http://www.goldcoast.com.au/article/201 ... -news.html
Dog DNA proves Coast council wrong
Melinda Marshall | July 15th, 2010
Rangi Nikau and her children Deaze and Shylah Waikai await the return their dogs Whero and Mau which were seized by the Gold Coast City Council when it was thought they were pit bulls Picture: MICHAEL ROSS
A PUSH is on to use DNA testing to identify dangerous dog breeds after testing found two Gold Coast dogs on death row were not a restricted breed.
A Coomera family has been torn apart after the Gold Coast City Council identified their dogs as outlawed American pit bulls.
Rangi Nikau and her children were supposed to join husband and father Mete Waikai in Melbourne last month after the construction worker moved there to find work.
But they have stayed on the Coast while they wait to find out if their dogs, Whero and Mau, would be destroyed.
The council seized the dogs on May 19 and ordered them to be destroyed.
The family appealed against the decision and last week lodged DNA tests conducted by a private company to support their case.
The $299 tests by the Melbourne lab revealed that Whero was a golden retriever/Boston terrier cross and Mau was a Staffordshire bull terrier/boxer cross, which are both legal crossbreeds.
Ms Nikau said the council should have to conduct DNA tests before seizing a dog, rather than relying on the 22-point visual marker test used to identify pit bulls.
"I felt deceived that they could just look at a dog and say that's an American pit bull without having any evidentiary support or documentation," she said.
She said the dogs were seized after neighbours rang the council when Mau got loose, but she said neither dog had ever attacked anyone.
Her children, Shylah, 9, and Deaze, 5, should have been starting the second semester of the school year in Melbourne, but instead have returned to their Gold Coast school.
"My two kids are asking me, 'Mum where are the dogs?' And I tell them they've just gone on a holiday," she said.
She said it was depressing to see the dogs locked up at the Coombabah pound, where she has visited them almost daily.
"I don't know if the council realise that dogs aren't dogs to us, they're more our family," she said.
A council spokesman confirmed the DNA tests had been received and the case would be processed within a fortnight.
The council's animal management boss Bob La Castra backed DNA testing in principle.
"I think there's a strong argument for us doing DNA tests because that's the only way to be 100 per cent sure," he said.
"Unless there's a reason why we shouldn't, then that should be looked at very seriously."
He said there could be a case for compensation.
"If we find that the DNA testing shows that these dogs are not a banned breed, then I certainly think that council needs to look very, very closely at any cost that's been incurred by the owners," he said.
"The other side of the coin is we've got a duty and we could be seen as being negligent if we don't act on what our officers are trained to identify (by seizing the dogs)."