Dog Control and Welfare - Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Contents

1  Introduction

Background to the Inquiry

1.  The UK is a nation of dog lovers with around eight million dogs kept as pets.[1] Yet in 2011-12 there were some 118,000 stray dogs found, 7% of which were destroyed, and increasing numbers of cases of cruelty are reported by animal welfare charities.[2] Recent reports have highlighted the poor conditions in which some dogs are bred and sold (often at so-called 'puppy farms') as well as concerns about some practices linked to pedigree dog breeding. Incidences of dangerously out of control dogs have been increasing. Each year about 210,000 people are attacked by dogs in England, including some 6,000 postal workers, and there have been seven fatal dog attacks in homes since 2007 (five of them on children).

2.  In April 2012, in response to growing public concern about out of control dogs, Defra launched a consultation on Tackling Irresponsible Dog Ownership.[3] In May 2012 the Home Office published a White Paper, Putting Victims First, including proposals applicable to dog-related antisocial behaviour and crime.[4] That month we launched our inquiry into Dog Control and Welfare, to examine both dangerous dogs issues and welfare concerns linked to breeding. On dog welfare issues we focused on the response from the Government, the veterinary profession and the dog-breeding community to Professor Bateson's 2010 report of his Independent Inquiry into Dog Breeding.[5] The full terms of reference for our inquiry are appended to this report.

3.  We received 85 written submissions and held five oral evidence sessions in September and October 2012, hearing from representatives of the dog-breeding community, animal welfare charities, veterinary professionals, the police and local authorities, as well as from those affected by dog attacks. We also heard from Professor Bateson and Professor Crispin, Chair of the Advisory Council on Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding. We took evidence from Lord de Mauley, Defra Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Resource Management, the Local Environment and Environmental Science; and from Jeremy Browne MP, the Home Office Minister for Crime Prevention. A full list of witnesses can be found at the end of this report. We are grateful to all who gave us evidence in person or in writing and to the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home which in May 2012 hosted a visit by the Committee in preparation for our inquiry.

1   Defra's Impact Assessment on Microchipping of Dogs refers to a UK dog population of 8 million as estimated by the Pet Food Manufacturers Association, inferring from this an English dog population of 6.7 million, (para 15, p 8). However, estimates of UK dog ownership vary from 7 to 10 million. See and Back

2   Dogs Trust, Stray Dogs Survey 2012, September 2012: figures are for 1 April 2011-31 March 2012. The RSPCA reported in 2011 rises of 24% in the number of people convicted for cruelty and neglect, 22% in convictions relating to cruelty to dogs and 21% in disqualifications on keeping animals imposed by the courts. Back

3   Defra, Tackling Irresponsible Dog Ownership, April 2012. This consultation sought responses by 15 June 2012 Back

4   Home Office, Putting Victims First: More Effective Responses to Animal Behaviour, CM 8367, May 2012. The Home Office published the Draft Antisocial Behaviour Bill, CM 8495, on 13 December 2012 Back

5   Patrick Bateson, University of Cambridge, Independent Inquiry into Dog Breeding, January 2010 Back

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© Parliamentary copyright 2013
Prepared 15 February 2013