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'Clarity needed' in muzzle issue

Tuesday, 16th April, 2013

Patch, a three-year-old cattle dog, with RSPCA attendant Cheryl Backhouse. Patch is looking for an energetic home with lots of room to move. Being a cattle dog, he is a prime candidate for having a muzzle and the RSPCA advises people to use muzzles responsibly. Patch, a three-year-old cattle dog, with RSPCA attendant Cheryl Backhouse. Patch is looking for an energetic home with lots of room to move. Being a cattle dog, he is a prime candidate for having a muzzle and the RSPCA advises people to use muzzles responsibly.

Dog muzzling has come under scrutiny after recent media reports have raised concern about the issue.

It follows the release of draft standards on cattle and sheep welfare, and a consultation process by Animal Health Australia (AHA).

AHA Chief Executive Off icer, Dr Mike Bond, urged people in the Far West to comment on the draft standards.

"There have been some recent inaccurate reports about this process in the media which may have caused some confusion and misunderstanding amongst our members, stakeholders and individual producers," Dr Bond said.

"The fact is there are three proposed standards that relate to the acceptable use of dogs for cattle and sheep handling.

"It's well accepted that farm working dogs are indispensable for cattle and sheep farmers."

President of the West Darling Pastoralists Association, Sue Andrews said most things in the draft were common sense.

"If people are interested in it, they should look into it," Mrs Andrews said.

"I don't think the Pastoralists Association wouldn't have any disputes with what was said."

The Daily Telegraph recently printed an article about the RSPCA's concerns over the use of muzzles.

Mrs Andrews said as long as muzzles are used correctly, there shouldn't be any problem.

"We use muzzles in sheep yards, if the dog is biting - there is no problem," she said.

"We hope that everyone is the region is complying with the laws. But the draft makes perfect sense."

RSPCA NSW has responded to the Daily Telegraph article, saying that their view had been misrepresented.

"The RSPCA understands that working dogs are an integral part of farm life and our policy on dog management accepts the use of muzzling dogs when working with livestock," a spokesman said.

"We stress however that muzzling devices must be properly fitted and used only under constant supervision for short periods of time."

The draft has a 60-day public consultation period which ends on May 6.

Submissions can be made via email, fax or post or by completing a specially designed online survey. For more information about AHA, visit www.animalhealthaustralia.com.au.

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