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Italy Revokes Breed Ban


By Cheri Moon, Photograph by Jennifer Hayes

Official Claims Law Had No Scientific Foundation

When in Rome…

Italy will eliminate its list of dangerous dogs—replacing it with a law making owners more responsible for their pet’s training and behavior.

The new law, effective in April, will eliminate the current list of 17 breeds which are considered potentially dangerous, including Rottweilers, pit bull terriers, bull mastiffs and American bulldogs.

Under the current law, owners of blacklisted breeds are required to keep them muzzled in public places and ensure that they pose no danger to others. Failure to respect the law can result in the animal being put down.

New Law Puts Responsibility On Owner

The new law is built on the foundation that any dog, regardless of breed, can potentially be dangerous and it puts the responsibility—morally and legally—on the owners for a dog’s behavior.

Says Health Undersecretary Francesca Martini, “This is a historic day because we have established for the first time the responsibility of the owner or the person who is momentarily in charge of the animal.”

The new law forbids training dogs to be aggressive using sticks and protective body gear, doping, surgery that is not for health purposes and dangerous cross-breeding. The law also makes veterinarians responsible for compiling a register of individual dogs who they believe may be potentially high risk, requiring owners to keep those pets muzzled in public.

Martini added that the previous law had no scientific foundation and compared it to a “fig leaf over the larger problem.”

USA Needs to Follow Suit

Despite this, many communities in the United States are currently considering enacting breed bans.

Says Ed Fritz, Best Friends’ campaign specialist for Pit Bulls: Saving America’s Dog, “Italy’s decision to end its ban on dog breeds is further evidence that breed discrimination just doesn’t work.”

He adds, “Rather than breed-discriminatory restrictions, communities should mirror Italy’s example and put the onus on the owner with good comprehensive dangerous dog/reckless owner laws.”

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