The New Zealand SPCA recently overturned a long-running policy that required homeless Pit Bulls to be euthanized simply because their breed was deemed “menacing.” From now on, the animal welfare group will base their decision on the individual dog, not the breed.
According to Dr. Arnja Dale, the SPCA’s chief scientific officer, “We just could not, hand-on-heart, say that euthanizing dogs based on breed was the right thing to do.” The SPCA’s new policy will consider each dog’s disposition as well as past treatment. In fact, any history of owner neglect or abuse will be treated as a significant factor. Dogs that pass the standard assessment will be listed for adoption and – hopefully soon – on their way to a loving family.
Two sweet Pit Bulls named Riggs and Blue are already benefiting from this landmark policy reversal. Riggs was taken into the SPCA after being struck by a vehicle, while Blue was brought in after his previous owners were not allowed to keep him due to rental restrictions at their property. Both dogs have since passed their veterinary check-ups and other assessments and have been added to the SPCA adoption list, which describes the two as “affectionate, loyal pups who need a calm, confident owner.”
While this marks an essential step in the fight against unfair breed stereotypes – and the inaccurate Pit Bull perception in particular – there are still significant strides to be made. New Zealand continues to practice Breed Specific Legislation (BSL), a controversial and ineffective system of bans and restrictions against breeds that are perceived as “menacing.” As one of these “menacing” breeds, American Pit Bull Terriers cannot be imported, and those already in the country must be muzzled in public spaces and neutered. Other breeds controlled by the New Zealand Dog Control Act are the Brazilian Fila, the Japanese Tosa, the Dogo Argentino, and The Presa Canario
Research shows that breed-based bans are generally ineffective, misguided, and a waste of valuable public resources. Community-based approaches are recommended instead.
Nevertheless, this news coming from New Zealand is worthy of celebration. As we work to build strong, healthy communities of dogs and dog parents, it’s important to encourage conversation about these issues, enjoy victories like this one, and remember that many small steps will lead to big progress for all pups!
Featured image via Happy Dog Barkery
H/t Manukau Courier