On 5 July 2021, MPs will discuss an e-petition calling for Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) to be replaced by a “new statutory framework”.
“We need a system that focuses on the aggressive behaviour of dogs, and the failure of owners to control their dog, rather than the way a dog looks,” the petition reads.
“Reconsider a licensing system. The framework must be applied by local authorities the same, whereas currently some destroy dogs with no court order. It must be much more strictly controlled than it is currently. The system needs to be fairer for all, dogs and humans. We are touched by cases of people committing suicide over the current system.”
In its response to the petition, the Government said it believes “prohibition on the four types of fighting dog under Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 should remain in place”. This position has remained unchanged in the 30 years since BSL was introduced.
In this time thousands of family pets who never harmed anyone, and rescue dogs who would have been perfect for rehoming, have since been killed for no good reason. Rescue dogs are especially vulnerable as they cannot be rehomed and must be destroyed, even if they pass their assessment with flying colours.
None of this, according to both experts and data, does anything to keep the public safe from dangerous dogs.
Introduced in 1991, this law prohibits the owning, breeding, selling, advertising or rehoming of four types of dogs: Pit bull terrier, Japanese tosa, Fila Brasiliero and Dogo Argentino. These dogs face destruction if seized, whether they ever behaved aggressively or not, and only have a chance at life if their owner is prepared for a long legal battle to have them exempted; even if they are successful, these dogs will never be allowed in public off lead and without a muzzle ever again.
However, Breed Specific Legislation is ‘specific’ in name only: in truth, it bans any dog that is a ‘type’. A Labrador/Staffie cross could very well be classed as a ‘type’ to be seized and destroyed, depending on their measurements; puppies from the same litter have been either spared or sentenced to death depending on their looks.
There is nothing scientifically sound about it. Whether dogs is classed as a banned ‘type’ depends on what they look like, rather than their actual breed; a few inches can spell a dog’s death sentence.
Parliament will debate this petition on 5 July 2021; the debate will be broadcast on the UK Parliament YouTube channel.