Compelling Vets To Report Pit Bulls Will Only Help Hide The Problem

It is a fact that currently Veterinarians are not required to report illegal (unregistered, undeclared) pit bull to authorities. I regularly see pit bull -type dogs and my policy is to care for the animal and keep my mouth shut (because I don’t agree with the restricted breed register in the first place).

Now some voices are calling for Vets to be required to report restricted breeds:


“The unregistered, un-microchipped pitbull that killed four-year-old Ayen Chol last August had been seen by vet Michael Beattie six times, the Victorian Coroners Court heard on Wednesday.

Dr Beattie, a Hoppers Crossing-based vet, had the dog listed in his records as a male American pitbull, a restricted breed under Victorian law.

The vet told the court it was his usual practice to inform owners of restricted breeds to have their animals desexed, microchipped and caged in accordance with local laws.

But he said he was not aware of a legal obligation for vets to report the owners of such dogs who did not comply with the laws to authorities.”

Compelling Vets to act as Government spies is a very bad idea.

First of all it’s impractical. Should the Vets demand registration documents before treating every pit bull looking dog?

There is, however a more important reason and it revolves around the ethics of the Veterinary profession. Right now any dog owner is confident that if needed, they can seek the help of a Veterinarian without the risk of the dog being impounded. What if for the pit bull owner the Vet becomes the enemy? Not only will these dogs not receive medical care but the owners will also be deprived of the opportunity to give healthcare and safety advice to protect the public.

I for one, would have to think long and hard  weather such law would contradict my ethical obligations. I went into the Veterinary profession to be a helper and a healer, not a Government snitch. If a low is unethical and wrong, I will not hesitate to break it.


About Dr Vadim Chelom

Dr Vadim is a house call Veterinarian in Melbourne


  1. Michael Beattie B.V.Sc.

    To set the record state, this dog was in my records as an American PitBull because that is what the breeder told me it was. I never did a breed examination to determine what breed the dog was. At the time there was no criteria, no standard to compare the dog against. Using the current DPI selection criteria and my recollections of this animal I doubt that it would pass as a Pitbull.
    Sadly I fear the coroner will focus only on the fact this dog was supposedly a pitbull and unregistered and the true reason for this attack occurring will not come to light.
    This dog was not an agressive animal. Not once did I have to muzzle this dog and not once did it try to bite me, unlike some of my other patients.
    Because of the Breed Specific Legislation and how councils are implementing it (Hume Council for one) people are already afraid to register their dogs. The last thing we need is for people to be afraid to get needed veterinary care for their animals for fear of being reported to the council for an unregistered animal.
    The best way to resolve this situation — Get rid of Breed Specific Legislation.

    Michael Beattie. B.V.Sc.

    • Dr Beattie,
      I agree with many things you say. The photographs in the media do seem to suggest that the dog was a pit bull, but I have never examined the dog myself so I could be wrong.
      As much as I disagree with Breed Specific Legislation, it is the law of the land and we the Vets need to work with it. For me at least, a sight of an unregistered pit bull would raise alarm bells about the owner’s level of responsibility. If nothing else, the BSL could be a launching point for owner education.

  2. It is truly sad that we never get to hear the full story behind any dog attack.
    Some years ago in Adelaide another young child was attacked by the “family” dog, a Rottweiler cross. Of course there was the out cry to ban the Rottweiler. But reliable sources said the poor dog was neglected (something you could notice if you looked at the footage properly) and was regularly subjected to abuse from children of the household.
    I assisted in the destruction of another Rottweiler who we also considered to be of good temperament that attacked a couple of children……….I know half of that story was an arrogant owner.
    BSL is purely subjective – time and again this has been proven both overseas and in Australia. It is wrong, and proven to be ineffective.
    I find it astounding that the legislators categorically state that a scientifically proven DNA test cannot accurately identify a so called “pit bull type” yet a simple tape measure can? The legislators already have rejected advice from the experts such as the veterinary industry and yet now they suggest that we should report our clients – surely that just opens up a huge legal can of worms

  3. Dr Vadim Chelom, where are the photographs you refer to that were in the media of the dog that attacked the little girl? I don’t believe any photos have been released. Please share with a link if you can of photos of said dog. Thanks.

  4. Lisa J Ryan

    BSL is a state government license for non trained and inexperienced council rangers to round up dogs based on how they ‘look’. Many countries around the world have learnt the bitter lessons of BSL and many innocent dogs have lost their lives. The LAW is not always right and BSL is not right. As the AVA has done, all Vets need to speak out against BSL. Bad laws need to be changed or are we going to again allow discrimination of people based on looks, colour, sex or religious views ? The primary customers of all Australian Vets are the public not the state government and the public LOVE their pets and will fight for their pets.

  5. Bobbie

    As humans, doctors are not allowed to judge us on how we look or what we have done so why should vets be cornered to do this to dogs…? BSL has to go that is THE ONLY ANSWER!!!! Remember Dr/patient confidentiality people…? what a crock!!!!

  6. Janice

    Dr. Beattie and other vets are paid to maintain the health of our pets. Bylaw officers, police officers and other officials have it in their job descriptions and are paid and privileged of taking our beloved pets. Lets keep vets job requirements as they are shall we. A trip to the vets brings enough weight of fear on our families, lets not add anymore to it especially regarding a band that isnt effective. Bill 16 for 3rd reading!

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