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The Dangerous Dog Laws for Javea

Last week I wrote about the personal suffering inflicted by dog attacks together with the resulting financial consequences that normally follow. One major problem is many dog owners find when their dogs have attacked people or animals their house insurance company will not pay the claim. This can because they found out about the dogs aggressive history or because different towns have different dog classified as dangerous. This, the insurance companies will argue, the dog should have been registered as dangerous so requiring separate insurance.

I found that here in Javea they do not classify my dog Winston who is a Boxer cross as dangerous and yet in other areas he is. In some of the other areas of Spain, he again would be dangerous because he is over the weight limit of 25 kilograms.

I am now in the situation that Winston is not restricted here in Javea but should I take him to say Santa Pola the Authorities could tell me to muzzle him. Not only that in some places a Boxer or Boxer cross is listed as a Dangerous Dog so moving round Spain I could be breaking the law not just in different provinces but even in different towns. Such a situation is ridiculous but they are the laws here so is it not better to take precautions.

As I have written previously the Dangerous Dogs Laws interpretations vary from town to town so it is important to consider the wisest move dog owners should take to protect people and animals from an attack by their dog.

The first and most important thing to do is find out the local dog laws from your town hall and not just to sit back and think this is just like England.

Secondly, dog owners should be concerned if their dog is showing any aggression that has them and other people worried. If another dog passes your seemingly aggressive dog and the passing dog shows it heckles then this is a very worrying indicator that there is true and dangerous aggression shown here by your dog.

If there is such aggression then it is important to retrain such dogs for socialbility as soon as possible. I know many dog owners will read this and still do absolutely nothing. Such owners seem they are quite prepared to take the risk. Yes, it is like a lottery where the dog could spend its entire life being aggressive yet lucky enough it never bites anyone. That is a big risk to take and when it does bite you cannot go back in time to correct the mistake: it’s too late.

Thirdly, do the same as I have done and rather than take that risk purchase the 300,000-euro insurance for 86 euros. I preferred this policy rather than the obligatory minimum of 120,000 euros for 60 euros. I think that even 300,000-euros liability claim insurance is far too low when you see some of the claims that have followed major dog attacks on children. Is this not the least we as dog owners owe to other people who could claim against us. Even if our dog were to cause, a road accident with two expensive cars the claim would be against us. Could we pay?

To see how my dog Winston would be categorised under the Dangerous Dog laws here in Javea we visited the local town hall. After a little wait we were redirected to the Technical office a few streets away. After half an hour, and following our interview found there were no forms available and so again we were redirected to yet another office a few more streets away. This time we recived a list of names of breeds Javea classified as Dangerous. These are the current ones for Javea: -

Section A
American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, Perro de Presa Mallorquin, fila brasileno, Perro de Presa Canario, bullmastiff, American pit bull terrier, Rottweiler, bull terrier, dogo de burdeos, tosa inu (Japan), dogo argentine, Doberman, mastine napolitano, and crosses of these dogs or dogs having similar characteristics.

Section B. Animals that have demonstrated or those notified that they have bitten people or animals.

Section C
Dogs trained for the attack.

Exclusions to restrictions: -
The dogs included in group’s b and c that have shown aggression can after a period of retraining be certified as non aggressive by a qualified veterinarian.

We recived the two forms that are required for completing the registration requirements needed for those dogs classified as dangerous. The second form owners complete once they have the insurance policy confirmation and other identification details and no criminal convictions. If all is in order this fulfils the registration procedure. Along with all this information, there are the instructions for owners on how to register their dog following an attack incident initiated by their dog.

We also recived all the rules (in Spanish) regarding cruelty and the various fines but I understand that now these rules are being tightened from the 1st of October 2004. From October anyone proven as being cruel to animals can now be subject to much higher fines, community service and jail sentences ranging from 3 months to 3 years.

Slowly the requested changes are coming and it is necessary to persist in bringing any actions of cruelty towards any domesticated animal to the attention of the authorities and to see that they do indeed follow up your complaint. I have just recived the following very applicable quote "Never believe that a few caring people can´t change the world. For indeed they are the only ones who ever have."(Margaret Mead)

I would like to welcome to Spain Malcolm Byrom who is Ex. Chairman of The Associated Sheep, Police & Army Dog Society (UK). For all those interested in Working Trials most competitors were always members of this Society. I was also a member of British Association of German shepherd Dogs, The Yorkshire Working Trial Association, and John Rogerson’s Northern Counties Working Trials Association. Malcolm wrote to me about my comment that normally people do not take their dogs out to do their toilet in the street without any interest in cleaning up after them. We all know that in fact many people do appear to think they have a right to use our streets as their dog’s personal toilets.

My comment in using “not normally” I thought this might prick these dog owners’ consciences into thinking this sort of behaviour is not neighbourly and to maybe to change their ways. It is against the law for an owner to allow their dogs to foul the street but we still see people do this and simply walk off unrepentant: why?

The other point Malcolm was making about the Dangerous Dog Law confusion problem is because he has a working collie that weights 27 kilograms and that is some places would make him a dangerous dog. Not only this but if he has trained his dog for Criminal Work then he has effectively trained an attack dog again making it into a dangerous dog and needing registering at the town hall if he lived here in Javea.

There does seem to be various methods of gaining exemption from having to apply the restrictions of owning a dangerous dog. It seems that in different towns they each have approved methods of assessing a dog as non-aggressive. I will write about into these methods in further articles.

If we have any other ex working trial members living here in Spain then possibly we could form ASPADS (Spain) and promote a fun trial or simply meet to socialise as we use to in the United Kingdom. Is there anyone interested in takeing on the job of secretary?

Talking of cruelty I recived an email from a lady requesting my help with a German shepherd dog brought into a shelter in Sudbury Ontario Canada. This dog appears very badly treated and abused by its owner so it is understandable that it now hates men and in particular, those wearing baseball caps. One worry is of course most children wear such caps so this problem needs solving quickly. Another problem for the shelter is that both their vets are male. It is also a very nervous dog and will scream and cower away at any approach towards it by a male and hates the slightest noise.

Once the dog came into the shelter the lady quickly made friends with it and I asked her to always make the dog come to her never go towards the dog. This she is now doing. She says she knows about Alpha dogs but in fact, in our human hybrid packs there are no Alpha dogs. Humans must take on this role of the Alpha leaders.

The next problem she had not spotted is within a few hours the dog followed her everywhere. This had to stop as separation anxiety would be the next problem and the dog was not learning to cope on its own. I requested the lady to ignore the dog more regularly and not show any eye-to-eye contact. She should wait for the dog to wander off and settle down then allow for 10 minutes before calling the dog over for a reward.

I asked her not to walk towards the dog with its food but to walk away from it and then to sit down and wait for the dog to come to her. Once it came near her, she should pretend to eat some of the food then to put the bowl down for the dog to come further forward to eat. This gives the dog the sight of who is the leader.

To solve the problem of the men and men in baseball caps she needs to be inside the dog’s mental programming so the dog must relearn the rules that all dogs normally know. I have asked her to introduce the dog to another dog that does know the rules and let them interact. Fortunately, she has an older dog that does interact well with this dog so this is a good step forward. It is important is to get the dog stabilised back to being a dog again and not as someone’s football.

I have also asked her to make up a can of compressed air and asked her if she knows anything about dog whispering. This technique is helpful to her to gain access to the dog’s mental programming and to establish her as the unchallengeable leader. I also suggested that she obtains lots of differing baseball caps to simply flood the dog’s senses so it learns that such caps are harmless.

Once she has all of these elements and trusts her new skills I can then take here through a way of stopping this dog’s fear and to accept men with or without caps as inoffensive. Dog whispering is the fastest way in but once this work is completed the dog must then go through sociability training for it to come to terms that humans mean it no harm and it is back in a sociable pack that fits its normal doggy understanding. I will write more about this dog as she proceeds with the retraining.

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