MPs question Government inaction on cruel breed-specific legislation

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Members of the Commons Petitions Committee have expressed “disappointment” after Ministers at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) defended the UK’s current breed-specific legislation, while “refusing to engage with petitioners”.

In June, MPs on the Petitions Committee wrote to Jo Churchill MP, a then Minister in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, expressing concern about the impact of breed-specific legislation, which bans the ownership of certain dog ‘types’ on the assumption they are inherently dangerous. Countless family pets who never harmed anyone have since been put to sleep as a result, only because of their looks.

Friday 12 August will mark the 31st anniversary of the law. Despite continuous criticism by dog behaviour experts, with the very report commissioned by the Government casting doubts over the effectiveness of the law, the Government’s response to the Committee, from Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park, set out a defence of the current laws. Ministers also declined to meet with petitioners, citing diary commitments.

Christina Rees MP, the member of the Petitions Committee who opened the most recent debate on breed specific legislation, said, “Under current laws some breeds of dog can be kept in kennels for months pending lengthy court hearings, and often can’t be rehomed even when they pose no danger to the public. Hundreds of dogs are needlessly destroyed every year because of this cruel legislation.

“Public safety is paramount, but the law must be proportionate and not contribute to the unnecessary suffering of innocent animals. While I welcome the Government’s work with police forces to increase uptake of the interim exemption scheme – which allows dogs to be temporarily released and returned to their owners pending court hearings – much more needs to be done to protect the welfare of these dogs.

“I know petitioners and campaigners alike who have called for reform of breed specific legislation will be as disappointed as I am by the Government’s latest ‘copy and paste’ response on this issue.”

breed specific legislation kills dogs based on their looks

Catherine McKinnell MP, Chair of the Petitions Committee, added, “It is hugely disappointing that the Government appears to be completely unwilling to review breed specific provisions in the Dangerous Dogs Act.

“Since 2020, petitions calling for a change in the law to protect these innocent animals have received more than 350,000 signatures, and yet the Government has refused time and again to review legislation on banned breeds, or even gather new evidence on the risks of banned breeds and effectiveness of breed specific legislation.

“It is particularly disappointing the Minister has refused to even meet the person who started the most recent petition on this subject. The Government must recognise the significant public concern about these laws, and reconsider its decision not to review this.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Why are certain people in the Government being so blindsided over this debate??? Surely they must realize that if the majority of animal organisations like Blue Cross, RSPCA, Battersea, and many top vets have joined in the outcry about the way INNOCENT dogs are suffering in unsuitable kennels for years before being assessed. Some even die in there.Then if they are assessed as in no danger to anyone they still have to suffer wearing those terrible uncomfortable uncomfortable muzzles.

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