AmStaff Update -

Amended Law Explained 2010

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Justice for American Staffordshire Terriers In Queensland

Amendment 63a receives Royal Assent.

Members of CCC would no doubt be aware of the strong defence which Dogs Queensland mounted on behalf of pedigreed, registered Amstaffs and their owners in our State. Much has been written explaining the background to this issue but for the record, a brief summary

of the events leading up to and since would be valuable.

The Honourable Justice Martin, when considering the evidence

presented in the Supreme Court of Queensland in the application brought by Ms Kylie Chivers in respect to her dog “Tango” against the Gold Coast City Council, decided that her American Staffordshire Terrier (commonly called an AmStaff) was in fact an American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT).

This decision was not surprising at all given that Justice Martin could only ever be expected to base his findings upon the evidence presented to the court. What is most interesting is that a review of court transcripts reveals that the very evidence upon which the Judge relied was actually submitted by the appellant, Ms Kylie Chivers. Whilst it must seem to many members that this issue has been on the Dogs Queensland radar for quite

some time (since March 2010), the speed with which the Queensland Government reached a responsible decision was actually quite rapid

and followed a predetermined process.

Dogs Queensland is therefore delighted to report that on Monday 20th September 2010, amendment 63a to the Animal Management (Cats and Dogs) Act 2008 received Royal Assent and became law in Queensland. After two Parliamentary readings and lengthy debate, the proposed amendment was passed in what must now be considered a significant landmark decision, not only for pedigreed registered Amstaffs but for all Pedigreed Registered dogs both here in Queensland and Australia wide.

In its entirety, 63a reads as follows:

63A Provisions for deciding what is a breed of dog:

(1) Each of the following certificates, for a dog, is evidence the dog is of the breed stated in the certificate:

(a) a pedigree certificate from the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC);

(b) a pedigree certificate from a member body of the ANKC;

(c) a pedigree certificate from a national breed council registered with the ANKC;

(d) a certificate signed by a veterinary surgeon stating, or to the effect that the dog is of a particular breed.

(2) However, if a dog is of the breed American Staffordshire terrier, it is not of the breed American Pit Bull Terrier.

(3) Also, the breed American Pit Bull Terrier does not include a dog of the breed American Staffordshire Terrier.

The wording of 63a does warrant some explanation – it contains certain terminology which may appear “foreign or different ”

to most of our members.

First and foremost is the fact that the Queensland Government have only accepted into law those breeds recognised by the ANKC. By virtue of the very mention of ANKC pedigrees, the State Government have acknowledged that we actually “own and manage” those breeds

– we own the standards, we issue the pedigree paperwork, we determine if a breed is included on our registers and as such we determine

the breeds that can be issued with an official ANKC pedigree.

The legislation, by inference does not recognise cross bred dogs or designed dogs as “true dog breeds”. It is also worth mentioning that to

the best of our knowledge, 63a is the first time that our National Body

 or our affiliated State Controlling Bodies have been specifically

mentioned in legislation.

The 63a legislative amendment follows directly after clause 63 of the Act, which defines “What is a Restricted Dog” and it explains that

  “A restricted dog is a dog of a breed prohibited from importation into Australia under the Customs Act 1901 (Commonwealth)”.

Note – there are currently 5 restricted breeds which are prohibited from importation into Australia – Presa Canario, filo Brasileiro, dogo Argentino, Tosa Inu and American Pit Bull Terrier.

Section (1) of 63a provides clear definitions of the acceptable methods to be used for positive identification of a breed of dog. It is very important for members to note here that points (a) to (d) are not actually specific to AmStaffs – they apply to all breeds of dog. So, if in the future any of our other recognised breeds should come under threat, then the approved method of identification is explained in legislation

– and that method is written into law.

(a) A pedigree certificate from the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)

Note – all of our registered pedigreed dogs have these documents and pedigrees are immediately identifiable and can be validated by the gold ANKC logo in the bottom right hand corner of the document.

(b) A pedigree issued by a member body of ANKC

Note – for a pedigreed registered dog that has been transferred onto the Queensland register from an Interstate ANKC affiliated Controlling body or a dog that has been imported into Australia from overseas and placed on the ANKC register and then reregistered by an ANKC

affiliated State Controlling body.

(c) A pedigree from an ANKC National Breed Council

Note – members may see this as a curious inclusion because at present, no ANKC recognised National Breed Council has the ability to issue a pedigree certificate. However, this covers situations where at some point in the future a breed may be under development, as was the case with Stumpy Tail Cattle Dogs. And having the provision in place does not detract or weaken the intent of the legislation.

(d) A certificate signed by a Veterinary Surgeon stating,

or to the effect, that the dog is of a particular breed

Note – this provision was included by Government to cover the situation where recognised paperwork (a pedigree) had been lost or not transferred from Interstate or Overseas. The onus then rests completely with a Veterinary Surgeon to determine the breed of dog if methods covered in (a), (b) and (c) above can not be supplied or complied with. It would also cover a situation where a particular dog has been purchased from a pet Shop and no paperwork has been provided.

Section (2) of 63a states that:

“However, if a dog is of the breed American Staffordshire Terrier, it is not of the breed American Pit Bull Terrier”.

Note – in other words, an AmStaff is not the same breed of dog as the restricted Pit Bull.

Section (3) of 63a goes on to state that:

“Also, the breed American Pit Bull Terrier does not include a dog of the breed American Staffordshire Terrier”.

Note – if a dog is identified as a restricted Pit Bull, then it is not a recognised AmStaff.

We are absolutely certain that all members (both here and Australia wide) will understand exactly what has been achieved via the 63a amendment. It sets a precedent for all other State Governments to follow if ever the question of “how to identify a breed of dog” becomes an issue in the future.