To some degree there is the potential for subjectivity," said Dr. Maastricht.

Graham and Laffan challenged the council, saying their dogs were mistakenly identified as pit bulls. A local breeder stated the dogs came from a bull mastiff cross American bulldog and a staffie cross ridgeback. However, the council was not swayed.

The couple were given an hour's notice and a just few minutes to say goodbye to Bear and Kooda.

Kooda in happier daysThey argued their dogs "wouldn't hurt anyone". "They were just the kindest and best dogs. They were always playful, we loved them so much," Laffran said. "We would have trusted them around children more than most babysitters."

Laffan is now calling for behavior tests to be used to assess a dog's temperament, rather than simply appearance and breed targeting. "The laws are all messed up, they should never have brought them in," Laffan said. "We were just trying to do the right thing and they [the council] just stabbed us in the back."

Unfortunately for Laffan, Graham, Bear and Kooda, they became victims of Breed Specific Legislation that was introduced as a solution to reduce dog bites. The strict laws came into effect after the fatal mauling of Melbourne toddler Ayen Chol.

In similar circumstances, an innocent dog named Lennox has also been victimized by BSL in Northern Ireland. Read more about Lennox's story and what you can do about BSL in your community here: Will the Lennox Tragedy impact breed specific legislation in your community?

Nathan Laffan and Samantha Graham
Nathan Laffan and Samantha Graham saying their last "goodbye" to Kooda and Bear. Image via 9News.


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View more articles in: Advocacy and Animal Welfare

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Comments on this Article

What a rotten local government. They have a license to kill and they do not hesitate to do exactly that. They decide what can live and what they want to die.
Here here to what Natalie says. This just pure evil by misguided individuals that seem to have no other purpose than to destroy lives and families by killing innocent dogs that have done nothing at all to deserve this. My blood boils and if I was in Victoria I would be on the steps of parliament and hounding the councils to try and stop this law. Karma will act upon these cowards that we put into these positions. We can remove them
OMG that is HORRIBLE when I saw this video it broke my hearth in pieces. It's extremely SAD! I feel the PAIN and ANGER that these owners have. Im writing this and I can't stop crying... To beggin with they were NOT Pit Bulls, they have some Bull Mastiff, they are NOT Pit's. I have a friend that has the same dog then does 2. And its from a breeder and it is a Bull Mastiff. How in Gods name can someone just walk in without any reasons what's so ever and take does baby's away from 2 people that are their parents to them, that loves them with all their hearth. How can anybody do this kind of EVILNESS???? They never attack anyone, you can even see them in the video with a child! That is PURE EVIL!!! I pray that KARMA will come back and to this women. Every animal deserves a chance to live. As for Pit Bulls it is the media's propaganda to demonize the good nature of this breed (Pit Bulls). They are extremely intelligent and very sensetive dogs. Just like Cesar Millan says (I rehabilitate dogs, I train people) and this comes from the Best Dog trainer... I am so so sorry for both of you for your losts words can't even describe the pain you both must be going throught! My prayers are with you both and your 2 little baby's!!! :(
This is an appalling example of bureacratic hard-heartedness. I feel for the owners. I say SHAME & DOUBLE SHAME on the perpetrators of this injustice in the cause of blind legalism. Once you engage with these type of council apparatchiks you learn that their first loyalty is to themselves - to covering their own unworthy arses under the chain of command. Compassion sadly comes in last. I wish you had identified the council responsible so we can complain directly to them. Also please make it easier for people to comment without going through the lengthy and inappropriate process of joining up. Thanks. My sympathies to the victims.
I feel so sorry for the owners of these lovely dogs. Only pups and not a chance to live a life. What has humanity become when we have leaders that can condone this cruel and unnecessary law? I am ashamed to be a human being with what we do to nature and beautiful pups like these. Let us all do what we can to stop this murder. Politicians have to listen
I am SO, SO, SORRY for the loss of your babies!!!! It was MURDER!!!! May God heal your hearts and bless your souls.
My girl looks like one of those pups PTS! We have several cities that ban certain breeds, but nothing this severe and heart breaking. To Nathan and Samantha, I am doing all I can to bring awareness to tragedies like ya'lls, so no one else has to feel the pain and loss of their precious babies being taken away.
My heart is breaking as I watched this video. They are such beautiful puppies and you could see from their face that they're loving dogs. This is so sad. As human how would we feel if we're being condemn based on the way we look? Such a shame. My heart goes out to Nathan & Samantha for having to go through this. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
What a horrible story for these dogs and their owners...anyone could see they were raised with love from puppyhood...and that is all they knew until the day they were dragged off...and killed...!!!...The human race has not come very far from even the days of the cave man....Shameful and disgusting...!!!...I Pray that what goes around comes back...tenfolds...!!!...for those murderers...!!!...not the people of Australia...but for those who commited this heinous act...!!!...My heart goes out to the owners...and to those two defenseless souls...Rest in Peace...Bear and Kooda...run free in GOD'S Green Pastures...you are free now from this evil world...!!!
Wow, harsh. My heart goes out to them for having their beloved 4 legged family members killed. As many who have lost a pet, can attest, it is very painful. To know that your own government decree's it simply because of their looks is a blow to the gut for sure. I was attacked by a dog, that had no pitbull in him, but he had been abused and he was very mean. The bite was so severe it took almost 6 months to heal. Did they put this dog down? Nope they just fined his owner for not having him on a lease.
ALL vets should boycott this barbaric law. I can understand if the dogs had caused an event, but to murder them just for the way they looked - my god. Just as well they don't do this to people. All dogs have the potential to do something wrong, not just the restriceted breeds. I was fortunate enough to work as a vet nurse for 15 years, and I came across a lot of pitbulls and other breeds, and not once, NOT ONCE did I come across a bad dog. As with children, dogs learn from there owners.
This is absolutely disgusting!! I can not believe that anyone could bring themselves to killing two innocent dogs just because of their breed! That is just the same as putting a person down because of their race!!!! My heart truly goes out to the owners of Kooda and Bear. I don't know what I would do if anyone tried to come and take my two staffys away! My dogs are my babies and would never hurt anyone they are my family just as Kooda and bear would have been, Melbourne council you have taken their children away and killed them!!! I hope you can't sleep at night!!! RIP poor innocent fur babies!! Have fun over the rainbow bridge and my thoughts are with Nathan and Samantha! xx
BSL is insane. Power mad meglamaniacs are employed as Dog Rangers, most of them have NO FORMAL TRAINING, or even own a dog!! Despite every leading dog authority coming forward and say BSL does not work, it is not the breed, Politicians do not listen. Councils in Australia are money hungry and full of political wannabes, the bribery & corruption is rife in some. Bad dogs are not born - They are made bad by bad humans...but NO ONE WILL LISTEN TO COMMON SENSE. Someone will be killed over this, the tensions are very high.
I usually have tears in my eyes when I watch these. But I really cried. Usually they are rescue and my eyes get watery.. This one well the babies were murdered for being who they were. Not what they did or did not do. Just for teh looks. The one does not look like a pitt I think. The other has a bigger head... unforgivable what they did. I got to go find some tissues. I am so sorry for your loss. RIP Kooda and Bear.
That is so so sad. My heart aches for them. The only question I have is 'why weren't they registered?'
I hope the idiots who misidentified these dogs rot in Hell, along with the filthy scumbags who came up with this immoral law. Will it kill innocent dogs? YES!!! IT JUST DID!! It murdered two dogs who never harmed a soul! What is really disgusting, other than the law itself, is the visual ID, the SAME filthy piece of stupidity that cost Lennox, another innocent dog misidentified as a pit bull, his life. When I looked at these dogs, my FIRST thought was that they are mastiffs, and sure enough, that IS WHAT THEY ARE!!! If you know anything about dogs, you can tell that!!! Rot in hell you bloody bastards--- you killed innocent dogs because you are bloodthirsty, stupid creeps who can't admit the problem is people, and would rather murder the innocent than REMOVE THE GUILTY (PEOPLE)!!
My heart breaks for this family. Losing not just one but two family members because of some people's ignorance is not fair. What has the world come to? It is this kind of thing that makes one lose faith and trust in humanity. We have evolved to become the vilest, most evil creatures on the planet.
Unreal! They would have to go through me, my guns then kill me before they got any where near my dog!
Please do not blame an entire country for what a very few have done wrong! I hope that citizens of all nations will work together to end this horrible practice of destroying precious animals because of how they look or because of their breed! "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing" from Soviet film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's book "War and Peace"
Dog murderers!!Shame on you Australia!!End BSL now!!People of Australia...fight!!Fight to end this madness!!The next dog could be yours!!
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