1042, ASSEMBLY, Alsatian Dogs Bill
The Hon. G. E. JENKINS (Burra Burra) — I trust members will give this Bill the serious consideration which its importance demands. It has been described by the manager of one of the biggest pastoral companies in Adelaide as the most important piece of legislation which has come before Parliament this session. It is interesting to watch the efforts which have been made to induce Governments to realise the importance of legislation of this nature and the necessity for taking some steps to protect the interests of the most important industry in the Commonwealth—the pastoral industry. That industry returns more wealth to Australia than any other industry, and consequently any pest which may be considered a menace to it has to be dealt with very seriously by the Parliaments in the different States and the Commonwealth Government. Referring to the early efforts made by the Graziers' Association of Australia, the Graziers' Federal Council met on June 20, 1927, and a resolution was carried to the effect that the Commonwealth authorities be requested to prohibit the importation or breeding of Alsatian dogs. That council is composed of delegates from every Stockowners' or Graziers' Association in Australia. The resolution was sent to the Federal Government, which, however, did not act at that period, but obtained a report from Dr. Robertson, a veterinary officer. He reported adversely on the motion. What experience he had to justify the commonwealth Government reposing so much confidence in him I cannot say. In the following year, at the conference of the Graziers' Federal Council, the following further resolution was carried:—
That this Graziers' Federal Council of Australia, representing practically the whole of the graziers of Australia, views with much concern the increase of the Alsatian dogs in Australia, and as a preliminary step towards their eradication, makes further representation to the Federal Government with the view of their being prohibited entry into the Commonwealth.
All federated associations were asked to sup¬port the resolution. As a result of those re¬presentations to the Commonwealth Government, that Government issued a proclamation prohibiting the importation of Alsatians into Australia for a period of five years from May 15, 1929, except with the consent of the Minister of Customs. That period expired in May last, and the Government has since continued the ban.
Mr. Dunks—Did the Government give a reason for the ban?
The Hon. G. F. JENKINS—Obviously the Government was satisfied that the dogs were a menace to Australia. The proclamation pro¬hibiting the importation was published in the "Commonwealth Gazette" of June 30, 1928.
Mr. Rudall—Has the consent of the Minister ever been given?
The Hon. G, F. JENKINS—I have no know¬ledge that consent has been given since that date. Following on that, and owing to further representations made by the Graziers' Association of Australia on behalf of the Northern Territory Leaseholders' Association, which was becoming alarmed because certain people in the Northern Territory were taking Alsatian dogs into that territory, and because of the danger of dogs crossing with dingoes and becoming a menace to the cattle industry in the Territory, a proclamation was issued by the Commonwealth Government an May 16, 1934, prohibiting the importation of Alsatian dogs into the Northern Territory from any of the other States of the Commonwealth or outside the Commonwealth, and further prohibiting the breeding of such dogs within the Territory. That proves conclusively that the Commonwealth Government has played its part in the protection of the industry which I am asking the House to safeguard by this legislation. The Commonwealth has thrown the obligation on the States concerned to deal with those dogs already within our territories. I have no doubt that, had the Commonwealth Government had the power to deal with dogs in Australia, it would have done so. It did not have that power, and the Commonwealth having gone that far, it devolves upon the States which have not already done so to take upon themselves the necessary power to deal with Alsatians.
Mr. Rudall—It is not an absolute prohibition if the Federal Minister can give his consent.
The Hon. G. J. JENKINS—It is not an absolute prohibition, but it is absolute so far as the Commonwealth Government can make it unless an Act is passed which, of course, could be revoked by a succeeding Parliament. The action taken by the Commonwealth Government will be absolute so long as the present Government or any other Government, which believes that the dogs are a pest, remains in power. Let us see what the other States have done in regard to this matter. Western Australia passed legislation in 1929 providing for the sterilization of all Alsatian dogs in that State. Combined with the prohibition of importation which the Commonwealth has insisted upon, no Alsatian dogs are now allowed to enter or breed in Western Australia.
Mr. Dunks—Have you particulars of the debates in Western Australia?
The Hon. G. F. JENKINS—I have the re¬port of the Select Committee which dealt with this question in Western Australia, and I in¬tend to quote some extracts from that report. The Tasmanian Government introduced a mea¬sure with the same object in view, and it was defeated by only one vote. They have no dingoes at present in Tasmania, and the danger there is not so great as it is on the mainland. In Queensland they impose specially high registration fees for Alsatians. In New South Wales there is a Bill before the House at present under which they propose to pass substantially the same legislation as that in operation in Western Australia, and which I propose under this measure, except that in New South Wales it is proposed to exempt County Cumber¬land from the provisions of the Bill as that is substantially the metropolitan area. In New South Wales the administration of the Act will be in the hands of the Pasture Protection Board, an institution of which we have no parallel in South Australia. There is no State in which the menace could be greater than in South Australia. We have a greater area of unoccupied country than any other State in the Commonwealth, except Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
Mr. Rudall—But we have not dingoes all over South Australia.
The Hon. G. F. JENKINS—Dingoes are scattered widely over South Australia even at present. The main breeding ground for them is in that territory lying towards the Musgrave and Everard Ranges, and the far north-east of South Australia, but there are dingoes still in the north-eastern pastoral country along the Broken Hill railway line, and even in the south¬east of the State. In the Gippsland country and various parts of Victoria abutting the South Australian border there are still many dingoes, and the Box Flat Vermin Board has been formed to fight against them in the country adjacent to the Victorian border, south of Pinnaroo.
Mr. Rudall—How many dingoes have been killed in the South-East?
The Hon. G. F. JENKINS—I cannot say offhand, but I know that the Box Flat Vermin Board keeps a man permanently employed in killing dingoes, unless it has recently discontinued that practice. Before proceeding to read from the report of the Select Committee in Western Australia, I wish to give some information as to what transpired at a conference of Ministers of Agriculture in June, 1929. The Hon. J. Cowan, who represented South Australia, brought up the question of the prohibition of the importation of Alsatian dogs. That was supported by every Minister present. After they had spoken, the Hon. J. Pennington, who was Minister of Agriculture in Victoria, and chairman of the conference, made the fol¬lowing statement: —
I may say I have had an experience that I would not wish to see befall any other member of the conference. It was in connection with the Alsatian wolf hound, as it is called.
Mr. Dunks—Is that the right name for it?
The Hon. G. F. JENKINS—I do not know because the sponsors of this dog change its name from time to time in order, I think, to catch people's fancy.
Mr. Dunks—It is termed "sheep dog'' in England.
The Hon. G. F. JENKINS—Yes, but when it was introduced into England it would have been unpopular to call it a German sheep dog, so it was called an Alsatian.
Mr. Lacey—Are you calling it a wolf hound because it serves your purpose?
The Hon. G. F. JENKINS—The statement referred to continues:—
My daughter was presented with one of those Wolf hounds in 1926. It was presented to her by a lady in London, who sent it out here free of expense. I took possession of it in November 1926, and took it home. In April of the following year I very nearly lost my daughter through an attack made on her by that dog. It attacked her without any warning and ripped her from ear to ear; 11 stitches had to be inserted in the wound by the doctor. It also put its teeth through her right breast, also through her right shoulder and through her left leg. She never got over that shock for 12 months and even, to-day it takes very little to excite her. For weeks and weeks it was very doubtful whether we were going to save her at all and for close on nine months the doctor warned me he was afraid of permanent melancholia in her case. You can therefore judge my feelings in regard to the Alsatian dog. It is a one-man dog, that is about all it is. The Alsatians are intelligent dogs, there is no doubt about that; but only one man should handle a particular dog and he should be master of that dog. If there is any good about it, all I can say is, give them a wide berth, because the wolf instinct is there and they are on the go moving about from morning until night; they cannot rest.
That is testimony by a gentleman who occupied the position of Minister of Agriculture in Victoria. The dog was a pet of his own daughter. She had been accustomed to feeding it during the few months that she had had it, but she had been away for a short holiday and on her return the dog savagely attacked her in this manner. I have another report of an attack by one of these dogs. The following appeared in ''The News' ' on Saturday, June 13, 1934:—
After having savagely attacked two girls who were playing in front of their homes at Highgate last night an Alsatian dog was destroyed to-day at the request of its owner. The girls, Betty Brown, aged nine, and Norma Bennett, aged eight, were rescued from the jaws of the animal by two men, who rushed out from their gardens. A report of the incident has been made to the Parkside police. Only the timely intervention of Mr. J. Johns, of North Terrace, Highgate, prevented serious injury to Betty, who lives at his home as his adopted daughter. When he separated the dog from the child, the Alsatian attacked Norma, who had been standing near during the straggle. Mr. Johns said to-day that he was watering his front garden about 7.45 p.m. when his attention was attracted by the barking of an Alsatian dog, which had rushed from the back of a nearby house. Betty, Norma, and some other children were playing on the footpath in front of his home. "The dog, after racing up and down inside the fence four or five times, suddenly jumped over, and in about three leaps was across the street, '' said Mr. Johns. "It grabbed Betty first, biting her on the back. I dashed out on to the footpath and pulled her away. While I was getting her inside the dog grabbed Norma. Mr. D. Hawker, a neighbour, realising her danger, caught hold of the girl, and threw her inside his garden to safety.'' Betty was the more seriously hurt, and the lower part of her back was bruised. Both girls have teethmarks to show for the occurrence. Mrs. Johns said that the shrieks of the girls could be heard in Winchester street, about two streets away. Betty had received a severe shock, and had scarcely any sleep last night.
I have innumerable reports of more or less a similar nature, but it is unnecessary to recount them all. I have given those two illustrations because they are properly authenticated cases of attacks by these dogs—in the one case upon children, and in the other upon a grown-up young woman who was herself the attendant of the dog and to whom it was supposed to be personally attached. Both statements show that there is some justification in the claim that there is a danger to South Australia in allow¬ing these dogs, not only to breed indiscriminately, but to get into the hands of people who will not take proper care of them.
Mr. Dale—They are not as dangerous as the half-bred greyhound.
The Hon. G. F. JENKINS—The honourable member is entitled to his opinion, but if he were engaged in the business of raising sheep outback and thought that there was a danger of a big wolf-like dog getting out amongst the dingoes and cross breeding, he would take a very different view, and would realise that those men who are fighting in the outback areas of South Australia to enable this State to maintain its pastoral production, are waging continual war against pests that have been introduced into the State.
Mr. Dale—I have seen an Alsatian dog chase a fox right through a flock of sheep.
The Hon. G. F. JENKINS—I have no doubt about that. If an Alsatian dog were chasing anything else at the moment he would go right through a flock. Whether it were man or beast, once he had decided on his quarry he would chase it anywhere. No doubt Mr. Dale has seen foxhounds following a scent. When doing that they will go right through a flock of sheep.
Mr. Dale—Surely the honourable member would be in favour of breeding dogs to kill foxes, which are a greater menace than Alsatians?
The Hon. G. F. JENKINS—There are many other ways of killing foxes than by means of Alsatian dogs. I want to know what the Alsatians are going to feed on when they have cleaned up the foxes. That is what concerns us. The foxes are another imported pest which we should have been wise enough to take action against to prevent their introduction. It was only because people of the same type as those who support Alsatians desired to get more sport for themselves, that the fox was introduced here.
Mr. Dale—It was members of your party who introduced the fox.
The Hon. G. F. JENKINS—I am not saying who brought them here. This Parliament should have learned its lesson from the experience of the past with introduced pests, and should not take too many risks with another pest of which we have had ample evidence.
Mr. Dunks—Has the honourable member evidence of the menace of the Alsatian in the sheep country?
The Hon. G. F. JENKINS—In the mass of literature which has been supplied me there is ample evidence of the serious menace they are in the sheep country, apart from the question of their cross breeding. The life of the men outback is one continuous war against the dingo. A vermin fence which will keep out a dingo would not keep out a crossbred Alsatian. It is interesting to know, too, that there are some persons engaged in dogging in the Musgrave Ranges and elsewhere who have even thought it expedient to take Alsatian dogs out there to cross breed with the dingoes in order to make the scalps of enhanced value. There are men living in the back blocks prepared to take Alsatians there in order to crossbreed them with dingoes. Mr. J. E. Pick, of Coondambo Station, who was formerly a member of this House, said he met a man with a truck a few months ago. He had with him a puppy. Mr. Pick asked him what sort it was, and he said "An Alsatian." On being asked what he was going to do with it the man replied that he was taking it to the Mus¬grave Ranges to crossbreed with dingoes so that the scalps would be worth more than the 7s. 6d. each then being paid for them.
Mr. Dale—That's a nice thing to put over.
The Hon. G. F. JENKINS—Mr. Pick said: ''This one will not get out to the Musgrave Ranges,'' and killed the animal there and then. I have quoted this instance to show that men grappling with pests are prepared to go to any length in order to prevent the menace of such animals getting into the back country. I quote the following letter from Mr. J. E. Pick, Coondambo Station, dated September 6, 1934:—
THE MENACE OF THE ALSATIAN.
The statement by Mr. R. T. Melrose published in the "Advertiser" of August 29, concerning the menace of the Alsatian dog is worthy of the earnest consideration of every member of Parliament in South Australia. The results following the probable crossing of the Alsatian with the dingo would be much too serious to be lightly discounted for the purpose of preserving a domestic pet. Graziers on the country outside Goyder's Line have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds in erecting dog proof fences to keep out the dingoes, and this money would be practically wasted if the Alsatian were allowed to cross with the wild dogs which today are plentiful outside the vermin proof fences. That there is a real danger of this dog crossing with the dingo there can be no doubt as only a few months ago I saw a man who was taking an Alsatian pup out to the Musgrave Ranges for the purpose of crossing him with the dingoes ''to improve the breed of the dog so that scalps would be worth more than 7s. 6d.'' The very qualities claimed for the Alsatian by his admirers—size, courage, and intelligence—are the characteristics which make him a real danger to the pastoralist in outside areas. I am glad to see that a deputation from the Alsatian Defence League which waited on the Minister of Agriculture on Monday last agrees to some measure of control, and suggests that the dogs should be banned beyond Port Augusta. Why go as fax as Port Augusta? There are wild dogs in the country south of the Broken Hill railway line and the Alsatian would be as great a menace there as in the North or North-West. Alsatians should be prohibited or, failing that, be confined to the metropolitan area.
I will also quote some of the evidence given before the Select Committee on the Alsatian Dog Bill which sat in Western Australia in June 1929. It is of particular interest at present because that Committee took evidence not only from Alsatian breeders, but also from graziers, members (of the Royal Agricultural Society, and various other persons interested in the question. Mr. John Robertson, secretary of the Western Australian Canine Association, was examined, and I quote the following from his evidence:—
By Mr. Lindsay—
5. Did your association issue a circular that I received and which has been handed to the Chairman?—Yes.
6. Did you appoint a committee to carry out certain investigations?—Yes.
7. Was the committee asked to make inquiries under the following headings:-—
(1) Whether the Alsatian dog is a menace to the pastoral industry:
(2) To collect data regarding the merits, habits, and general use (if any) of cultivating the Alsatian dog in Australia:
(3) To state whether the Alsatian dog should be prohibited by the Commonwealth authorities from entering Australia.
14 What were the findings?—The finding regarding the first question was as follows—The long list of convictions registered against the Alsatian wolf dogs throughout Great Britain as ruthless sheep killers constitutes them a menace to pastoral pursuits in Australia or any other country.
Regarding the experience in Great Britain, you have probably seen extracts from time to time that have been published in the local press. Notwithstanding all the denials that are made, those extracts furnish quite sufficient evidence, because they are essentially true. Many people have had to dispose of their Alsatians because of the depredations of the dogs and their attacks upon human beings. They will certainly become a menace to pastoral pursuits in Australia, because, in the first place their nature has been bred, down from the early ancestry with the wolf. They have naturally, therefore, a propensity for killing and for asserting their wild nature. If the Alsatians are allowed to go loose here and stray, as they inevitably will, they will cross with the dingoes and form packs. In a short time they will make themselves felt as killers.
24. Your committee also found that the Alsatian wolf dog should be prohibited from enter¬ing Australia because of the grave danger that would accrue from the inevitable promiscuous matings and the resultant mongrel type dog which such matings would let loose in our vast unprotected areas and stock running country. That again is the considered opinion of your committee?—Yes.
That was the report brought in by the committee appointed by the Western Australian Canine Association. On page 12 of the report some evidence was given as to the origin of the Alsatian, dog, and I quote this because it shows what extraordinary statements these people are prepared to make to bolster up their case. They state that there is no wolf blood in the Alsatian. At question 148, Mr. Teesdale asked Mr. W. E. Snowden, President of the Western Australian Shepherd Club:—
What verification have you of the correctness of the translation of a book printed by a man named Stephanitz, and how do you know that what you have read is a correct translation ?
The reply was;—
I do, because some considerable time ago my brother got that passage translated through Mr. Shapcott, Secretary to the Premier. . . .
I produce for the first time the family tree of the Alsatian, which is accepted as absolutely authentic. For the first time we get in an English translation the accurate family tree of the Alsatian going back to 9000 years B.C.
That fantastic statement was the considered evidence given by this man who was the biggest breeder of Alsatian dogs in Western Australia. I also quote the following:—
Question 149—Who kept the records 9,000 years ago?—If the committee will not accept the results of researches made by the Universities of the world, I do not know what you will accept. I submit this pedigree must be accepted. It has been proved that there has been no wolf cross for the last 4,000 years.
At page 13 of the report Mr. W. J. Ashton, secretary of the Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia was examined. In answer to questions 159 and 160 by the Chairman, he said:—
In 1928 the council discussed the question and forwarded to the Federal Government a request to ban the introduction of the Alsatian into Australia. Prior to that the council had communicated with the State Minister for Agriculture and had been given to understand that the State Government had no control over the introduction of the Alsatian into the Commonwealth. Affiliated with the Royal Agricultural Society are approximately 74 agricultural societies covering the whole of the settled portion of the State, practically, from Northamp¬ton to Salmon Gums. At the annual conference of these societies in August of last year a motion was submitted by one of the country societies to the effect that the Government be asked to sterilise all Alsatian dogs. The motion was carried unanimously.
160. Was there no opposition at all?—None. One of our vice-presidents, Mr. Robert Carroll, did cross the Alsatian with the kelpie, and he reported to us that while this was only a pup, at every chance it had of getting loose it straight away killed a sheep, and that it had become so disastrous to him as a sheep man that he destroyed it. That is the only evidence of the Alsatian being tried as a shepherd dog in Western Australia.
Mr. Dunks—Are there not some people who assert that the Alsatian is a sheep dog?
The Hon. G. F. JENKINS—It has been claimed in South Australia and elsewhere that it is a sheep dog, but I defy honourable members to cite a single instance where this so-called wonderful sheep dog has been entered for any of our sheep dog trials or competitions in South Australia and has been successful.
If the persons who make such statements can bring forward evidence showing that an Alsatian has been successful at a sheep dog trial or competition anywhere in Australia they will be bringing forward some evidence worth while in support of the Alsatian. I also quote the following letter from Mr. W. H. Sheridan, of Broomhill, G.S.R., Western Australia, dated April 29, 1929, to the secretary of the Western Australian Merino Studbreeders' Association: —
Yours of the 15th instant to Mrs. K. Sheridan has been handed to me. I owned a purebred Alsatian bitch and a Kelpie-Alsatian cross dog. They caused me much anxiety while I had them. If the two got off the chain together, which they managed more than once, they would be sure to disappear for many hours, and on one occasion killed and mauled a number of our own sheep. They were then only starting, as they were both young dogs. Fearing what might happen, and being sure something serious would sooner or later, I shot the bitch. The dog got many a hiding for mauling sheep around the homestead. I thought to cure him. In the end he cleared out one night after slipping the chain with a little kelpie sheep dog, which was herself harmless. They were away for a couple of days or more and went many miles and killed sheep on four different properties. They were caught in the act, the Alsatian cross doing the killing, which he did in a most ferocious manner, tearing the sheep to pieces. A neighbour coaxed the kelpie to him and killed her, after which the dog made for home, where I was waiting, and ended his days with a bullet.
Mr. Connor—They have actually put the Act into operation in Western Australia.
The Hon. G. F. JENKINS—Yes, and it is only a matter of time when Alsatians will be extinct in that State. During the first year there was some difficulty in connection with administration, as would be expected, but the Act is now working quite smoothly. A circular was sent to members of this House by the Alsatian Defence League of South Australia, in which certain questions and answers are given. Question 3 asked whether the Alsatian has any wolf blood in his veins. The reply was:—
In the light of the foregoing, it is obvious that there is no wolf blood in the breed. From time to time breeders with twisted minds have attempted to cross the dog with the wolf, thinking to make greater sales from credulous fools. The wolf, being the sexually stronger in the very few successful matings, always predominated in the progeny, but the obvious bio-logical result was that these were sterile, and so wolf or lupus blood could not flow with dog or canine blood. Such great authorities as Darwin and Mendel have successfully demonstrated the impossibility of crossing species and perpetuating the strain. The more familiar corollary is the cross between the donkey and the horse producing the sterile mule.
The correctness of that answer has been seriously disputed if not completely knocked out by the experience in our Adelaide Zoo, where a wolf dog was crossed with a dingo bitch. A litter was the result and the progeny of that cross bred again, therefore the theory has been exploded in our own State. The following is an extract from "The Alsatian Wolf Dog" by George Horowitz:—
It is quite possible that we shall see, anon, that Alsatians were crossed with wolves, but, naturally the fanciers concerned in such practices kept them secret. That certain strains of Alsatians do contain, wolf blood can be taken for granted, if only on the authority of such a great expert of the breed as Monsieur Otto Rahm, Switzerland, who has told us that the great granddam of the well-known Hector Von Wohlen was the product of a mating be¬tween a wolf dog and an Alsatian bitch. Captain von Stephanitz, the President of the world famous Verein fuer Deutsch Schaeferhund (German Sheepdog Club) and author of that notable work ''Der Deutsche Schaeferhund in Wort and Bild'' (the German Sheep dog Illustrated) asserts, however, that the much dis¬cussed cross between wolves and Alsatians has taken place a long time before the occurrence mentioned by Monsieur Otto Rahm, and that the granddam of Hector von Wohlen, whose name was Mores-Plieningen, has a great grandsire who was the result of a cross between a wolf and an Alsatian at the Stuttgart Zoological Gardens about the year 1881.
He is recognised as an authority on this breed. I have also the following extract from ''Watchdogs'' by Lieutenant-Colonel E. H. Richardson, a breeder of dogs for the British Army and police:—
For many generations this wolf-like dog had been used by the shepherds of Germany for guarding the sheep. The dogs of south Ger¬many were of the larger size than those in the north, and one or two German breeders thought that by crossing the two types they could get even larger and stronger dogs. The shepherd dog had always been crossed every now and then with wolves to keep them fierce, and now that the large, strong dog was purposely manufactured by expert breeders, it was again thought advisable to bring in a strain of wolf once more, to ensure the character, and several of the first dogs registered in the ''Deutschershaferhund Verein" (German Sheepdog Club) were half wolf. This accounts for the curious character of the breed—the mixture of timidity and ferocity which lurks in so many of these dogs . . .
In all wild beasts there is a certain furtiveness which is very difficult to overcome and this is noticeable at once in the progeny on any domesticated animal which may become crossed in such a way.
I do not think it is necessary to quote any further evidence of the fact that these dogs have crossed with wolves at times and, as a consequence, it is that wolf blood in then which makes them so great a menace and so unreliable. Evidence was given before the Committee by Mr. E. A. Le Souef, Director of the Perth Zoological Gardens, and the following is an extract;—
182. Can you express an opinion as to the value of the Alsatian?—I have never owned one myself. The Alsatian is a very ancient breed of dog, and as a dog it is one of the finest in the world. In my opinion how-ever there is grave danger to be feared from Alsatians and I have seen certain of them that have shown distinct signs of the wolf strain. It has been proved that the wolf and the Alsatian will interbreed and that they are fertile.
184. Have you any Alsatians in the zoo? —No, I have seen them at shows and I know that from the standpoint of strength and intelligence they are wonderful dogs. I refer to the best of them. If those dogs were to get away and breed in the bush, no dog in the world could catch them and they would be too cunning to take poison. Then again those that were the best in captivity would be the worst if they got loose. They could not be caught and they would be killers. I have known a half bred kangaroo dog pull down and kill a three year old horse. From the stand-point of intelligence the kangaroo dog cannot compare with the Alsatian; he has no brains.
185. Are you satisfied that the Alsatian has the wolf strain?—Yes in certain dogs that I have seen. Many years ago I bred from a wolf in the Melbourne Zoo. We had a black wolf bitch and she was crossed with a wolf and later on with Esquimau dogs which were half breds from the wolf and showed great strength. We also had huskies that we used in an Antarctic expedition and they had wolf blood in them.
186. Do you consider the Alsatian a menace to the pastoral industry'?—I am sorry to say that I do. They have such brain power that once they got into the bush and bred litters I do not see how they could be caught.
187. But that is merely supposition on your part?—Yes.
188. Would that apply to any other bred of dog to the same degree?—I have known a big kangaroo bitch to get away with her half bred dingo pups, but then, as I have indicated, the kangaroo dog has no brains. They have the will, but not the brain power to be bad as an Alsatian could be.
189. You consider that the Government would be quite right in sterilising them?—Yes, quite right.
193. It has been stated that the wolf is a lupine and the Alsatian a canine, and therefore it would be impossible for the progeny to be other than a mule?—There are 14 or 15 different breeds of wolves, and Dr. Hunter, who was a celebrated man, crossed them in the early eighties and found that the progeny were fertile and not mules.
Those are opinions by an undoubted authority and we cannot afford to overlook them. At the conclusion of the evidence the Chairman indicated that he had received two letters and, as both had been witnessed by justices, he desired to know whether the Committee wished them to be embodied in the evidence. It was resolved that that should be done, and the following is one of the letters;—
Miling, via Toodyay, November 8, 1929.
To the Chairman of Select Committee appointed to inquire into the provisions of the Alsatian Dog Bill.
Dear Sir—Owing to my inability to appeal before you to relate my experience of the Alsatian dog, I beg to submit this written statement of my experience and opinion derived therefrom. In October, 1928, I purchased an Alsatian dog puppy from Mr. C. H. Snowden at a cost of £12 12s. The puppy was then about 11 weeks old. Being engaged in mixed farming here, with 500 or 600 sheep always on hand, I expected to be able to train the Alsa¬tian to be a useful sheep dog. But although I kept him in contact with sheep for a period of from seven to eight months, at the end of that time he was an absolute failure. Any ordinary kangaroo dog would have done better. As a playmate to my children the dog was a great success up to about the last month of its existence, when signs of its nasty, treacherous, savage nature became apparent even with them. The climax was reached when the dog, while playing with my boy, aged 7 years, behind my back, suddenly gave a horrible snarl and flew at the boy, leaving marks of his teeth on the boy's face. I hesitate to think of the consequences had he caught the boy by the throat. I might explain that there was no form of excuse for the dog's action, as the boy was not teasing or hurting the brute; as a matter of fact the boy had one end of a piece of string and the dog had the other end in its mouth, and they appeared quite happy. The dog immediately cleared out, and would not return to me when called, well knowing apparently that it had done wrong, but in my opinion it was just another instance of the wolf taking possession of the dog. I would not have risked giving the brute another chance after that for any consideration, because I had known for some time before that he was hardly safe, so I destroyed him and felt greatly relieved when he was out of the way. In deciding to get an Alsatian I was largely influenced by a desire to prove for myself whether there were any good grounds for the very bad character ascribed to them by many writers in the press. The breed, as represented by my dog, is the strangest mixture of the cowardly cur and the ripping, tearing, man-eating wolf that it is possible to imagine. My honest opinion is that they are more wolf than dog, and are born killers, their great size and power¬ful build making them a grave danger to human beings. In conclusion let me say that I sincerely hope that the Alsatian wolf hound, of Alsatian shepherd dog, whichever may be its true name, will be absolutely wiped out throughout the Commonwealth. We have a far better and more suitable clog in the kelpie, as even apart from other reasons, the Alsatian would be no use in a hot climate.—Yours faithfully, (signed) P. J. ARKELL. (Signed by Percy James Arkell this 8th day of November, 1929, before me—A. H. RICHARDSON, J.P.).
Mr. Rudall—Did he buy the dog for the purpose of experimenting on his children?
The Hon. G. F. JENKINS—No.
Mr. Dale—He paid £12 12s. for the dog in order to get practical experience.
The Hon. G. F. JENKINS—That argument does not concern us. I am simply reading extracts from the evidence of witnesses before the Select Committee in Western Australia. I wish to quote a letter which was submitting to that Committee, as follows:—
I wish to confirm my letter to the secretary of the board that I tried a crossbred Alsatian kelpie dog in working sheep, but it was an utter failure and resulted in my destroying the animal. Further I have never seen an Alsatian dog working sheep nor have I heard of anyone else meeting with any success in this direction. Yours truly, (Sgnd.) ROBT. CARROLL. Witness: H. J. ROBERTS, J.P.
Those are but a few extracts from a report of the Select Committee appointed by the Western Australian Parliament to inquire into this matter.
Mr. Dunks—Has the honourable member ever heard of, or seen, an Alsatian working sheep in South Australia?
The Hon. G. F. JENKINS—I have never heard of it.
Mr. Lacey—During a heat wave one Alsatian and three other dogs were working sheep near Crystal Brook and at the end of the day the Alsatian was the only one standing up.
The Hon. G. F. JENKINS—It is easy to make a statement of that kind, but the fact remains that not in one single instance has an Alsatian been, entered in a sheepdog trial against the Australian kelpie and other breeds of sheepdog.
Mr. Dale—Has the honourable member seen a dingo working sheep?
The Hon. G. F. JENKINS—No, and I do not believe, from what I know of the dingo from experience, that it is reasonably possible to do it. I would not say it is utterly impossible, because I have known of dingoes which have been tamed. I remember one instance which occurred when I was a boy at Terowie. The local doctor caught a dingo pup and reared it, and it was a great pet of his wife. The moment that dog, after it was grown, got away it went straight to the nearest flock of sheep and there was serious trouble. It cost the doctor well over £50 in damages. Robert Kaleski in a book entitled ''Australian Barkers and Biters" quotes various articles and letters which he has written to the press in New South Wales urging that these dogs should not be allowed to come into use. One is as follows: —
If these brutes are allowed to "go bush,'' they will become a greater pest than rabbits, foxes, or prickly pear. Crossed with the dingo, they will become dangerous to human life and merciless killers of cattle and sheep.
It is not only a question of danger to sheep, but to cattle. Only last week a report was published in the Queensland press that an Alsatian was destroyed whilst killing cattle, and that the owner, who was a well-known doctor, sued the man who destroyed the dog for £100 damages. The owner of the cattle immediately thanked him for giving proof of ownership and sued the doctor for damages for the cattle destroyed. The result has not yet appeared in the press, but I ascertained yesterday, by telegram from Queensland, that the court awarded £70 damages against the doctor in respect of 20 cattle killed by the dog.
Mr. Dale—Little calves, I suppose.
The Hon. G. F. JENKINS—I do not know the ages of the cattle. If this House wants more evidence of the danger of these dogs going bush in Australia, and what will happen as a result, it will not be difficult for me to adduce it. I wish to quote another extract from the book which I have mentioned. On page 214 the writer reproduces a copy of a statutory declaration by A. G. Herbert, a Government trapper of Western Australia, as follows:—
(1) I am employed by the State Vermin Board as a trapper, and have been so employed for the past 2½ years. I have been trapping altogether for 15 years. During this time I have trapped hundreds of dingoes.
(2) I know the Alsatian dog well. I would describe its main characteristics as follows: — Big, rough-haired dog, powerfully built, prick ears, black muzzled, with bushy tail frequently with white tip, a wolf type with a bold, intelligent eye ; mostly slate-grey coat.
(3) In July, 1931, I was trapping in the Mount Marshall district, and one day found a large dog dead in one of my traps, I recognised it as an Alsatian dog. It was unsterilised, and had no collar.
(4) I scalped the dog and took the scalp into the Mount Marshall Vermin Board, where it was definitely established as belonging to an Alsatian, by the members of the board.
(5) Upon inquires being made, it was ascertained that a purebred Alsatian dog owned by one Eric McManus, of Mount Marshall, had disappeared from its home some 18 months previously.
(6) Upon my approaching McManus he admitted to me and to the late Cowan James Craig, the then Chief Inspector of Vermin, that the dog which I had trapped was his (McManus's) Alsatian. He told us that he had bought this one from Snowden, of Perth, an importer of Alsatians, and that it was a pedigreed dog.
(7) A fortnight later, within a mile of the place where I trapped the Alsatian dog, I trapped a dingo slut with three pups. The slut was a pure dingo, but the pups were distinctly an Alsatian cross with a dingo. They would be about 12 weeks old.
(8) I base my opinion on the following facts:—The pups were a good deal larger than dingo pups of the same age. They were of a slate-grey colour with a very dark muzzle, and in general appearance very much more like an Alsatian than a dingo.
(9) I took their scalps to Mount Marshall Vermin Board, who unanimously confirmed my opinion as to their breeding.
(Signed) A. G. HERBERT.
Declared at Perth, this 19th day of July, 1933, before me.
(Signed) H. A. WHITE,
Commissioner for Declarations.
There is also evidence in South Australia. Half-breed pups were caught on Willipa Station, the result of a cross between an Alsatian and dingo. The following statement .appeared in Rufus's column in the ''Advertiser," some time ago;—
ALSATIAN DINGO CROSS TRAPPED.
Mr. Fred Tennant showed me yesterday two beautiful rugs, made from the skins of half-bred wild dogs, trapped on Willipa Station, in the Flinders Range, north-east of Waukaringa. The mother of these dogs was an Alsatian bitch, which had roamed away from an upper north town. She was poisoned within a mile of the scene where her offspring were trapped. The Alsatian fur markings are very pronounced, and one, which must have been on a huge dog, is much darker than the other. It is the largest wild dog skin I have ever seen.
That is sufficient evidence of the fact that these dogs will cross if they get the opportunity, and of their danger. In conclusion, I wish to say that Australia has paid dearly for allowing pests to be introduced into this country. No one can estimate the immense sum of money that the introduction of the rabbit has cost the Commonwealth. It could not be computed in millions, but it would run into hundreds of millions of pounds. Foxes and other pests which have been introduced and which we in the pastoral country are suffering from to-day—
Mr. Rudall—Nearly all the pests have been introduced.
The Hon. G. F. JENKINS—That is so. Some excuse may be found for the people who allowed those pests to come in years ago, because of their lack of experience and because they had not been warned of the danger, but no excuse could be advanced to-day if we refuse to heed the warnings that we have in respect of the menace with which I am dealing. I could quote numerous articles from the "Californian Woolgrower" regarding attacks upon sheep in that country. In Norway no Alsatian is permitted to be owned by a private person. Are we going to take heed of these warnings? That is what I ask the House to decide; also, whether it intends to place the interests of a few breeders of fancy dogs before the interests of the people who are producing the wealth that keeps this country going. If this House is prepared to treat lightly the evidence before it—and much more is obtainable—it must take the responsibility, but I am sure that the time will come when Australia will recognise that those who are trying to prevent the introduction, or dissemination, of another pest throughout the pastoral areas of Australia are doing some¬thing in the interest of the country. I move the second reading and commend the Bill to the favourable consideration of members.
Mr. PETHERICK secured the adjournment of the debate.