The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) committee has released a report calling for the UK Government to conduct a full-scale review of the current dog control legislation to better protect the public and prevent harmless dogs from being euthanised.

The Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) bans four breed types, the Pit Bull Terrier, the Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, and Fila Brasileiro. This ban has failed to safeguard the public against dog attacks and has affected the welfare of countless dogs that have had to be euthanised due to being identified as part of these banned breeds. 

Today, Wednesday 17 October, EFRA released the report inquiring the effectiveness of BSL and recommended an alternative dog control model that focuses on prevention through education and early intervention. This includes childhood education as well as training courses for dog owners who commit low to mid-level offences similar to the speed awareness courses for drivers. Not only is this a better approach to protecting the public against dog attacks but will prevent innocent dogs from being put to sleep because of their looks.

 

“The Government has maintained that the breed ban is essential to public safety, arguing that these prohibited dogs pose an inherent risk,” the report reads. “Our inquiry found insufficient evidence to substantiate this claim.”

Animal welfare charities and organisations across the country have welcomed the announcement after endless campaigning against the legislation. The RSPCA are amongst those, with their #EndBSL campaign that had a petition with 80,000 signatures calling for end to the ban.

In the past two years, the RSPCA have had to euthanise 366 rescues as the law currently does not permit rehoming prohibited types of dogs to new owners, regardless of their behaviour. The campaign also includes tragic real life stories of innocent rescues that were taken away from owners and kept in kennels, only to be destroyed, leaving families and staff heart-broken.

Alison Green, the owner of Jack, a very friendly dog who was identified as a pitbull terrier type, said, “This report is common sense at last where common sense has been lacking. This draconian law needs to change and although this is a welcome step there is still a long way to go.

“BSL has failed to protect anyone. It has resulted in the deaths of thousands of dogs, cost millions in taxpayers’ money, and will never achieve its aim.”

British Veterinary Association also welcomes the recommendation, as President Simon Doherty comments on the report, “This is a strong endorsement of BVA’s position on dangerous dogs. We are very pleased to see that the report recommends a full-scale review of current dog control legislation and policy to better protect both public safety and animal welfare.

“BVA has long campaigned for a total overhaul of the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act because it targets specific breeds rather than deeds and gives a false impression that dogs not on the banned list are ‘safe’, thereby failing to properly protect the public and their pets from attacks.

“Any dog of any size has the capacity to be aggressive and dangerous, particularly when it is not properly trained or socialised, so education about responsible dog ownership is key to reducing these terrible cases of dog attacks we see in the headlines. We hope that the report will lead to robust, fit-for-purpose legislation that effectively tackles individual acts of aggression rather than banning entire breeds.”

You can read the summary of the EFRA report here and find out what happens to banned dogs, on the RSPCA website.

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