Update: Manningham Leader got in touch with us and have published a story about these dogs.

Dr Patricia Stewart (image pixelated at her request), Liz Walker, 2 x DPI lawyers, Colin Muir (obscured), Linda Watson, Jane Harvey

Council Declares Intent To Kill Family Dogs

Last week I was invited to attend a Review Panel hearing considering the fate of two dogs. Earlier this year a ranger from Manningham council removed two dogs from a residents home. This occurred while the home owner was out and no attempt had been made to contact the owner before a search warrant was obtained. The reason for the raid? The ranger believed the dogs to be American Pit Bull Terriers. At the time of this declaration it was illegal to register an American Pit Bull Terrier in Victoria unless it had existed in Victoria prior to November 2, 2005 and was currently registered with a Council. Note that neither of the dogs had been accused of harming anyone.

Review Panel Called To Decide Dogs Fate

There were three members on the panel tasked with deciding whether to affirm the declaration as made by the council officer or set it aside.

  • Dr Patricia StewartHonorary Secretary and Treasurer, Australian Veterinary Association (Vic branch)
  • Bonnie Norton, Secretary, American Pit Bull Terrier Club of Australia
  • Liz Walker, Shelter Worker, RSPCA Burwood
  • DPI staffer reveals their secret weapon, the Pit-o-Meter

    None of these panel members are qualified to do breed identification and yet each of them agreed to take part in the panel. There simply isn’t a reliable way to determine a dogs breed from appearance when the ancestry of the dog is unknown. The DPI’s own guidelines for councils are incredibly broad. The ranger who made the declarations told the panel that according to the DPI guideines, his German Shorthaired Pointer is an American Pit Bull Terrier.

    Under amendments to the Victoria’s Domestic Animals Act that came into effect on 1 Sep 2010, any dog that looks enough like the Government’s description of an American Pit Bull Terrier will be deemed to be a Restricted Breed dog. This means the actual breed of the dog is not longer relevant. This panel however was making a determination under the old law. Are these dogs APBTs? For those interested, we’ve included the relevant laws below.

    The Decisions Made By The Panel

    Sabbath was overjoyed to hear the news that he is not a pitbull.

    Sabbath has been returned to his owner after the Review Panel set aside the Council Ranger’s declaration. After five months being held at the pound, this 9 y/o family dog with no history of aggression is finally allowed to go home.

    Note that this required a previous appeal to a Review Panel who affirmed that he was a Restricted Breed Dog. This resulted in a Supreme Court challenge on the basis that the Panel did not take into account evidence from the dogs owners and their representatives.

    Ouzie’s declaration has been upheld ie.The panel have by majority vote upheld the declaration of Ouzie as a restricted breed. Fate still unknown

    Who would go to such trouble to save the life of a nine year old dog? Linda Watson, dog lover.

    Who would go to such trouble to have him destroyed? The City of Manningham with support from the Victorian Bureau of Animal Welfare.

    The Letter of The Law (for you legal eagles!)

    At the time of declaration the law defined a Restricted Breed Dog as:

    restricted breed dog means a dog of a breed
    whose importation into Australia is
    prohibited under the Customs (Prohibited
    Imports) Regulations 1956 of the
    and the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 stated:


    Dogs of the following breeds:

    (a)   dogo Argentino;

    (b)   fila Brasileiro;

    (c)   Japanese tosa;

    (d)   American pit bull terrier or pit bull terrier;

    (e)   Perro de Presa Canario or Presa Canario


    This does not include cross breeds. Australian Customs service manual clearly states this.

    2/2/6 Exemptions/Exclusions

    The control does not cover crossbreeds and hybrids, or consignments of semen and/or embryos.