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Dangerous Dogs Act Review: For Better or Worse?

04-01-2010


As promised, this week I’ll relate what dog owners and other groups think about dangerous dog legislation reform in the U.K. (See the last two blogs on "Reform of UK Dangerous Dogs Legislation” and "Unnecessary Burdens.”) Many dog owners and others echoed aspects of the Pet Care Trusts response. It is widely accepted that the Dangerous Dogs Act has already failed to address the problem. Those who currently ignore the act are just as likely to ignore these new requirements, too, leaving the costs to fall on the vast majority of responsible owners without tackling the underlying issue.

There is a feeling that the government is seemingly failing to address the source of the problem--drug gangs and others encouraging violent dogs--while penalizing the majority and creating yet another bureaucratic monster. This is reinforced by the way that dogs are now moving in and out of the country every day from as far away as North America under the pet passport scheme.

According to the leading U.K. dog charity Dogs Trust, about a third of owners have their dogs microchipped. The organization believes that if the microchipping proposals were enacted, then it would make it easier to trace the owners of dogs that have strayed and return their pets to them.

Dogs Trust also cautiously welcomed the intention of the government to extend the existing dangerous dog laws to private property, but said that this needed to be considered carefully. What if a dog attacked an intruder who had broken in to its owner’s home? The charity also emphasized that this is a social, not a dog, issue. "It is unacceptable that a young person feels it is necessary to own a dog as a form of protection in order to feel safe on our streets,” said Dogs Trust chief executive Clarissa Baldwin.

The Trust believes that all breed-specific legislation in this area should be repealed and it would welcome the possibility of jail terms for irresponsible owners. Dogs Trust is also keen to encourage the use of dog-control notices, which could be issued by police or council officers, and would place the onus on owners to deal with aggressive dogs.

Note: The consultation runs until June 1, 2010 and can be found online.



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