What qualifies a person to be an expert? How long is it necessary to learn ‘the trade’ (whatever it may be) before you have the knowledge that really will qualify you to become an expert? asks K9 Magazine staff writer, Neil Burton… I like aircraft but that does not make me an expert on them or able to fly them if I ever had the opportunity to do so. In the animal world there really does seem to be a plethora of ‘experts’ out there who tell us how to deal with various species whether it is how to handle or how to understand them. Some ‘experts’ really are just that, experts in their respective field but on the other hand there are those ‘experts’ who are uncovered as having little or no knowledge of their subject, yet they spread their views and opinions on the world wide web or hold ‘training courses’ where they eschew their opinions to an anybody. The danger here is, is the ‘expert’ disseminating correct information and advice or is it just a combination of self opinion, alchemy or pure baloney, or a mixture of all three? As we are told this by an ‘expert’, is it necessarily true, how we gauge whether it is correct or not. I do not class myself as being an expert of anything, I have carried out presentations on subjects such as dog control in Australia and the United Kingdom but that was after being involved with the subject for fifteen years basically as my day job. Even after 15 years I would not have the arrogance to call myself an expert and there are aspects of dog control that I have never had involvement with such as the world of Section 1 dogs, which sadly seems to be a growth area for experts to become involved in. Just how many true experts are there and who are they? One of the undoubted leaders in the field of ‘dangerous dogs’ would be Peter Tallack, former Metropolitan Police Dog Handler and now Advisor on Dogs to the Association of Chief Police Officers. With over 35 years experience as a dog handler and police officer dealing with ‘dangerous dogs’ Mr Tallack could rightly be called an expert. There are dog breed judges who must also be included in the equation based on their knowledge and experience of dogs and then there are Dog Legislation Officers who attend an intensive course. One thing that must not be allowed is unqualified ‘charlatans’ who claim to be able to identify Pit Bull Terriers and type dogs and there are a number of such people out there who claim that they can identify such dogs. Identification by unqualified people raises the risk of dogs that are not of type being incorrectly identified and if the owners are convinced to sign the dogs over to prevent a court case, then the fate of these dogs is sealed. By signing the dog over based on the assessment of an unqualified expert, does this mean that the dog owner is agreeing that their dog is of type? Breed Specific Legislation is wrong and should be repealed, but what is equally important is that only authorised and competently trained persons should carry out assessments of dogs, non-experts should not be allowed to seize alleged Pit Bull Terrier or type dogs until the law can be repealed. The fact that there appears to be totally unqualified persons dealing with the identification of dogs alleged to be Pit Bull Terrier or type is very wrong and has to be stopped now.