After 21 years of waiting for revisions in failing dog control laws…is this it?

TheDangerous? Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 has failed. Yet, after 21 years of the RSPCA having to deal with the mess that the Dangerous Dogs Act has left us in, the government today announced a flimsy package of measures to target irresponsible dog ownership, which fall way short of tackling the ever escalating problem.

Despite years of working with policy makers  to help them to understand the issues that we, along with the police, local authorities and other animal charities have to deal with on the frontline, we seem to have been completely ignored.

While we welcome the proposed extension of the laws to cover attacks on private property, this is a mere drop in the ocean. The government has wasted this opportunity to make meaningful policies  in the fight against irresponsible dog ownership, and with our animal centres filled to bursting with abandoned and abused dogs, we simply can’t wait another 20 years.

Even at their strongest, the proposals for microchipping which will be open to (yet another) public consultation, “compulsory microchipping for all dogs” will fall short of really addressing the issues and demonstrates  that the Government have failed to grasp the complexities of this issue.

Microchipping alone is not enough

Many of the abandoned animals we see already have microchips, but inadequate and out of date records mean owners are unreachable or can simply claim that they ‘gave the dog away years ago’ (This was pointed out to Secretary of State, Caroline Spellman when she visited our Harmsworth Animal Hospital, but it seems to have fallen on deaf ears). The RSPCA is calling for the reintroduction of a mandatory dog registration system to run alongside compulsory microchipping, but it is vital that owners details be centrally held in an up to date  Government run database if it is to be effective.

Dog registration would go a huge way to improving the lives of millions of dogs and  holding the irresponsible owners to account for acts of cruelty or neglect.

After 20 years of having to deal with the reality of failing dog control laws which fails to hold cruel and irresponsible owners accountable for their actions, frankly, we’ve had enough.

4 Responses to “After 21 years of waiting for revisions in failing dog control laws…is this it?”

  • AlexGhionis

    Ack, the government and its agencies are useless at most things.

  • Sarah

    I’m not sure about compulsory microchipping in practice. Responsible owners will abide and get their dogs chipped, but again the irresponsible ones may not bother. How is it going to be enforced to make sure they do? A database or something? What happens if the irresponsible dog owners this is aimed at, ignore the rules?

    With regards to attacks on private property – are there any exceptions to that rule? For instance if your dog was to attack an intruder who broke into your home?

    You mentioned Caroline Spellman visited Harmsworth Animal Hospital and she had the opportunity to have an influence but hasn’t. The politicians are removed from the world of irresponsible dog ownership. I think they should be made to spend a week or two at a rescue centre so they can see the reality and not just hear words.

  • Nigel Tolley

    Any project, if it is to be adopted by the government, would require to be self funding, when it is in place the government or local authority would be required to recruit sufficient dog wardens to effectively “police” the operation. In my opinion anybody who is a serious dog loving owner would have no problem with this, but obviously many owners would not oblige and they are the very ones that should not have ownership of a dog in the first place. It would be hard, but there must be sufficient power in the law to allow, after a warning system, for the dogs to be confiscated from these so called delinquent “owners”. After all, these it is these people who are responsible for a large percentage of dog cruelty in the Uk.

  • Sue

    Unfortunately, laws are only ever as good as the will or the means (or both)to enforce them, and I speak as a lawyer. I am often left frustrated at best and dumbfounded at worst by the lenient sentences handed down to people who abuse animals when compared with, say, the USA, where they really take this issue seriously. So from my standpoint, our animal welfare laws and the penalties for ill treatment of animals are, and have always been completely ineffective and in some cases laughable – except that I don’t think it is all that funny!
    If laws are made, but enforcement is weak or lacking, and there are few if any real consequences, then irresponsible pet owners will just carry on being irresponsible pet owners. Of course, responsible pet owners will do whatever the law requires of them, but the problem is that the laws are not really aimed at those people, and will do nothing to address the real issues. Dogs (particularly Staffie types) are being bred indiscriminately on estates all over the UK for profit and as status symbols. How do you even begin to keep track of them all? Compulsory microchipping is a great idea, but enforcing compliance is something else entirely!

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