The Dog Control Bill would replace the widely criticised Dangerous Dogs Act (1991), targeting the behaviour of any dog, and more importantly their owners, to genuinely reduce the occurrence of serious dog incidents rather than continuing to demonise specific breeds or types.
Defra’s recent public consultation on dangerous dogs showed further support for this approach with 71% of respondents calling for breed specific legislation to be repealed. The Metropolitan Police Authority alone have committed to spending £10.6m over the next four years on the boarding and veterinary care of dogs seized under The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. This follows a 110% increase in seizures over the past 3 years.
Since the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 was introduced, millions of pounds of public money and resources have been wasted by already overstretched police authorities in seizing dogs simply for being of a particular breed.
Preventing dog attacks is the key aim for future legislation. The Dog Control Notices proposed by the Dog Control Bill, are designed to identify potentially dangerous dogs, regardless of breed, before a serious attack happens. Lord Redesdale believes these will play a large part in ensuring better public protection and greater owner responsibility with regards to dog behaviour.
He said “People deserve to feel safe around all dogs, yet existing legislation has failed to reduce the number of dog bite incidents, which have risen by 79% in the past five years in London and 43% nationally*. This Bill goes a long way towards protecting the public through tougher, earlier action against irresponsible dog owners.
“It is generally accepted that the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 is the most discredited piece of legislation on the Statute Book. The current law has done nothing but make banned breeds and their lookalikes more appealing and created the issue of ‘status’ dogs because they are seen as status symbols.”
The Committee Stage of the Dog Control Bill will take place in the House of Lords this afternoon.
Members of the Dangerous Dogs Act Study Group (DDASG), which include animal welfare organisations, veterinary professionals and local authorities, have been united in considering how better legislation could be formulated since 2003. The DDASG believes that the Dog Control Bill introduced by Lord Redesdale is the best way forward to deal with dogs that are dangerously out of control and to ensure their owners bear the responsibility of their actions.
This will serve to better protect the public by introducing a new dog control regime that emphasises responsible dog ownership, for the benefit of both dog owners and non dog owners alike.
In support of the Bill, DDASG launched a petition which has received over 10,000 signatures. The petition can be found at http://www.gopetition.com/
20th January 2011
For further press information, images or interview requests please contact:
Victoria Brown, DDASG coordinator
07540 731320 / 020 7518 1008
Caption: it’s about the owner not the dog – Lord Redesdale highlights the importance of looking at the other end of the lead in his hard hitting Dog Control Bill which moves to Committee Stage today.
Notes to Editors
* Figures from research paper ‘LDDF Evidence Base ‘Dangerous Dogs in London’ 2009'.
The Dangerous Dogs Act Study Group:
The Dangerous Dogs Act Study Group (DDASG) is a wide-ranging group representing animal welfare, local authorities and veterinary professional organisations and includes representation from:
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home
British Veterinary Association
British Small Animal Veterinary Association
Mayhew Animal Home
Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
Wandsworth Borough Council
Wood Green Animal Shelters
Defra’s ‘Summary of Responses to the Consultation on Dangerous Dogs from 9th March 2010 to 1st June 2010’ can be found at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/
The Dog Control Bill would look to change the following:
• Repeal all existing ‘dangerous dogs’ legislation including breed specific legislation
The police expend significant resources on enforcement of the Dangerous Dogs Act, with large amounts of money being spent on the seizure and kennelling of dogs simply because of their breed type - many of which are returned to their owners once proved to be of good temperament. Removing breed specific legislation would allow those resources to be used more effectively elsewhere, and preferably to concentrate on those dogs showing unprovoked aggression.
• Introduce Dog Control Notices
The vast majority of dog attacks are as a result of the irresponsible actions of dog owners, who have either not taken the time and trouble to train their dog correctly, or have indeed trained them to behave aggressively. Dog Control Notices will apply to all types of dog that have acted dangerously without provocation, caused an injury to another protected animal (as defined by the Animal Welfare Act 2006), caused harm, or caused a person to reasonably believe it will cause harm, and works to prevent serious incidents of aggression occurring by allowing preventative action.
• Apply to both public and private places
A large proportion of dog attacks occur in the home and involve a dog that is known to the victim. The Dog Control Bill will make attacks on private property a criminal offence. Greater responsibility is therefore placed on owners to ensure that their dogs are not out of control in any place. It is not acceptable for an owner to allow their dog to behave aggressively either in the home or in a public place. The Bill does however include exemptions to cover circumstances such as an attack or aggression as a result of an attack by another animal, or on a person whilst that person is committing an offence.