Protest is mounting in Denmark. The debate is heated. Fair Dog, the initial voice against the breed ban is not alone anymore. Lars Bo Lomholt, the cop that saved the German Shepherd Thor from certain death, has became one of the leading figures in the fight against the breed ban. There has come support from animal rights organizations worldwide, especially from Germany. Local organizations like the Danish Veterinarian Organization and the Danish animal welfare organization "Dyrenes Beskyttelse" make their voice against the breed ban heard loud and clear through the media. A secret group has emerged, that breaks into shelters under the cover of night and frees dogs that await execution. Our petition is just a couple of votes away of gathering 50,000 votes. Fair Dog's petition has gathered even more than that, making a total of well over 100,000 votes.
The Danish Dog Act was planned to be evaluated before the end of this year and the then Danish Minister of Agriculture (responsible for animal welfare), Mette Gjerskov, launched a working group before the summer to investigate the results of the law during the previous 3 years. A report was ordered from Copenhagen University to evaluate the results of the law and experts and interest-groups were invited to give advice.
Their message was clear, apart from the Danish Kennel Club, who wants to see more blood, and a Facebook group fighting to uphold the law, it all pointed the same way. All the experts and their advice, as well as the report from Copenhagen University, say the same.
A breed ban does not, and will not, decrease the number of dog bites.
Why am I not surprised.
Despite the fact, that this simple message confirms what we learned from all the breed bans all over the world. Despite the mounting protests in Denmark. Despite all the thorough investigations from experts. Despite all that, the Danish Minister, Karen Hækkerup (following up Mette Gjerskov), has presented a new and updated Danish Dog Act, in which the breed ban will be uphold.
There is no reasoning for it, neither does Karen Hækkerup made an effort to deny anything experts has told her, as she said in the Danish newspaper, politiken:
"I am afraid of fighting dogs. I can't understand why people want to go around with a dangerous dog. I will not take one of the breeds of the list and risk it will hurt a child some day. I know the feeling myself, having to pass by a dog like that and feel afraid. And the law was made exactly because people were afraid."
All the facts in the world is not going to change a politician reacting this way. Trying to discuss breed bans bears no fruit.
I doubt she really is afraid. Every politician on this earth is more likely to cover up any fears they may have, and when they speak like this, it is meant to hit a string with the audience. It is meant to make us afraid, or nurture the fear we already have. Something that has worked very well for politicians in a whole lot of situations. We even went to war after hearing sentences like that.
Unless Karen became afraid of bull type dogs overnight, the whole evaluation process with experts was therefore nothing more than window dressing. Karen could have chosen to educate on responsible dog ownership, which is a lot more difficult to do than erecting a list.
Unfortunately, it hits the core of the problem with breed bans. It has nothing to do with dog bites. It has to do with people being afraid, based on juicy news headlines of biting dogs blaming the breed. And I do understand that. During history, there always was a fear for dog bites and a breed to blame. When I was younger the German Shepherd had a bad rep. I feared them too, following the advice of people I felt, must know. Later, it was the Doberman's turn. Now it is the bull type dog.
And in the mean time dogs still bite as much as they have before, and maybe even more. But we go around feeling safe because we are busy eradicating a whole breed of dogs. We still get bitten, but we feel safe. Even supporters of breed bans must agree, we will never see lines of people waiting in the emergency room, all with happy smiles on their faces: "Well, we got bitten, but thank god it wasn't a pit bull."
I hope when you read this, you can agree, whether you are in favor or against a breed ban, the common goal we all share is: less dog bites.
Breeds aside, I feel we all have to start discussing dog safety with our politicians and not the pros and cons of a breed ban. Ask them why we still get bitten. Why dog bites are still on the rise. And not let them get away by making another list. We have to demand results and rattle with our vote.