The EFRA inquiry found that current legislation fails to protect the public whilst harming dog welfare
The RSPCA has welcomed the announcement that the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee’s report is calling for a full-scale review of current dog control legislation and policy.
The RSPCA has been calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the effectiveness of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) in protecting public safety and dog welfare since August 2016.
The charity’s high-profile #EndBSL campaign called on the UK Government to review Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) 1991 which, under BSL, prohibits the ownership of four types of dogs: pitbull terrier, fila Brasiliero, dogo Argentino, Japanese tosa. Over 84,000 people supported our campaign and the need for a different approach.
The report released by EFRA today (Wednesday) is calling on the UK Government to remove the ban on rehoming these banned types to new owners as currently it results in the unnecessary euthanasia of good-tempered dogs that could have been safely re-homed. It also asks for an independent review into the factors affecting dog aggression, and a new Dog Control Act to facilitate early intervention in dog incidents, as well as better education for children and dog owners.
Back in May EFRA announced an inquiry entitled Dangerous Dogs ; Breed Specific Legislation and invited written and oral evidence to be submitted for consideration.
Today we welcome the publishing of their report and thank the committee for the amount of consideration they have given to the submissions when making their findings, which we wholeheartedly support. We await the Government’s response and hope very much that they will finally take steps to review our current legislation for the benefit of all.
It seems, as has been known to many of us involved with the Act on a day to day basis the inability of DEFRA to seemingly understand the flaws in the act that they implement and oversee in the capacity as The Index of Exempted Dogs and its lack of effectiveness in protecting the public was not lost on the EFRA committee and the report is fair and thorough in its approach as to the way forward. We sincerely hope the government take on board what is contained within it so that we can all move forward tackling the deed not the breed and ensuring that the laws we have in place truly protect the public and prevent incidents as opposed to the current legislation which focusses on punishment rather than prevention.
As the committee says in the report the government does not have to continue to sit on its hands. “Changing the law on Breed Specific Legislation is desirable, achievable, and would better protect the public.”
In the last 27 years, a large number of people have been injured in incidents involving all breeds of dog, and a large number of dogs have been destroyed who have never injured anyone, purely for the way they look because the law fails to protect either. Whilst we are cautiously optimistic we are also very much aware that there is much more to do and would ask everyone to watch the page for any further updates and/or requests for help moving forward.
We would also like to thank the RSPCA and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home for the time and enormous effort they have put in to even get to this stage and offer to them whatever assistance we can in the future.
The report in its entirety is available via the link at the bottom of this post
PRESS RELEASE EFRA
Dangerous Dogs legislation fails to protect the public while harming animal welfare
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee’s report Controlling dangerous dogs is calling for a full-scale review of current dog control legislation and policy to better protect the public.
The inquiry was launched to investigate Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) and wider dog control, amid concerns that the current approach was not protecting the public adequately. The Committee said an alternative dog control model should be developed that focused on prevention though education, early intervention, and consistently robust sanctions for offenders.
Among its recommendations to Government:
• Removing the prohibition on transferring banned breeds to new owners. The Committee found the prohibition to be misguided, as it results in the unnecessary destruction of good-tempered dogs that could have been safely re-homed.
• An independent review into the factors behind dog aggression and attacks, and whether banned breeds pose an inherently greater threat. The Committee raised serious concerns about the robustness of the Government’s evidence base on BSL, and highlighted evidence showing that some legal breeds can pose just as great a risk to public safety as illegal breeds.
• Mandatory dog awareness courses for owners involved in low to mid-level offences. A compulsory training course, similar to speed awareness courses for drivers.
• Awareness campaigns to encourage responsible ownership and improve childhood education on staying safe around dogs.
• A new Dog Control Act to consolidate the existing patchwork of legislation and provide enforcement authorities with new powers.
Neil Parish, Chair of the Committee, said:
“The Government’s current strategy for tackling dangerous dogs is well intentioned but misguided. Existing laws and the breed ban have not stemmed the rising tide of injuries and deaths from dog attacks. Children and adults are suffering horrific injuries, many of them avoidable. This is unacceptable. The public must be properly protected, and we are therefore calling for a full-scale review of existing dog control strategies.
“We carefully considered the merits of the breed ban under the Dangerous Dogs Act. Our evidence was clear that the law is riddled with inconsistencies, harms animal welfare unnecessarily, and offers false reassurances to policymakers and the general public. All dogs can be dangerous, and we can’t ban all dogs that might one day bite someone. Evidence from across the world shows that the Government should focus instead on encouraging responsible ownership, improving education, and ensuring offenders face robust penalties.
“Some aspects of the law are utterly indefensible. In particular, the ban on transferring Section 1 dogs to new owners is cruel, illogical, and unnecessary. In line with its commitments to improving animal welfare, Defra should repeal the transfer ban for dogs that have been behaviourally assessed and deemed safe. Failure to act will show a calculated disregard for dog welfare.”
The report found that:
• The focus on Breed Specific Legislation is misguided. The Government should undertake a comprehensive review of dog control legislation and policy. This should support the development of an alternative dog control model that focuses on prevention though education, early intervention, and consistently robust sanctions for offenders.
• The Government’s arguments in favour of maintaining Breed Specific Legislation are not substantiated by robust evidence. An independent evidence review must be commissioned to determine whether the banned breeds/types present an inherently greater risk than other legal breeds. If not, this aspect of the law should be revised.
• To avoid imposing an unnecessary death sentence on good-tempered animals, the ban on transferring Section 1 dogs to new owners should be removed immediately, if the animal has been behaviourally assessed and found to be safe. This should be accompanied by adequate regulation and safeguards to ensure the re-homing of Section 1 dogs is conducted responsibly and safely.
• The patchwork of legislation should be consolidated into a single Dog Control Act. Dedicated Dog Control Notices should be introduced to facilitate early intervention in dog incidents.
• Young children are at risk of serious injury. The Government should facilitate childhood education programmes on dog safety and run awareness-raising campaigns encouraging responsible ownership and safe human-dog interaction among owners and the general public.
Any bids or enquiries should be directed to: Joe Williams email@example.com 07546 571 626.
The Chair of the Committee will be available for pre-recorded and live media appearances.
More information about the inquiry into Dangerous Dogs: Breed Specific Legislation inquiry
Media information: Joe Williams firstname.lastname@example.org 07546 517 626.
Specific Committee Information: 020 7219 5528 / email: email@example.com
Trevor Cooper is starting his brand new tour of seminars next week called 'Doglaw for Professionals : Update 2018 for England' which will be providing (1) an overview of the new proposed Animal Establishments Licence (which will particularly impact on breeders and boarders, including day care & home boarding) (2) an update on Breed Specific Legislation in light of recent High Court decisions, and (3) a review of where we are with increasing the sentencing for cruelty offences and the issue of sentiency of animals.
A few places are still available and to book your place call us on 01304 755 557 or mail firstname.lastname@example.org. It costs £120 for the half day.
Other venues will be in the following weeks -
Sutton Coldfield Friday 27th April
Harrogate Thursday 4th May
Manchester Friday 5th May
Southampton Friday 11th May
Peterborough Thursday 17th May
Witney Friday 18th May
Reminder : There's a couple of consultations being undertaken by DEFRA for England and you only have a limited time to respond. You have until 27th April to make your voice heard regarding a possible ban on the use of electronic training collars for cats & dogs, and until 2nd May to provide evidence on the possibility of a ban on third party sales of pets (Lucy's Law). Full details on both consultations are on the DEFRA website.
There are many petitions online at the moment causing confusion to many as to which ones to sign. The two we are supporting are the RSPCA petition to repeal BSL which can be found here and a petition set up by Draconian Dogs Act asking for open keepership for banned breeds and can be found here
Please add your support
We've been getting a lot of 'accident claim' calls lately. Could we ask that if you call us for advice you leave us a quick message (either voice or text) so that we know it's a genuine call and not time wasters. We are more than happy to call you back.