Dog trains man

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Seized in Holland

When the Dutch repealed their breed ban 3 years ago, the future seemed bright. At least for a moment. Although no more dogs are killed because of their looks, the new "Dangerous Dog Act" is killing more dogs than ever before. The innocent and the not so innocent.

Dogs are seized, of any breed, that are perceived as dangerous. If your Jack Russel or Yorkshire terrier jumps up to a person to greet, you risk your dog will be seized, as jumping up can be explained as dangerous behavior. Pounds are filled with dogs of any breed. Many have done nothing more than jumping up on people.

To prevent euthanization people can file a request to let their dog undergo a "Good Citizen" test. Most don't even bother, but for those that fight on to have their dog returned, an unpleasant surprise awaits. The dogs are kept in isolation, visits are not allowed, deprived of any contact or sunlight, and they have to wait for months, in some cases more than a year, to undergo the test. Needless to say how traumatized the dogs become, with almost no chance whatsoever to pass the test.

The Dutch "Workgroup for Assistance of Seized Dogs" tries to change all of this. They educate and inform the public, but also does an effort to help municipalities and counties to change their rule set and become aware of the unfair chance they give to the dogs and their owners. The workgoup's aim is that all seized dogs should undergo a fair test, and not be kept in the pound. And every dog should have the opportunity to get a second chance, and to be rehabilitated and socialized, before being tested.

Together with Martin Gaus (the Dutch Victoria Stillwell) the workgroup also steps in to help individual owners and dogs. With the socialization training they provide, many dogs have been rehabilitated and are living happy with their owners again, or are re-homed. The famous pit bull Ruby, that was sentenced to death 4 times, was one of these dogs.

The next video is showing how they rehabilitated Boran the Rottweiler. Boran was seized after a minor bite incident. He was kept in isolation for months and became completely traumatized. He failed the "Good Citizen" test as a result. After the workgroup was allowed to step in and provided training for Boran, he passed the test and could return to his owners.

Not all dogs make it. Some become so traumatized, their spirit never returns. Although the Dutch should be proud they repealed their breed specific legislation and stopped the discrimination of pit bull type dogs, they still have a long way to go towards a society that treats it's dogs fair. The workgroup is making a big effort to become that change for the dogs in Holland.


  1. What an amazing change! Fantastic! In the rottie, I mean.

    Holland has just gone from targeting a breed, to attacking a species. This is wrong and needs to be changed.

  2. @Julie - dogsandgeeks
    Such an awesome video what! My heart sunk seeing Boran coming out of the car, surely he didn't stand a chance .... but he did :)
    Maybe I was too mild with the Dutch, you are right, they are targeting a species now, even if they did not intended it.

  3. Great post! It strikes a chord because we change planes in Amsterdam when we travel to and from our Swiss home. We had no idea they had such draconian laws in The Netherlands.

  4. That video was amazing! I would have bitten that hand in my food far more quickly than the Rottweiler did!

    It's a step forward anyway -- better than the usual two steps back.

  5. Nothing like replacing one bad decision with another! I sure hope the Dutch straighten out their thoughts and methods about dogs soon. What a blessing for the dogs the Workgroup for Assistance of Seized Dogs is - wonderful work they do, as shown in the video. Thanks for keeping us updated on this issue!

  6. Oh wow Leo. This is discrimination on a whole new level! How sad and cruel. Thank God for a group like Workgroup for Assistance of Seized Dogs. The work they did with Boran was amazing. Seeing him at the beginning he looked so traumatized it made me want to cry. That's how many dogs like Daisy look. So scared. Ugh!

    I hope laws can change soon. It makes me so sad to see this kind of treatment being given to dogs who may have done something minor. Boran is proof that working with a dog can make all the difference.

    Here in Minneapolis, Minnesota we have a dangerous dog law, but it has a series of progressions with it. The first offense means the owner has to sign for the dog and it gets a dangerous dog label. The second time, they have to wear a muzzle and be on a 3 foot leash if outside. The third time, the owner must buy a $35,000 insurance policy and sign off that if the dog has a fourth offense they will be put down.

    Thank you for bringing attention to such a wonderful organization. I so love that you share what it is like outside the US and how groups are working to change things.

    No Dog About It Blog

  7. Oh I forgot. On either the 2nd or 3rd offense the owner also has to take a year long training class with their dog.

  8. Wow - unbelievable. It's so unfortunate that such silly laws are put in place. It's so sad that the dogs are placed in isolation :( Poor babies. I'm glad that there are groups that are doing what they can to help them!

  9. These laws are horrific! Thank goodness for Workgroup for Assistance of Seized Dogs. It sounds like these people are the only hope. Boran's outcome is nothing short of miraculous!

    Thanks for Blogging the Change, Leo. Knowledge is power and we can do so much with it.

    Kim C.

  10. What a change in Boran - from a dog who was obviously traumatized to one who was friendly and confident around people. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Wow... what a horrific law. :( I can only imagine how terrifying and disheartening it must be to live under such a regime. Thank goodness for the Workgroup. Thanks for sharing this info.

  12. this is so disturbing, Leo. i've always thought of Netherlands as a happy place with tulips, good cheese, cyclists and 'special cafes' :(

  13. One of my favorite things about your blog is learning what is going on with breed specific legislation in Europe. Here in the US, we often get so caught up in what our state is doing, we forget about the rest of the world.
    If jumping up on someone got a dog taken away, my little Terrier would be considered a dangerous dog for certain (he randomly barks at strange men), and even my Beagle might be considered dangerous- she'll jump into a stranger's lap at the dog park.
    I am very glad that there is a major group working to help these dogs and help the authorities understand that no dog, no matter how good, has a real chance to pass that test if they've been kept in isolation for months or more.

  14. This work group is an amazing idea. If the purpose of the Dutch legislation is to make sure dogs don't threaten people, training and rehabilitation is the key. I can't see that "jailing" dogs helps anyone. And certainly not the taxpayers.

  15. neat idea, but I wish they didn't need it....

    The thought of a dog being seized doesn't sit well with me at all. I keep looking over at Ko thinking that if something like that ever happened, we may as well euthanize. (The number of behaviors she comes up with that I have to "fix" is ridiculous - she's a reactive/aggressive/fearful dog waiting to backslide into something awful. Seclusion would be the end of her, one way or another.)
    ^ In that respect, though, I think that if she were seized and went STRAIGHT to the work group, things would be just fine. =] Of course, if she were with a family who allowed her to do something that required seizing in the first place...we'd be in trouble. =D

  16. Unbelievable! This is such an important post, Leo. In many places law makers are weighing their options between breed bans and dangerous dog statutes. It's good to know the wrong turn these laws can take! Hopefully it will help legislators and dog advocates institute laws that are fair and reasonable. I hope Holland gets this sorted out soon, for the sake of all dogs there.


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