Veterinary associations have described the Government’s package on dangerous dogs as a missed opportunity to prevent future dog attacks.
The package (for England) includes an extension of dangerous dogs law to cover private property, the removal of the requirement for all dogs to be held in police ‘custody’ and a range of options to introduce the compulsory microchipping of all dogs.
The announcement follows the 2010 Defra consultation on a wide range of dangerous dog and dog control issues.
Although the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) broadly welcome the individual measures announced, the proposals do not include any of the preventive measures that the BVA, BSAVA and many other organisations and individuals have called for since the introduction of the failed Dangerous Dogs Act in 1991.
Commenting, Harvey Locke, Past President of the BVA, said:
“In the 2010 consultation the Government received the message loud and clear that the Dangerous Dogs Act has failed to protect both the public and dog welfare. Unfortunately, today’s announcement has missed this once in a generation opportunity to overhaul the legislation.
“Dog welfare charities, veterinary organisations, trade unions, and enforcement bodies have been united in the call for a complete overhaul of the legislation and a new, consolidated Bill to focus on prevention. There will be a huge amount of frustration and disappointment with today’s announcement.”
Mark Johnston, President of BSAVA, said:
“Although we welcome the individual proposals they only tinker with the inadequate existing laws. The move to cover incidents on private property is a positive step but it will do little or nothing to actually prevent attacks happening in the first place.
“We are pleased that the Government has recognised the problems associated with breed-specific legislation and has proposed steps to ensure the welfare of dogs that have become the subject of court proceedings. This type of ‘bail’ for dogs is a welcome move to improve welfare, but we hope we can make the case for it to go further.”
On compulsory microchipping, Mr Locke added:
“The BVA strongly supports the introduction of compulsory microchipping and will be making the case for all dogs to be microchipped from a certain date, rather than a phased-in approach that would be very difficult to enforce.
“However, microchipping is primarily a welfare measure. It is not the answer to the serious problem of dangerous dogs and shouldn’t be promoted as such.”