Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Dogs Trust’s response to government’s dangerous dog consultation

Dogs Trust is delighted that the Government has announced a long awaited consultation on measures to tackle the issue of Dangerous Dogs. It has been apparent for many years that the existing Dangerous Dogs Act doesn’t work and that it urgently needs revising to help protect the general public and dog welfare.

Dogs Trust has been lobbying the Government about the benefits of compulsory microchipping for the past twelve months. The charity believes that permanent identification must form a central part of any new dog legislation so it is deeply gratifying that this has been included as part of the consultation. Just a third of dog owners currently have their dog microchipped, but should this become a legal requirement more stray dogs can be reunited with their owners, thus ultimately reducing the 9,000 dogs that are destroyed by Local Authorities every year. A recent survey conducted by Dogs Trust shows that 88% of dog owners would be in favour of such a law.

Similarly compulsory third party insurance is a sensible precaution to protect both human and animal victims of dog attacks. Many household insurance policies will include this as long as the dog is in the insured person’s control at the time. There are also membership schemes such as the one Dogs Trust offers where for just £20 a year, any dog within the household has third party liability insurance up to a million pounds per claim.

There is a real need to extend the existing dangerous dog laws to cover private property as well as public spaces but exemptions will need to be carefully thought through. For example if a dog were to bite an intruder in the home such as a burglar, would their owners be exempt from punishment?

It is really positive to see a joined up approach from Defra and the Home Office in tackling the issue of irresponsible dog ownership. However it is essential that this is regarded as a social rather than a dog issue. It is unacceptable that a young person feels it is necessary to own a dog as a form of protection in order to feel safe on the streets.

In terms of what appears to be missing from the consultation, Dogs Trust would have liked to see the total repeal of all breed specific legislation and more consideration given to the penalties awarded to irresponsible owners including possible custodial sentences. The charity is currently lobbying for the introduction of increased penalties along the lines of dog owner ‘ASBOS’ which firmly place responsibility for the dog’s behaviour on the owner rather than looking at the breed of the dog in question.


Simon said...

Compulsory insurance is not the answer - the only people who benefit are the insurance companies.

There used to be something called a dog licence - it worked ....

Rocket science - the art of launching rockets into space. Common sense - the art of getting rid of dangerous dogs.

Anonymous said...

Im really upset after saving a dog off the street, the only people that would have him off me late evening was a police dog handler who tried his best after locating the owner, to get him to agree to castration and registration on the dangerous dogs act as he was a cross staff/pit. He was gorgeous, very well behaved but the owner wouldnt pay and he was destroyed. :( I am a huge animal lover and I am very upset. Tina

Unknown said...

couldn't agree with you more!
It is so well documented that dog attacks are generally due to bad ownership and is a strong case of nurture over nature.
Any dog has the ability to be vicious and attack however sadly it's those idiots out there that buy the powerful breeds and teach them to do this where as responsible owners that have the same breeds will tell you that when raised correctly they are loving family dogs.
It's about time the issues of the owners are brought more into the lime light then putting the blame on the dogs as it has also been shown that with re training and attention so called dangerous dogs can be retrained into loving trusting dogs.
I also think that owners who decide to breed powerful dogs and people who purchase them should be closer inspected to prevent these types of dogs going to the wrong type of person and make sure they go to the right people who have the capability to look after them.

Anonymous said...

I believe that this needs to be the first step to regulating more control over dangerous dogs. It has been in need of review for many years, better later than never. Where are all the local area dog wardens?
Jess@ www.thesoapcauldron.co.uk

letsgowalkies said...

Hi ,i have to honest,when I saw this first thing this a.m I was shocked , yes it is fab to see a change in dangerous dogs act.
But, perhaps i am being naive ,but, just like dog fouling laws how will this legislation work?? I believe there needs to be stricter penalties on owners and not dogs. There is no such thing as a dangerous dog,just bad ownership. dogs can not be blamed for being dogs, it is up to owner to help there dogs to understand the implications of any dogs behaviour and train as applicable. Yes, insisting on insurance will limit ownership to some.But just like gun laws i have to say is it really a workable answer? where there is a law there unfortunately makes a bigger market for others??
Owners should face heavy fines for those dogs that do bite,maybe even a prison sentence not penalise every dog owner .

Anonymous said...

I believe it is the owners who should be punished and it should not be breed specific, not all pit bull terriers are vicious. Vicious dogs are mainly produced by irresponsible owners, firstly they would avoid micro chips and they certainly wouldn't pay insurance. Compulsory insurance could mean more loving owners could not afford to keep the dogs they love, a dog licence may have worked in the past but I believe we have gone beyond that now. Dog Wardens only seem to work in the day, take them to the police and they are left in a cold open cage until the morning and if it is raining then tough they just get wet, the RSPCA are not the most sensible people to go to for help if you find a stray. Dogs Trust are so overcrowded and can't always take in strays long term. Neutering and Spaying all stray dogs and rehoming them is the only way forward, every person who owns a dog should be required by law to micro chip and care for the dog correctly, people who suspect cruelty or neglect should always report it. All a dog wants is food, lots of love and exercise.

Helen Pitt said...

I don't think compulsory insurance is the answer. I also see hundreds of kids with dogs these days in Birmingham strutting along with their token hound. they will love the fact their dog has an ASBOS. Go back to dog licensing and to get that license make owners do a course. I had to meet with a behaviourist to be allowed my dog who had been branded aggressive by previous owners. He is a collie cross and three years later he is a completely different dog, but can never be trusted as we can never undo totally what was previously inflicted on him. so we have to be careful and do have dogs trust insurance.
I think that's because we fall into "responsible owner" category, not because the government wants a bit more insurance premium tax from people.

EMWelaine said...

The insurance side of it is not the answer. Once again the burden will fall on the law abiding while those with 'stauts' dogs will not bother. How would insurance be policed? My fear is for the older dog owners who are on a very tight income, lots of pensioners on just state pensions. These people would find the burden of insurance hard to cope with yet a dog is often their only company,one of the last freedomw and a reasont o take exercise. Hit the status dog owners hard and make them carry the burden while taking to task the over breeding issues that burden the shelters in this country.

Anonymous said...

Presumably those who are against compulsory third-party insurance for dogs are against it for cars too? All the same arguments apply.

salome ranka said...

Dog licensing and microchipping are good ideas to cut down on the number of lost or stolen dogs.

I think that the most important thing is education - teaching people who want to get a dog every thing that one needs to know to have a healthy and happy dog. A lot of people have problem dogs because they don't know how to train them or how to un-train bad behaviour, these are the dogs that end up in shelters or end up being put down because they've hurt some person or dog.

I guess the problem with all dog legislation is how to police it. There's no easy fix, but punishing entire breeds for a bad reputation is wrong.

Sheena said...

There are no "dangerous dogs". It is the owners who are the real danger.

From what I can see of this proposed legislation it is completely missing the point about these dangerous owners. Such people are abusing any dogs that they have got their hands on. It may be a dog today, but it could equally be a knife or a gun.

These cruel, abusive owners are the ones who must be dealt with. They must be identified and have any dogs removed and be banned from getting any more.

This proposed legislation looks very much like it is going for the easy target - responsible and caring dog owners - while criminals will just carry on regardless.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with chipping but it is like all forms of legislation, only the law abiding comply. The same for insurance.
The complience would be equal to that for cars at best. How many uninsured, untaxed, unlicenced cars and drivers are on our roads. How do we implimement any form of licence?.
Please stop legislating against responsible owners, that's what chipping and insurance is, the complient paying for the irresponsible.
Tougher penalties against conviced persons, sorry but the automatic distruction of dangerous dogs. defining dangerous is the difficult bit, common sence says any dog which shows attack behaviour, that cause bodily injury, or has been trained for fighting. Mitigation could be within the boundries of a home when showing defence behaviour, dog licences for gaurd duty (which should be chipped and tatooed when licenced).
Dog breeding must be lesiglated by local councils, making the sale of dogs without a licence illegal, all pups to be chipped.
Dangerous is the word that needs defining and responsible owners should not be penalised by new lesiglation.

Who will police it ?. Law enforcement is streched enough without the burdon of enforcing more. This has to be self funding, breeding and chipping could be a source of funding. But we have to be prepared to accept removal of unchipped dogs from our streets.

Anonymous said...

And the government collects Insurance Premium Tax on every policy... Go figure...

karen jardine said...

Karen Jardine I have had dogs for the last 20 years, the present one can be boisterous when on the beach but that is where she really stretches her legs but if there are children around she is kept on her leader even though I trust her to be obedient. All my dogs have been microchipped as standard. This law (tax) is not going to stop dangerous dogs they will go... See more underground, it's responsible owners like most of us who will

Anonymous said...

I just can't honestly see how this could be policed. How is anyone going to know which dog is insured/microchipped and which isn't as it is being walked down the road. Will we have to carry papers with us all the time? We are talking about a specific social group here causing problems - and the only certainty I can see from any of this is that not one of them is going to have their dog chipped or insured. This will simply have an impact on responsible dog owners who aren't causing any of the problems. And I can't help but think that, in this increasingly compensation greedy culture we live in, some people will see this as a green light to accuse dog owners of some form of negligence in the hope of getting some easy money. Another day of Government nonsense. Ho hum.

Tracey & Buster said...

I think that microchipping should be compulsory - how it would be enforced and by whom - I don't know.
Insurance is something that all dog owners should have - but it would not stop the dog attacking someone!
'Bad' dogs are the product of ignorant, selfish owners - I am not sure how that problem could be sorted out - it's not like they are the sort of people who would worry about breaking the law!
It is a tough problem, not least because all possible solutions need manpower and money to enforce.
I hope they find something better than the DDA though!

Leigh said...

As the authorities are more interested in passing the buck and it seems dangerous dog owners can get away scot-free by simply lying, something definitely needs to change.

My cousin's Bull Terrier was mangled by a dangerous dog living in an adjoining garden (and I do mean living in the garden - it's chained up out there permanently but can easily break free of its chain). After hundreds of pounds in vet's bills, days off work through stress and the neighbours' flat refusal to help with bills or improve the situation, there's still no resolution.

The police would only defer to the dog wardens, who first insisted my cousin go round to personally accuse the dog owner with them, and when she refused went round themselves and said they were "nice people" and they wouldn't be taking the matter any further. Needless to say, they're not nice people. The council won't do anything except um and ah about better fencing between properties, which my cousin has had to pay for herself because the owners wouldn't. The dog has since been seen breaking free and chasing other dogs around the streets more than once - it's only a matter of time before something terrible happens. So yes, I'm in favour of anything that puts the responsibility squarely on the owners, because right now it's a farce.

Anonymous said...

to tell you the truth, you can take a hamster and make it vicious, i am an animal care student in my 2nd year at college. these problems dont lie with the dogs, every shred of evidents to date CLEARLY show that it is down to the owner, i myself have a mastive cross pit, and hes the most soppy dog you will ever meet.

Elaine Downs said...

I think that everyone is forgetting the breeders in this equation. Everyone talks about bad ownership, which I agree with, but, the problems start with irresponsible breeding.

Anonymous said...

Why is nobody even discussing dog breeders. People have created this problem by being greedy and now all the dog homes are overflowing with so called status type dogs. Its not the status dogs that should be condemned but the status people who are cowardice enough to hide behind a dog with a large jaw that would probably just suck you to death at the very worst if only nurtered by a descent civilised person.Some years ago i owned a pit bull terrier for 16 years and out of all the many dogs i have owned this was one of the most affectionate and timid not like my shitzu!

EMMA! said...

I have got 2 staffordshire bull terriers and they are the nicest doges i have ever had! I believe it is how they are brought up so why put certain dogs into a catoergry of being dangerous! My 2 are the least "aggressive" dogs ever they run away from other dogs being aggressive! So why should the government punish poor defenseless animals? As a way of making yet more money out of us? It is wrong would you do it to humans looking for fights on a saturday night after having a few too many? No, didn't think so, so why have you idiots decided to do it to our loyal pets? I think the people that have come up with this pathetic idea, should get one of these dogs as a pet before you call them dangerous and a threat to the public! They are loving pets who are good with kids and everyone else and should not be judged by the bad press! You do not read aboout the people who have been attacked by west highland terriers of poodles do you? So how can you judge and make a decision without having one of the most loving and loyal dogs as a pet?

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with most of the comments in favour of compulsory insurance, chipping etc for any animal.

Dog lovers will shy away from taking in any pets, as I am contemplating doing after my pets "leave" me.

I, for one, will not abide by any forceful chipping. I have had enough of this when I lived overseas with ear stamping. A very cruel procedure.

No one can tell me that the very thick needle needed to place a potentially harmful chip into a pet's back causes no pain. If in doubt, try it on yourselves first.

I have just received a pack from Dogs Trust for donations. I may be the only one doing this, but I will not donate to any organisation that backs compulsory chipping. In the end, the poor pets lose out whichever way you look.

Please try and look past the few dangerous dogs and look to the welfare of the millions of loving dog carers and their charges in this country.

Anonymous said...

i belive that insuring your dogs/dog makes perfect sence as it could save the owner thousands in the long run. majority of dog attacts arise because of bad owner skills and lack of training.at the end of the day if people are going to have any type of pet they should always make sure that they know what the animal requires and the level of care and attention it needs. but this isn't to say that anyone should be able to own a pet, i also believe that all owners should have either a licenc or some form of documentation in order to prove ownership.