Today the RSPCA has highlighted a rise in the number of calls it receives about dog fighting and is holding a summit to discuss dogs in the community.
Dogs Trust, the UK's largest dog welfare charity, is totally opposed to any form of dog fighting and welcomes the increased penalties under the Animal Welfare Act and Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act. Representatives from Dogs Trust will be attending the summit.
However, dogs will not generally attack or fight unless provoked to do so or trained for fighting. The manner in which a dog is reared and trained is the greatest factor that influences the likelihood of aggression and so owners have a responsibility to train and supervise their dogs properly.
All dog owners should be encouraged to be responsible owners, regardless of the breed of dog. This includes keeping to the conditions under the Dangerous Dogs Act exemptions: microchipping your dog, keeping your dog under control (including use of lead and/or muzzle where necessary) and of course training, and keeping dogs in a way that discourages any inappropriate aggression. Dogs Trust urges the public not to punish individual breeds for the actions of irresponsible owners.
Some commentators in the media have called for the reintroduction of the dog licence. Dogs Trust does not believe this is a workable solution. A dog licence would penalise vulnerable dog owners but would not deter irresponsible owners. Dogs Trust believes tougher pet vending laws and increased education campaigns about responsible dog ownership are required.