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Dog attack prompts coordinated action

Switzerland is considering measures against Pitbull terriers


The Swiss authorities say they will come up with a set of nationwide measures by the end of next month in a bid to prevent further attacks by dangerous dogs.

The pledge comes after a six-year-old boy was mauled to death by three Pitbull terriers near Zurich last week.

On Monday the Federal Veterinary Office said the country's 26 cantons and the federal authorities had agreed to introduce joint regulations swiftly.

A series of measures were necessary, including rules on the import and breeding of dogs, said a statement.

It added that special attention ought to be given to how the cantonal veterinary services could ensure prompt implementation of the regulations.

In Switzerland each canton is responsible for setting laws to control dog ownership.

According to Hans Wyss, head of the Veterinary Office, the talks centred on plans for a mandatory database on owners of dangerous dogs, as well as an outright ban on certain breeds of animals.

Last week Economics Minister Joseph Deiss ordered the federal veterinary authorities - which he oversees - to consider new laws on dangerous dogs.

Regional differences

A first meeting between representatives from several government ministries, the cantons as well as veterinary and dog owner associations is planned in the next few days, officials said.

Under regulations approved last year, dogs in Switzerland have to be tagged with a microchip or tattooed by the end of 2006.

The office also said that the federal authorities would be given increased powers to define the rules for dog breeders and owners, as part of an amended law to be endorsed by parliament later this month.

Several cantons have already introduced - or are soon going to do so - legislation in line with government recommendations published five years ago.

The three Pitbull terriers involved in last week's fatal incident at Oberglatt, a suburb of Zurich, were put down.

The owner of the dogs and his girlfriend, who let the animals escape from a friend's apartment, are being investigated for negligent manslaughter, along with the owner of the flat.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The fatal attack of three Pitbull terriers against a six-year-old boy has sparked renewed debate about a law on dangerous dogs.

Under Swiss legislation each of the country's 26 cantons is responsible for setting laws to control dog ownership.

Each year, around 13,000 people in Switzerland are bitten by a dog and need medical treatment.

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