Organisations pen open letter concerning the Dangerous Dogs Act

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The Dangerous Dogs Act does not work. Over 30 years after it was introduced, banning the ownership of four breeds and types deemed ‘dangerous’, thousands of pets have been put to sleep for no reason other than their looks and the public is no safer. Experts across the board have long cast doubt over the effectiveness of Breed Specific Legislation, including a recent report commissioned by the Government which was highly critical of the unfounded assumption that breed is a reliable predictor of aggressive behaviour.

Now, dog attacks are on the rise. The law quite simply does not work – and yet the Mirror has launched a campaign to ban even more breeds, as though slapping the ‘dangerous’ label on yet more breeds (could your dogs be next?) in this deeply flawed piece of legislation – killing thousands more pets only for their looks and ‘measurements’ – is going to suddenly start working after three decades of failure.

As a coalition of organisations who care for animals impacted by Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act (1991) and who hold policies opposing Breed Specific Legislation have written an open letter to the The Mirror…

dangerous dogs act

We are all deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic events this year and agree that urgent action is necessary to effectively protect public safety. We strongly believe that the current approach for protecting public safety is not fit for purpose and in addition has a number of unintended negative consequences for both humans and dogs. Changes are absolutely necessary but to be effective, they must be informed by scientific and other robust evidence. We cannot support what the Mirror is calling for and we are deeply concerned about the proposed changes.

Aggression in dogs is a complicated behaviour. It is not simply a product of breed and breed is not a reliable predictor of aggressive behaviour. Analysis of 256 fatalities in the USA spanning a ten year period highlighted the impact of ownership and husbandry factors on dogs and the complex genetic factors and lifetime experiences (along with husbandry) that influence a dog’s behaviour and how they respond to different stimuli e.g. people, dogs and other animals. These factors include mismanagement of dogs by owners; abuse or neglect of dogs by their owners and dogs left unsupervised with a child or vulnerable adult.

Adding additional dogs to the current list of prohibited types or measures which seek to manage certain types of dog because they are believed to be more dangerous than others will not effectively protect the public. This is not just our view but was concluded by the EFRA select committee following their inquiry into dangerous dogs in 2018. Quite simply, any dog can bite and can be considered dangerous. In fact, continuing to focus on breed will continue to fail the public and harm the many dogs who live harmoniously with us.

There are undoubtedly people who are attracted to certain types of dog and intend to use them for illegal purposes. The coalition agrees that it is essential that measures are available to deter and punish owners of dogs whose behaviour is deemed dangerous however this cannot be breed specific in approach. We have long called for a different approach and for the UK Government to learn lessons from those taken by other countries which shifts the focus from breed to encouraging responsible dog ownership and education.

We want to see:

  • Interventions that focus on safe behaviour around dogs;

  • Effective legislation and enforcement with measures that allow early intervention, are preventative, evidence-based and proportionate;

  • A better understanding of why a dog bites to help understand better how bites can be avoided.

Yours faithfully,

The Dog Control Coalition:

Battersea; Blue Cross; British Veterinary Association; Dogs Trust; The Kennel Club; RSPCA; Scottish SPCA.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Anybody else notice that the RSPCA have changed their stance on “Dangerous Dogs” to fit in with their current “furbaby” supporters views. The RSPCA was totally in favour of the introduction of the Dangerous Dogs Act in 1991.

  2. No, your dog is NOT next if you don’t want any kind of bully dog that has no place in decent society. Police and courts won’t do the work of getting yobbos and thugs off the streets. Why make the job of said thugs even easier by turning a blind eye the types of dogs they inevitably own? Dog organizations have been bleating about “your Wolfhound/Weimaraner/GSD/Border Collie is NEXT if pit bulls are banned” for decades now. Guess what? It hasn’t happened. Those of us who actually love dogs and other animals are sick and tired of seeing them killed and injured by fighting breeds who have no place in modern life. Let them go extinct. There is nothing these dogs do that can’t be done better and more safely by other breeds.

    • No dog is a fighting breed when born. They are trained that way. I am a believe tat you punish the deed not the breed. I love all animals and I truly believe that a person that has no control over there dog and trains them to be aggressive should be extremely punished.

  3. not all dogs are dangerous and as you said any dog can bite but its usually the owner with no experience or want a macho dog to make them look good its not the dogs fault and yes to many people children are being killed by big breeds but most havnt had proper training to many unscrupulous people breeding and buying these animals and they and inocent people are paying the price not all of these animals are bad just there owners

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