Last week, the House of Lords passed the Dog Control Bill, which would repeal the UK’s Dangerous Dogs Act, including breed-specific legislation (BSL).
The proposed Dog Control Bill, introduced by Lord Redesdale, would place more responsiblity on dog owners for controlling their dogs.
Because a dog’s owner, environment and training have been proven to have a greater influence on his behavior than whatever breed he happens to be, the bill would also put an end to stereotyping Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans and certain other breeds as “dangerous.”
The Kennel Club reports that the bill would replace the Dogs Act 1871, Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and Dangerous Dogs (Amendment) Act 1997.
The Dog Control Bill is supported by the Dangerous Dogs Act Study Group (DDASG), which is composed of the Blue Cross, British Veterinary Association, Kennel Club, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and several other animal-welfare organizations.
DDASG Chairman Mark Callis told the Kennel Club, “Our members all know from personal experience that the aggressive, problematic dogs are always the ones which have been treated badly, neglected or, in some of the worst cases, deliberately trained to intimidate others. This bill would give us the powers we need to tackle the root cause of the country’s dangerous dog issues – bad owners.”
The following changes would take place under the Dog Control Bill:
- All breed-specific and “dangerous dogs” legislation would be repealed. “The police expend significant resources on enforcement of the Dangerous Dogs Act, with large amounts of money being spent on the seizure and kenneling of dogs simply because of their breed type – many of which are returned to their owners once proved to be of good temperament,” the Kennel Club reports. Dropping this legislation would save a significant amount of money, and resources could more effectively spend their time focusing on specific attacks – and preventing future ones.
- Dog Control Notices would be issued to irresponsible owners. Opponents of BSL have long urged legislators to blame irresponsible owners, not their dogs, for attacks. Dog Control Notices would be issued to owners of dogs that have acted dangerously without being provoked; injured another protected animal; caused harm; or caused a person to reasonably believe the dog would cause harm.
- Attacks on private property would be made a criminal offense. The Kennel Club notes that since many attacks occur in private homes where the victim knows the dog, it is “not acceptable for an owner to allow their dog to behave aggressively either in the home or in a public place.” This would not apply to dogs attacking or showing aggression due to an attack by another animal, or attacking someone if that person is committing a crime.
“I am delighted to have been part of this movement to push for the revision of existing dangerous dogs legislation,” Lord Redesdale told the Kennel Club. “By introducing preventative measures, such as dog control orders, problem behavior can be addressed before more serious incidents take place. This will go a long way toward protecting the public and ensuring responsible dog ownership for the benefit of all.”
A petition supporting the Dog Control Bill currently has more than 13,000 signatures.
The bill will next be debated by the House of Commons – but not in time to have an impact on the fate of Lennox, one of the most famous victims of the Dangerous Dogs Act. A Belfast judge will decide by November 11 whether Lennox, a family pet and therapy dog, should be destroyed because he has “Pit Bull type” characteristics. More than 118,000 people have signed a petition calling for Lennox’s release.
In the meantime, Blue and Miley, two other pets seized only because of their “Pit Bull type” characteristics, have been released to their families during the past two weeks.