Upper Austria: Six dog breeds must be classified as dangerous

Municipalities should also be given more freedom after incidents involving dogs.

In the state subcommittee, Upper Austrian state parliamentary parties agreed on Wednesday to draft a tougher dog rights law. Six species must be classified as endangered, which has special requirements for keeping them, including wearing a leash and wearing a muzzle. Additionally, communities should have more freedom after incidents involving dogs. The reason for the amendment was a severe bite attack on a jogger in Norn in October 2023.

According to the proposed regulations, an “increased training requirement” would apply to individuals seeking to acquire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Togo Argentinos, Pit Bulls and Dosa Inu. This usually applies to large dogs that are over 40 centimeters tall at the withers or over 20 kilograms in weight. In concrete terms, owners of these dogs must complete a practical test, the so-called suitability test for daily use, in addition to the general proof of competence – six hours for small dogs. The behavior of the dog and its owner/mistress is checked in common everyday situations such as traffic or crowds.

“Dangerous” species require a common muzzle

In addition, a common skin and muzzle requirement in public places is planned for those six “dangerous” species from the 13th month of the animal's life. The ÖVP particularly pressed for this tightening after the deadly sting attack. Their club president Christian Dorfel was satisfied with the “fighting dog regulations” in the draft. However, the opportunity must also be given to “apply for a waiver of the muzzle requirement from the municipality of residence based on the dog's positive behavioral medical evaluation and additional training.”

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In general, municipalities should be given more opportunities to better protect the population. A prerequisite for this is making it possible to transmit data in the case of a “transparent” dog. According to the amendment, if the owner moves or the dog is handed over to new owners, the new residence can also ensure that the animal is listed. They also want to give municipalities new options in the event of harassment or biting incidents. There is a list of measures ranging from banning dogs in certain places, to banning certain people from owning animals, to removing the dog.

“A Compromise Worth Trying”

A group of experts developed these new requirements on behalf of the responsible state councilor Michael Lindner (SPÖ). Your draft was discussed by the parties in the committee on Wednesday morning to develop an amendment that will be reviewed before being passed by the state parliament before the summer. Lindner was pleased that all parties were able to “agree on the content” of the draft he presented. If the proposed law change is not passed by the summer, the ÖVP wants “fighting dog regulation” to be brought forward, as Dörfel insisted.

A “tentative compromise” had been found, FPÖ club leader Hervik Maher said. His party has criticized dog ownership requirements based solely on breed. He welcomed the coming mix now, which also takes into account the weight and size of animals.

Neos are fundamentally in favor of the planned tightening of the law because the previous regulations were “too loose and watered down”. However, Julia Palmer, the club's vice president, is concerned about the lack of uniform regulations nationwide. The draft is therefore a critical revision with “painful gaps”. Green Defense spokeswoman Anne-Sophie Bauer said: “A good, common process has now led to this draft law, which we hope will be concluded soon.” (APA)

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