New Animal Protection Act: Tougher Rules for Dog Owners

There have been repeated fatal attacks by dogs on people in the past. For example, the case of a clown killed by a large number of dog bites in Upper Austria in October caused a stir – and pressured the government to take action. At the time, Animal Welfare Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) had promised a total ban on the exercise of dogs. This will not happen now – however, the rules for such biting and attacking training should be significantly tightened.

“Over the past few months we have discussed various options: a complete ban on biting and assault training or stricter regulation,” Rauch said during a presentation of the amendment on Saturday. “After long discussions with experts, we have decided on more stringent conditions for the protection of dog sports. “If there had been a complete ban, we believe that part of the scene would have continued in secret, as it often does,” argued the minister. According to Rauch, the amendment will be discussed in the National Council in April.

Bite Training: Testing Dogs, Owners, and Trainers

All dogs trained as guard dogs require a mandatory temperament test and veterinary certificate. Minimum age for dogs is twelve months. Personality tests are held in clubs and conducted by certified examiners. “Only a few dogs are temperamentally suited for guard dog training,” says Rauch.

Quality assurance is also introduced to owners as part of a survey. You must also provide an extract from your criminal record. The test should be easily accessible to sufferers throughout Austria. This content is developed by experts in collaboration with relevant associations. Media/Michael Indra

Rauch brought Federal Police Director Takacs to his side for the presentation

At Rauch's side during the presentation was Federal Police Director Michael Daugax. He pointed out the responsibility of dog owners. It's about “responsibility for the organism, but it's also about responsibility in our society,” says Takacs. There are already “very clear rules for training service dogs and very clear guidelines and constant review of quality”. According to the Federal Police Director, these requirements now apply outside the police as well.

Dogs and Exotic Animals: Course Required

In the future, breeding dogs and exotic wild animals will require specialist certification. To keep amphibians, reptiles and parrots, four hours of specialized training must now be completed. Proofs must be submitted while purchasing livestock.

Parrot in front of a cage

Getty Images/Nat Krish

Anyone who wants to buy a parrot must submit proof of proficiency in the future

A two-hour practical unit is now required throughout Austria to own dogs. In some federal states, such as Vienna, there are already theoretical knowledge courses, but now a practical course is being added.

Rauch announces the “Qual Breeding Commission”.

A new amendment has also been introduced to end torture. Animals from such breeding often struggle with serious health problems such as short noses, constant wheezing and broken joints. “We are setting up a torture breeding commission,” Rauch announced. “It would define the characteristics of torturous breeding according to strict scientific standards. Because we know that when it comes to torture, the devil is more in the details.

The Commission, which has its own office, will review the breeding programs of the societies and support the enforcement bodies. Based on this, authorities can take action against breeders who use such animals for breeding in future.

The new amendment aims to continue to combat the illegal puppy trade. In future, buying and selling of illegal animals will be punishable. “Animals are raised in conditions that are truly unimaginable,” the minister said. “Purchasing animals from dubious sources – through car trunks, through orders, in motorway parking lots, on the internet – should simply be prevented because it involves massive animal suffering.”

A “first step” for animal rights activists, the dog association is satisfied

Animal welfare groups were cautiously optimistic on Saturday and spoke of a “first step”, however, more to follow.

The largest domestic umbrella organization of dog breeders, the Austrian Canine Association, talks about a “practical solution” regarding rules for attack and bite training. The FPÖ is pleased that biting and assault training has not been completely banned. She mentioned her own efforts in a broadcast.

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