Thursday, 31 July 2008

The problems of identifying illegal 'pit bull types' in the UK

K9 Magazine has a very concise article about the difficulties of identifying a type of dog banned under the UK Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. Dogs Trust continues to question the terminology of the Act even after the (welcome) 1997 Amendment, as you might know. If you'd like to know more about the charities full stance on the DDA, you can read more on the main website.

The summary of the article by Alison Green highlights the central absurdity:
So there we have it. That’s what a pit bull type aka “dangerous dog” is in the UK legal system today. Its any dog that a judge believes scores enough points, mainly in conformation, on a breed standard that is no longer used in that exact form as a standard for that breed.
For most dog owners, the 'deed not breed' mantra has become the central argument against breed-specific legislation. This shows the other weak point in the kind of legislation the UK already has. In the full article, Green also points out the unfair advantage to the prosecution. In most cases we are innocent until proven guilty - when it comes to DDA cases, the impetus is on the defence to prove that the dog is not a 'pit bull type' (whatever that is!) rather than on the prosecution to prove it is.

With responsible owners and good treatment no dog of any kind need find itself the focus of this kind of investigation. We'll continue to campaign for fair legislation but also focus on educating the future dog owners of the UK.
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