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


2  Dog Control

Overview of Defra proposals

4.  Defra has stated that "people need to be assured that there are laws in place that enable the police, local authorities and the courts to respond when owners have failed to prevent their dogs becoming dangerously out of control".[6] There are a number of Acts of Parliament that provide sanctions against those who allow their dogs to become out of control, ranging from the civil sanctions available under the Dogs Act 1871 to the criminal powers under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. In addition, the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 provides specific protection against livestock being worried or attacked by dogs. Prompted by a sharp rise in the problems associated with irresponsible dog ownership, on 23 April 2012 the former Minister for Agriculture and Food, James Paice MP, launched a consultation on proposals to tackle irresponsible dog ownership.[7] This consultation cited:

  • The 39% increase in the number of adults sentenced for offences relating to dangerous dogs from 855 in 2009 to 1,192 in 2010;
  • The rise in the number of dog-related admissions to hospital from 2,915 in 1997 to 6,118 in 2010;
  • Costs to the NHS of some £3.3 million in 2009 alone from treating the most serious cases where victims had to be admitted for treatment following a dog attack;
  • The numerous attacks reported annually on Royal Mail, Parcelforce and British Telecom staff. Most of these attacks take place on private property;
  • The deaths of five people between 2007 and 2010 following a dog attack in the home— four of the victims were children under the age of four years;
  • Concerns raised with Defra about dog attacks on health visitors and social workers during home visits.[8]

5.  The consultation asked for views on the following issues:

  • Compulsory microchipping of dogs. A number of specific options were proposed with Defra's preferred option being the compulsory microchipping of all puppies before they are first sold or gifted;
  • Extending the criminal offence of allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control to private property (where the dog has a right to be);
  • Removing the need for the police to "seize and kennel dogs seized as a suspected dangerous dog or prohibited type until the outcome of court proceeding"; and
  • Increasing the fee for placing a prohibited type dog on the Index of Exempted Dogs.[9]

6.  In February 2013, after we finished taking oral evidence, Defra announced a package of measures to tackle welfare and irresponsible dog ownership on which it had consulted in 2012. These focus on the microchipping of dogs, extending the law to cover dangerous dogs offences which occur on private property, and the seizing and kennelling of suspected dangerous dogs.[10]

7.  The evidence we received overwhelmingly supported the need for the Government to take further action to tackle dangerous dogs. We heard disturbing evidence from just a few of the victims of dog attacks, including Angela McGlynn, the mother of four-year-old John-Paul Massey who was killed by a relative's Pit Bull in his grandmother's home in 2009. Ms McGlynn told us that the family had had no indication that the dog was likely to be aggressive before the fatal attack.[11] She said that the present law and system of dealing with irresponsible dog owners had "let us down" since, despite the police having been notified about the presence of a banned type of dog, no action had been taken or advice provided to the owner.[12]

8.  The Communications Workers Union (CWU) which represents postal workers told us that some 6,000 of its members were attacked by dogs each year while doing their jobs. The CWU considered the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to have been "totally ineffective" at protecting postal workers.[13] The Guide Dogs Association, which reported that around eight guide dogs a month were attacked by other dogs, considered that the current law did not go "far enough".[14]

9.  Defra's 2012 consultation followed a consultation started by the previous Government in March 2010 on a wider set of proposals to improve legislation relating to dangerous dogs and responsible dog ownership in England and Wales.[15] That consultation covered:

  • extending the criminal law to all places including private property;
  • making additions or amendments to (including possible repeal of) Section 1 of the 1991 Act;[16]
  • repeal of the 1997 Dangerous Dogs (Amendment) Act to prevent any more dogs being added to the Index of Exempted Dogs;
  • the introduction of Dog Control Notices;
  • requiring all dogs to be covered by third-party insurance;
  • requiring that all dogs, or puppies, be microchipped; and
  • improving enforcement of the existing law, including a consolidation of existing statutes into one new, updated Act.[17]

10.  The narrower focus of Defra's 2012 consultation proposals prompted criticism from many of our witnesses—for example the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home considered them to be merely "tinkering around the edges",[18] whilst the BVA and the BSAVA called the consultation a "missed opportunity".[19]

11.  Defra's website notes that its consultation proposals, along with other work already being carried out, provide a mix of "preventative, educational and punitive measures...designed to tackle a variety of problems (e.g. allowing dogs to become dangerous, status dogs, allowing dogs to stray and general irresponsible ownership leading to poor welfare and antisocial behaviour)".[20] Defra specifies that it will also:

  • Evaluate and disseminate best practice in community-based projects to encourage responsible dog ownership;
  • Train more police officers to become specialised in dog legislation;
  • Revise the guidance to the courts on dangerous dogs offences;[21] and
  • Work with the Home Office in reforming anti-social behaviour tools and powers (where this involves dogs).[22]

12.  Witnesses tasked with enforcing dog legislation, including the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), expressed reservations about the ambition of the package of proposals.[23] ACPO noted that, some 20 years on, "serious flaws" were still being found in the existing legislation and wanted greater flexibility for the police to deal with the variety of issues faced. In particular, the Association asked for a focus on preventative measures such as Dog Control Notices and Orders,[24] which we consider further below.

13.  Some witnesses, such as the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, were critical of the time it had taken Defra to produce their proposals, and that even then they were published in the form of a consultation.[25] The National Dog Warden Association was "shocked and disappointed" that Defra had decided to spend time consulting further, referring to the "long overdue overhaul" of dog legislation for which it had lobbied for many years with a number of other groups.[26]

14.  The 2010 consultation included the option of consolidating dog control legislation but that does not appear as an option in the 2012 consultation. Some witnesses argued that consolidating legislation would help to provide a robust legislative framework, with, for example, the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and the Blue Cross suggesting this should be the Government's top priority action on dog control.[27] The BVA and the BSAVA considered that it was necessary to replace the Dangerous Dogs Act with "dedicated and consolidated legislation" in order to solve all of the problems associated with dog control and welfare.[28] The term 'consolidation' has a particular and specific meaning when applied to legislation. Most Consolidation Bills are proposed by the Law Commission and follow a particular Parliamentary procedure.[29] Consolidation Bills usually bring together a number of existing Acts of Parliament on the same subject into one Act without amending the law, although they occasionally contain minor corrections and improvements or repeal obsolete or unnecessary parts of the existing legislation. The advantages of bringing together all the legislation relating to a subject into a single unified Act of Parliament include reducing the number of overlapping provisions and providing enforcement agencies with a clearer set of powers. Dog control legislation comprises around two dozen key Acts and a large number of ancillary statutory measures. It would benefit from unification and clarification, but may require too much amendment to qualify for the particular procedures that apply to Consolidation Bills.

15.  Lord de Mauley, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at Defra, while acknowledging that problems associated with dangerous dogs were increasing, told us that the Government was "unlikely to go for wholesale reform" of legislation.[30]

16.  With the exception of the headline issues included in Defra's consultation, such as microchipping and the extension of Dangerous Dogs Act offences to private property, the Minister appeared to be poorly briefed and ill-prepared to provide us with information on the Department's views on a range of dog issues. For example, on the issue of giving the police statutory responsibility for stray dogs he stated that he was not convinced that this was the way forward but that it was "difficult to know how else one would address it".[31] On further measures to reduce attacks on livestock he said he was "not convinced that it is a case of legislating" but provided no detail on alternative approaches,[32] simply noting that the Home Office rules would address this.[33] On educational plans he told us that "our final decision" was yet to come,[34] noting that educating school children about dogs was "worth investigating".[35] No formal assessment of local authorities' effectiveness on licensing dog- breeding establishments had been undertaken or was planned.[36] Nevertheless, the Minister told us that he was sure that there would be primary legislation to extend the application of Dangerous Dogs Act offences to private property and secondary legislation on microchipping proposals.[37]

17.  The high number of dog attacks demonstrates that the current legislation on dangerous dogs has comprehensively failed to protect the public from attacks by out of control dogs, many of which have had horrific consequences. We were disappointed that the Minister was unable during our oral evidence session last October to provide the Committee with either detailed or comprehensive answers on a range of dog control and welfare issues. His evidence has done nothing to reassure us about the priority that Defra gives to this important issue. We believe the current approach set out by the Government is too simplistic and does not take adequate account of the importance of preventative action to deal with irresponsible dog breeders.

18.  Defra's consultation failed to reflect widespread public concern about irresponsible dog ownership, and its proposed measures announced in February 2013 were woefully inadequate. We recommend that Defra undertakes urgently a comprehensive consolidation of the legislation relating to dangerous dogs so as to provide a clear statutory basis for taking action on irresponsible dog owners. As a precursor to this, Defra should consult the Law Commission on the opportunities for the Commission to prepare a consolidation of dog control legislation.

Defra's consultation proposals

DOG ATTACKS WHICH TAKE PLACE ON PRIVATE PROPERTY

19.  The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 applies only to offences committed in a public place, not to those committed in a private place (unless the dog is not permitted to be there).[38] Defra's 2012 consultation includes proposals to remedy the legislative gap to enable prosecutions when a dog attack takes place on private property where the dog is permitted to be. Scotland and Northern Ireland already have legislation in place covering offences that occur in any place.[39] Defra refers in its consultation to the number of high-profile serious attacks which have occurred in the home, noting that in many cases the victims were children.[40] Since starting our inquiry there have been two further fatal dog attacks in private homes.[41]

20.  Many submissions to Defra's 2010 consultation supported the extension of the criminal law to all places although there was a lower level of support from members of the public, some of whom were concerned that intruders could seek prosecution of an owner, even if injured while committing a criminal act such as burglary. The evidence we received closely mirrored this response, with overwhelming support for Defra's proposed extension of the Dangerous Dogs Act to private property. For example, Angela McGlynn told us that "people need more rights" because many attacks are on private property, such as a relative's or their own home.[42] The CWU told us that some 70% of dog attacks on its members occurred on private property with no criminal sanctions applicable, arguing that the law had to "apply everywhere equally".[43] ACPO supported the proposal for its "operational benefits" given that currently there were "horrific and all too frequent examples of where the police have limited or no means to take appropriate action".[44]

21.  Witnesses opposed to the extension were concerned that the owner of a dog that attacked an intruder could be prosecuted. Some were concerned about potential prosecution of those whose dog attacked any visitor, even one with innocent purposes. Caroline Kisko from the Kennel Club told the Telegraph newspaper that it would be "unrealistic" to ask a dog to judge if it was using reasonable force.[45] The NFU considered that there could be impacts on farmers who relied on pets or working dogs to warn off potential intruders, particularly at isolated properties.[46] However, ACPO noted that there is already a duty on an owner of a property with access (such as a farm frontage) to ensure the safety of any visitor, such as postal workers. If, for security purposes, they do not wish to have people approaching the property, owners must have "adequate security measures and signage" in place.[47] The Minister said that the proposed extension would "not extend to protect trespassers who have entered the private property with unlawful intentions".[48] However, some witnesses, including the NFU, were concerned that it was not clear how this caveat would be enshrined in law.[49] ACPO told us that this issue was being examined closely and that safeguards would be put in to protect people present on a property with "implied or express permission", whilst not protecting those there unlawfully.[50]

22.  In February 2013, the Government announced its intention to extend the provisions of the Dangerous Dogs Act to make it a criminal offence to allow a dog to be dangerously out of control in any place, including on the dog owner's property.[51]

23.  Given the clear gap in the law which has for too long left those attacked on private property without effective criminal recourse, we welcome the proposed extension of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to offences committed on private property where the dog is permitted to be. Nevertheless, we recognise the concerns of those who fear a prosecution could be brought against the owner of a dog which attacks someone who is on their property with unlawful intent. However, there are already existing obligations on the owners of property and we acknowledge concerns raised by some witnesses that a change might have unintended consequences. We therefore believe it is essential that clear guidance is issued to ensure that the change in the law is used proportionately.

24.  We recommend that the Government frames clear guidance for law enforcement officers and the Crown Prosecution Service enshrining Ministerial assurances that the application of measures under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to offences taking place in private places will not protect trespassers. Defra should publish draft clauses as soon as possible for full consultation.

MICROCHIPPING OF DOGS

25.  In 2012 the Microchipping Alliance was formed by the Dogs Trust together with welfare organisations, vets and pedigree dog registration bodies. The Alliance lobbies for all dogs to be microchipped and their details kept on a national database. It has estimated that such a scheme would save the public purse £20.5-£22.8 million a year.[52]

26.  Defra's 2012 consultation states that microchipping is a "quick, safe and permanent way of identifying a dog" which allows lost dogs to be returned to their owners and the identification of irresponsible owners.[53] Currently 58% of England's dogs are microchipped and, with numbers of stray dogs rising over recent years and many re-homing centres full, Defra is proposing the introduction of compulsory microchipping.[54]

27.  Around 85% of those responding to Defra's 2010 consultation supported compulsory microchipping in principle. Defra's 2012 consultation sets out five potential options for implementing microchipping:

  • Microchip all puppies only (Defra preferred option);
  • Microchip all dogs on change of owner only;
  • Microchip dogs on change of owners and then after a period of time microchip all dogs;
  • Microchip all dogs within a year of legislation coming into effect; or
  • No change to the current situation where owners can choose to microchip their puppy/dog.

28.  In February 2013, Defra announced that it would introduce measures to require all dogs to be microchippped and registered on an authorised commercial database by 6 April 2016. Owners will have to register the details before they sell or give a dog away and will be responsible for providing up-to-date details to the database.[55]

29.  The three Devolved Administrations have taken different approaches to microchipping. Microchipping of all dogs requiring a new licence is mandatory in Northern Ireland,[56] and the Welsh Government consulted in August 2012 on the mandatory microchipping of dogs.[57] However, the Scottish Government told us that it "has no evidence to show that making microchipping compulsory for all dogs would effectively tackle welfare issues such as puppy farming or dog control issues such as dog attacks", hence it is not considering introducing this measure at present although it is monitoring developments elsewhere in the UK.[58]

30.  Most witnesses to our inquiry supported compulsory microchipping, with the Blue Cross referring to the "groundswell of support from dog owners".[59] Although there are concerns that the cost of microchipping would be a burden on responsible dog owners, most witnesses recognised that the welfare benefits outweighed these concerns. Additionally, many charities offer discounted or free microchipping services and veterinary practices may include discounted microchipping as part of a package of wider healthcare measures.[60] The BVA and the BSAVA noted that the cost, at between £10 and £30, was not prohibitive in comparison to estimated lifetime costs of owning a dog of some £16,000-£31,000.[61] The Minister told us very high levels of compliance with microchipping in EU member states where it was compulsory indicated that such a policy would generate a "good level of compliance" in the UK. [62]

31.  It should be noted that many witnesses, even those in favour of the proposal, were highly sceptical that microchipping would itself lead to any reduction in dog attacks and supported the approach largely because of the benefits for dog welfare.[63] The Impact Assessment (IA) accompanying Defra's consultation states that whilst it is "firmly believed" that microchipping will have a positive impact on dog welfare it only "may" assist in the control of dangerous and nuisance dogs.[64] The Minister told us that "the real reason for microchipping is to address issues of dog welfare and straying particularly".[65] Despite Defra's current support for microchipping, Ministers have not always been so enthusiastic, with former Defra Minister, James Paice MP, quoted in the press in 2010 as stating that:

Our view is that, as with licensing, the people whom we are trying to address would not do it [microchip]. One could argue that dogs found without a microchip would be destroyed, but we would end up with the serious problem of having to destroy a large number of dogs.[66]

32.  Witnesses to our inquiry echoed concerns about whether irresponsible owners would comply. The LGA told us that it doubted whether the very people who needed to be reached would be "part of the microchipping process at all".[67] However, ACPO told us that, in light of the frequent transfer of dogs around the criminal community, microchipping would be a step forward.[68] Further, it would aid the police in assisting other agencies in controlling dogs by enabling the quick locating of those whose dogs may have been involved in an incident.[69]

33.  Many witnesses disagreed with Defra's preferred consultation option to microchip puppies only. The Battersea Dogs and Cats Home noted that, under a policy of microchipping only puppies, it would take some 12 years for all dogs to be chipped.[70] One consequence of this approach is that, for a number of years after implementation, enforcement agencies would need to be able to accurately gauge a dog's age in order to decide if it had been born after the provision came into force. The consequent lack of certainty as to whether an owner had broken the law could in the LGA's view "undermine enforcement action" and the Association therefore supported the introduction of microchipping for all dogs "at a fixed point".[71] ACPO supported compulsory microchipping of puppies at the "earliest opportunity" and of all dogs over a period of three years.[72] Defra's IA calculated that requiring all dogs to be microchipped from a set date would provide greater savings, and would have the highest net present value of any of the proposed options, as well as providing "legislative certainty for owners and enforcers".[73] However, the Minister said it would be difficult for some database companies, vets, breeders, owners or rehoming centres to cope if all dogs were being microchipped at the same time.[74] Sue Ellis, Defra's Animal Welfare Team Deputy Director, also noted that a longer period of introduction would also help people to "get to know that they should be getting their dog microchipped".[75]

34.  The Government's announcement in February 2013 that it will require micochipping of all dogs, not only puppies, is a logical modification to its preferred option as set out in the consultation package. The approach reflects the evidence we received questioning the practicalities and impact of microchipping only puppies. We endorse the Government's proposals to require dog owners to microchip their dogs, principally in view of the likely welfare benefits. We welcome the Government's recognition that it is essential to require all dogs, not only puppies, to be microchipped in order to deliver the benefits over a reasonable timescale and to enable effective enforcement. Defra should publish the details of what it proposes as soon as possible.

35.  A potential lack of resources was also a concern. The IA for the Defra proposals anticipates a spend of only £20,000 in the implementation year for publicising any requirement to microchip dogs/puppies, despite stating that "the change in policy will need to be widely advertised to reduce incidences of non-compliance".[76] The IA does not include an anticipated compliance rate for the preferred option, although for other options rates of up to 90% are assumed. It states that the costings assume that there is no additional effort on enforcement beyond existing efforts to ensure responsible dog ownership.[77] However, the LGA noted that, without additional funding, councils would not have the resources for any proactive enforcement of microchipping requirements.[78]

36.  The IA states that it does not anticipate significant additional enforcement costs since "microchipping would likely be added to the enforcement requirements, including as part of any penalty imposed through prosecution and therefore not add any significant case loads to the Crown Prosecution Service and Courts so owners considered less likely to comply with microchipping will be caught by other legislation". The IA also notes that cases involving solely failure to microchip would be dealt with first by issuing an improvement notice (under Section 10 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006) to microchip within a specified time (say 1 month) or even just a warning. New offences would need to be introduced for not microchipping on change of ownership and not keeping registration details up to date and the IA states that "enforcement is likely to come about as part of a wider enforcement action where dogs have come to the attention of the authorities through dangerous or nuisance dogs, poor breeding practices etc".[79]

37.  Prior to its abolition in 1987, only some 50% of dog owners complied with the requirement to obtain a dog licence, indicating that without public support for a policy and consistent enforcement a large proportion of the dog-owning population is unlikely to microchip their dog simply because it is mandated in law. It is vital that provisions are effectively enforced if they are to have an impact on irresponsible dog owners as well as on law-abiding ones, and this will require a concerted campaign of enforcement of provisions, including spot-checks on dogs where necessary and tough penalties on failure to comply where the offence is connected to other antisocial or criminal behaviour involving a dog. Defra must liaise closely with enforcement agencies, including the police and local authorities, to ensure that officers are fully aware of the new provisions. It must also ensure that the public is made aware of the requirement, utilising all potential channels including via partners such as local authorities, veterinary practices, police forces and animal welfare charities. Furthermore, to ensure widespread compliance, arrangements must be made to ensure that low-cost microchipping services are provided to those less able to afford to microchip their pets or those owning assistance dogs.

38.  The need to keep data up-to-date could be a problem with implementing Defra's proposals. Battersea Dogs and Cats Home told us that databases held incorrect information on a third of the microchipped dogs it received,[80] although this is likely to be a larger proportion than that for the general dog population given that many dogs are at the Home because their owners cannot be traced. ACPO considered that the registration process needed "integrity" and a single national database was needed.[81] However, the LGA had concerns about one private agency having this role as it would have a monopoly which would prevent market forces having a positive impact on standards and prices.[82] The Minister told us that there would be "four or five" databases.[83]

39.  We recommend that the responsibility for the accuracy of data held on a dog microchipping database be placed with the owner of the dog being sold or transferred such that the onus is on the current owner to ensure that the new owner's details are provided correctly when the dog is transferred.

Microchipping vs dog licensing

40.  Dog licensing was abolished in 1987, at which time only around 50% of owners complied with the requirement to purchase a licence.[84] Dog licensing was retained in Northern Ireland,[85] where compliance remains low with only around a third of dogs licensed.[86]

41.  We received some evidence supporting a return to dog licensing in England—a measure not included in Defra's recent consultation. One potential benefit could be the raising of funds to help tackle dog welfare problems. The RSPCA noted that, with a 75% compliance rate, a dog licence of around £17 could generate around £107 million a year to spend on dog wardens, police resources, NHS costs and responding to imported zoonotic diseases from the trade in pets.[87] However, the Dogs Trust was "adamant" that a return to the dog licence would not help to prevent dog attacks, rather it would be a "bureaucratic tax" penalising millions of responsible owners.[88] A number of witnesses noted that microchipping provided a better approach since the chip stayed with the dog thus making it easier to link a dog to its owner.[89]

42.  A scheme under which potential owners must prove their suitability before they are licensed to own a dog could assist in promoting responsible dog ownership. However, the majority of witnesses considered this to be an impractical approach with, for example, the BVA and the BSAVA considering it difficult to enforce.[90] Jeremy Browne, the Home Office Minister for Crime Prevention, noted that, since millions of people own dogs, any form of pre-ownership scrutiny of all aspirant dog owners was "probably not likely to work well in practice".[91] The Defra Minister concurred, noting that it would not be practicable to require every owner to go through a suitability test.[92]

43.  We conclude that microchipping a dog provides a more reliable method of linking it to its owner than a licensing regime since the microchip stays with the dog at all times and can hold all the necessary data to enable enforcement agencies to identify the dog's owner. Furthermore, we do not consider it practical or proportionate to introduce a scheme under which a potential dog owner would be required to meet conditions before being licensed.

Missing elements from Defra proposals

STRAY DOGS

44.  Despite a drop in 2012, the number of stray dogs has risen markedly since 2008 and currently stands at around 118,000 per year. Commentators note that during times of economic stress there is an increased likelihood of pets being abandoned by owners who can no longer afford to look after them.[93]

Table 1 : Estimated number of stray dogs in the UK since 1997


Source: Dogs Trust, Stray Dogs Survey 2012 Summary Report, September 2012, p 5

45.  We received evidence expressing concern about the strain on local authorities trying to manage the rising number of stray dogs. Under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, responsibility for stray dogs passed from the police to local authorities from April 2008.[94] Staff at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home noted during the Committee's visit in May 2012 that local authorities had a backlog of stray dogs as dog homes had reached capacity. The Battersea Dog and Cats Home's Chief Executive told us that in the year following the transfer of responsibility for strays to local authorities, 1,100 more dogs had been brought to the Home compared to the previous year. This rise in numbers coming to animal charities had been maintained and was unlikely to abate "any time soon" due to the limited resources of local authorities.[95] Councillor Nilgun Canver told us that London Borough of Haringey had been "flooded" with stray dogs after the 2008 transfer, putting an "enormous burden on councils".[96] She considered that the responsibility for strays should be shared with the police.[97] The National Dog Warden Association noted that under Defra guidance councils were expected only to provide an out-of-hours stray dog service "where practicable" which meant that many councils were not "inclined" to use their powers at a time of spending cuts.[98]

46.  Although the Home Office Minister did not express an opinion, ACPO was strongly against a return to the police of responsibility for dealing with stray dogs, arguing that it would dilute scarce police resources which should be targeted on other issues and that stray dogs were an environmental health issue.[99] The Defra Minister was also not in favour of returning the responsibility for stray dogs to the police. He acknowledged it was a "considerable burden" on local authorities and charities but said "it is very difficult to know how else one would address it".[100]

47.  We are concerned that the number of stray dogs has risen considerably in recent years and we recognise the strain that managing the problem places on tight local authority finances. Nevertheless, it is vital for both public safety and dog welfare reasons that dog warden services are adequately resourced. Failing this, it will be necessary for the Government to consider a return to the police of statutory responsibility for stray dogs.

REVIEW OF DANGEROUS DOGS ACT SECTION 1 PROVISIONS

48.  Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 makes it an offence to own or keep any of the following types of dog (unless the dog has been placed on the Index of Exempted Dogs and is kept in compliance with certain requirements):

  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Brasileiro

49.  The legislation does not classify dogs by breed, rather by 'type' which means that whether a dog is covered by the prohibitions of the Act will depend on a court's judgement as to whether its physical characteristics meet the description of any of the prohibited types.[101]

50.  There has been considerable debate about the impact of this provision both on incidences of dog attacks and on dog welfare. While the 2012 consultation does not include consideration of any change to the section 1 provisions, some 88% of respondents to Defra's 2010 consultation did not consider that the type-specific legislation was effective at protecting the public and 71% believed the provisions should be repealed.[102] Lord Henley, then Defra Minister with responsibility for this policy area, said in November 2010 that in view of the "enormous support among experts in dog health and welfare for an end to the failed breed-specific legislation … Ministers must now take on board the strong views from this consultation to implement changes".[103]

51.  Many dog attacks, including fatal attacks on people, have involved dogs of a type not banned by the legislation.[104] We received extensive evidence, including from animal welfare charities, reiterating strong views about the need to amend the so-called 'breed not deed' provisions. The RSPCA told us that current legislation was not effective in tackling the real cause" of dangerous dog problems which were "often due to the owner's actions/omissions rather than the type of dog".[105] The Blue Cross told us that "a dog is not inherently dangerous purely and simply because of the way that it looks. Any dog has the potential to be dangerous if it has not been bred, trained, reared and, importantly, kept in the right way".[106]

52.  We heard from the Dogs Trust that the number of dogs deemed by local authorities to be 'status dogs' (including not only banned types such as Pit Bulls but also permitted breeds such as Huskies and Rottweilers) had increased by 140% in 2011.[107] During our visit to the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home we heard that fashions for some breeds, such as Mastiff types, had led to increased numbers of aggressive dogs being imported or bred which were of types not covered by the section 1 ban. The CWU noted that, despite banning the type, the Act had not reduced the number of Pit Bull dogs in the UK—rather their numbers had grown. It considered that "demonising certain breeds" made them attractive to the "wrong people".[108] ACPO noted the Pit Bull type was "without doubt the breed of choice for certain elements of the criminal and irresponsible dog owners in our communities" and had become "quite a status symbol".[109] However, it considered that certain breeds were popular within certain groups "not because they are prohibited but for the same reasons that they are prohibited".[110]

53.  The Dogs Trust wanted a reform of the legislation to repeal the current prohibition on ownership of certain types of dog based on "looks alone", and replace it with provisions to allow magistrates to determine whether a dog deemed to be of a type posed a threat to the public.[111] The Blue Cross, while accepting that at present a "total repeal" of type-specific legislation was undesirable, nonetheless referred to the fact that many animals are destroyed "regardless of temperament". It considered it was not acceptable that the welfare of particular dog types should be "compromised to such an extreme".[112]

54.  However, some witnesses such as the National Farmers Union (NFU) supported measures that discouraged the ownership of dogs of breeds "known to be aggressive".[113] Furthermore, ACPO was in favour of retaining bans on the four types identified under the DDA.[114] However, ACPO also noted that the current list of banned types might need to be added to at some point (for example to add dogs such as Mastiffs and crossbreeds), although it did not advocate this at present.[115]

55.  The Defra Minister told us that he did not consider that repealing type-specific legislation would promote more responsible dog ownership or reduce dog attacks, noting the police preference for retention of a ban on certain types of fighting dogs and stating that "frankly our priority must be to protect the public".[116] In November 2012, after we finished taking evidence, the Welsh Government published a draft Bill proposing to focus on the "action and behaviour of an individual dog and not on the breed or type of dog" since it was "critical to acknowledge that all dogs can be dangerous under certain circumstances".[117]

56.  The current law banning ownership of specific types of dogs was introduced with the laudable intention of banning fighting dogs, but the list of banned types is flawed and has led to some dangerous types of dog not being included and some dogs with a good temperament being destroyed unnecessarily. We understand concerns that an immediate repeal of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 may have unintended consequences but believe that Government policy should be consistent with the principle of targeting the deed not the breed. We recommend that the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 be amended to enable the Secretary of State to add other types of dog with particularly aggressive characteristics to the list of banned types from time to time. We further recommend that Defra, the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice consider how, in individual cases where there is clear evidence that a dog of a banned type poses no threat, discretion might be applied to require the dog to be neutered rather than destroyed.

COMPULSORY INSURANCE

57.  The previous Government's 2010 consultation on dog measures included proposals to require owners to take out third-party insurance against the costs of compensating those injured during an attack by their dog. The Association of British Insurers noted that it would not cover banned breed types nor reach those who already acted outside the law.[118]

58.  The Defra Minister ruled out compulsory insurance since the insurance industry was not in favour and judged that requiring every dog owner to insure their dog against injuring a third party would not be "entirely proportionate or appropriate".[119] Defra referred to the fact that, in the unfortunate case of a dog not being kept under control, there were other avenues of redress available to victims. For instance, those convicted of dangerous dog offences that led to injury or caused distress to a victim could be required to pay compensation. In addition, the victim could pursue civil damages. Defra also noted that, whilst currently it was not compulsory to purchase third-party insurance, the Department encouraged it, and many owners did have some form of cover. Furthermore, owners of one of the four banned types whose dog had been placed on the Index of Exempted Dogs must have third-party insurance.[120]

59.  We note concerns expressed by those responding to Defra's 2010 consultation about the potential practical problems of requiring all dog owners to insure themselves against their dog injuring another person or animal. In view of the potentially disproportionate costs to responsible dog owners, and the likelihood of a high level of non-compliance by irresponsible owners, we do not support a requirement for owners to obtain third-party insurance against their dog attacking a person or animal.

ATTACKS ON LIVESTOCK AND OTHER ANIMALS

60.  It is an offence to allow a dog to be dangerously out of control. This is deemed to occur if a dog injures someone or makes someone worried that it might injure them but, in addition, a court may determine a dog to have been dangerously out of control if it injured an animal or if the owner of the animal thinks they could have been injured if they tried to stop the dog attacking their animal.[121] There are also specific provisions under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 (DPLA) which make it an offence for a dog to worry livestock on agricultural land. Owners can be sued for compensation under the Animals Act 1971. Despite these safeguards, the NFU told us that each year thousands of sheep and cattle were injured, at a cost to the UK farming industry of more than £1 million.[122] The British Horse Society has also reported an increase in recent years in the number of dog attacks on horses.[123] However, the NFU considered that the majority of dog owners managed their pets responsibly and that there was no need for a wide-ranging overhaul of the law, but it did need to be updated to reflect the wider range of livestock now kept in the UK not covered by the DPLA, such as camelids. Furthermore, the courts should be able to order control measures or destruction of a dog in some instances.[124]

61.  The National Sheep Association expressed concerns about inconsistency in prosecution outcomes for those convicted of livestock worrying offences.[125] The NFU also wanted more rigorous enforcement of provisions, citing a lower level of priority given by police to pursuing possible prosecutions compared to 20 years ago.[126] In response, ACPO told us that the DPLA was "extremely old-fashioned" and "not an effective Act in today's rural communities".[127]

62.  The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 must be amended to provide protection to the full range of livestock now farmed, such as camelids.

63.  Enforcement agencies must give greater priority to responding to complaints of attacks on livestock and take a more consistent approach to prosecuting offences.

64.  The Guide Dogs Association report that there are currently some eight attacks on guide dogs by other dogs each month. It told us that such attacks have cost it some £200,000 over two years as well as having a significant negative impact on the welfare and independence of blind and partially-sighted people. The Association called for an attack on an assistance dog to be made equivalent to an attack on a person and that any attack on an assistance dog be considered an aggravated attack given the severity of the impact on the owner's mobility and quality of life. Defra told us that the Sentencing Guidelines released in August 2012 allow for an attack under the 1991 Act to be punishable by the Magistrates' Court by a maximum of six months imprisonment. The aggravated version of the offence carries a heavier penalty of two years imprisonment and requires that a person be injured or fear injury, which the Department noted was "arguably the case in an attack on a guide dog, which is a form of attack on the owner of the guide dog".[128] However, ACPO argued that currently enforcement agencies are left "without adequate legislation to deal swiftly and proportionately" with attacks by dogs on animals since, in its view, an attack on any animal covered by the Act must be aggravated (ie a physical injury must be inflicted) before any offence is committed.[129]

65.  We note the high level of concern about attacks on assistance dogs and the impact these can have on disabled people's ability to continue with their daily lives. We recommend that the legislation be amended such that an attack by a dog on an assistance dog be equated with an attack on a person and be unequivocally considered an aggravated attack.

Home Office proposals on antisocial behaviour and crime

66.  In May 2012 the Home Office published its Putting Victims First White Paper setting out measures to tackle antisocial behaviour and crime, which included a streamlined set of measures to deal with a range of problems from crack houses to dangerous dogs.[130] The White Paper envisages the repeal of existing tailored measures such as Dog Control Orders—dog controls for local areas which include, for example, banning dogs from recreation areas, requiring dogs to be on leads, and/or limiting the number of dogs per person.[131] The Home Office proposals divide measures into those with a community focus and those with a focus on individuals. The proposed Community Protection Orders would restrict how a public space could be used thereby enabling a local authority to, for example, restrict dog access to public spaces, or require dogs to be on leads. There would be a Directions Power in addition that would enable local authorities to direct any individual causing, or likely to cause, crime or disorder away from a particular place. Furthermore, a Criminal Behaviour Order could be imposed by the court which could set out prohibitions on an individual or require them to receive behavioural support. Such an order would be a civil sanction which the Home Office considers would be "quicker and easier to obtain" than criminal sanctions.[132] The Minister for Crime Prevention was clear that the proposals' aims were to remove a "massive range of different powers that people do not fully understand and which overlap with each other". By reducing some 19 provisions to six main approaches, it would be a "hell of a lot less complicated than the previous arrangement".[133] In December 2012, after we finished taking evidence, the Home Office published a Draft Antisocial Behaviour Bill taking forward these proposals. It includes the proposal to repeal the provisions in the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 relating to Dog Control Orders.[134]

67.  Many commentators have criticised Defra's consultation for omitting measures to enable authorities to act before injury or harm is caused through irresponsible dog ownership. The Home Office's White Paper states that approaches such as its proposed Acceptable Behaviour Contracts could be used to "nip emerging issues in the bud where the owner recognises the impact their behaviour is having on the community and understands that continuing will trigger more formal consequences".[135] Where a more formal response is required on the spot, the Community Protection Notice is intended to allow enforcement officers to require an owner to stop behaviour they judge is affecting a community's quality of life. That could include, for example, requiring an owner to repair inadequate fencing if their dog regularly escapes and attacks other dogs. In addition the Directions Power will allow the police to move an owner on if, for example, their aggressive dog were frightening parents and children outside a school. The White Paper states that in the most serious cases an irresponsible owner could be given a Crime Prevention Injunction "very quickly" which could prevent them taking their dog to certain locations at certain times, require them to muzzle their dog in public and require them to attend dog training classes.[136] The White Paper states that its approaches will give agencies the "flexibility to deal with a wide range of problems and protect victims". The Home Office does not believe it is necessary to legislate for a dog-specific power.[137]

68.  The Minister reiterated in oral evidence that the Home Office's proposals were predicated on the assumption that dog-related antisocial behaviour could be tackled in the same way as other types of antisocial behaviour, such as that related to drugs or alcohol.[138] However, many witnesses were concerned about this 'one size fits all' approach. The Dogs Trust wanted a greater focus specifically on preventing dog attacks, for example through Control Orders requiring muzzling of dogs, keeping a dog on a lead, attending training classes, or disqualifying some people from owning a dog.[139] It had concerns about the Home Office's approach of considering these issues under antisocial behaviour legislation since this could be "overly complicated".[140]

69.  Other witnesses were also concerned about dog issues being subsumed within a more generalised framework. The CWU considered the new framework to be more of a "political stunt than an effective tool",[141] whilst ACPO considered that a comprehensive Dog Control Bill could deliver a neighbourhood policing solution to many low-level issues.[142] ACPO, working with other agencies including the RSPCA and the LGA, have formulated proposals for Dog Control Notices. These would enable an authorised officer who has reasonable cause to believe that a dog is not under sufficient control and requires greater control in any place, to serve on the person responsible for the dog a written control notice as a preventative measure to protect the public, or protected animals. This would specify the respects in which he or she believes the person responsible for the dog is failing to keep the dog under sufficient control; and the steps he or she requires the person responsible for the dog to take in order to comply with the notice.[143] The steps could include: keeping the dog muzzled; keeping the dog on a lead when in public or under control as directed; requiring the person responsible to seek and implement expert advice about training and behaviour for the dog; having the dog neutered where appropriate; and keeping the dog away from particular places or persons.[144] The Association strongly supported the use of Dog Control Notices since they provided a "preventative and sustainable approach" that could be used flexibly in the circumstances applicable.[145]

70.  A similar set of measures have already been implemented in Scotland. The Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 came into force on 26 February 2011 bringing in Dog Control Notices which can be imposed on any owner who fails to keep a dog under control. Failure to comply can lead to a fine and/or destruction of a dog if ordered by the court.[146] A dog must be microchipped within 14 days of a notice being served and either the dog's owner or an entrusted person over 16 years of age must be in charge of the dog when it is in a public place. Other conditions may also be applied by the authorised officer if he considers this "necessary or conducive" to bringing the dog under control such as:

  • muzzling or keeping on a lead in a public place;
  • neutering a male dog;
  • keeping the dog away from certain places; or
  • attending training.

71.  It is a criminal offence not to comply, with a level 3 fine applicable (currently £1,000). The owner may be disqualified from keeping a dog for failing to comply with a notice and the court may apply for a destruction order for the dog where it considers that serving a notice would be inappropriate.[147] The Welsh Government is proposing changes to dangerous dogs legislation including the introduction of Dog Control Notices in a Bill potentially to be introduced in spring 2013.[148]

72.  The need to prevent irresponsible breeding was highlighted by dog welfare charities including the Blue Cross which told us that Dog Control Notices would also have the benefit of imposing a condition that a dog might be kept but not used for breeding. This could not be done under existing legislation.[149] The Defra Minister told us that the Home Office approach "effectively achieves what Dog Control Notices achieve in Scotland", but he accepted that the potential to include a ban on breeding of dogs could be considered.[150] During his appearance before us, the Minister for Crime Prevention was not able to clarify the extent to which dog breeding issues would be able to be tackled alongside other issues of dog control within the Home Office's own proposals. However, in subsequent written evidence the Home Office stated that the new powers were intended to be sufficiently flexible to deal with a range of issues. While it did not propose to set out in detail "when and how particular powers could or should be used," the Department noted that there were "scenarios in which it is conceivable that an unneutered dog could be central to a particular antisocial behaviour problem." In this case practitioners could include in a Crime Prevention Injunction or Criminal Behaviour Order, a requirement to neuter the dog, provided this was "essential to preventing future antisocial behaviour".[151]

73.  We recognise the value of streamlining the processes for tackling antisocial behaviour and crime so that agencies are able to take swift action to combat a range of issues. However, we believe that this simplistic approach ignores the real causes of antisocial behaviour related to dogs. Irresponsible dog breeding and the failure to socialise puppies in the first few months of their lives can lead to persistent problems which are harder to tackle later on. When such dogs become fully grown, their owners often find that they are unable to manage them so they abandon them, increasing the number of stray dogs. Puppies that are bred and raised by irresponsible breeders may be more likely to be violent and dangerous. The current approach by the Home Office appears to focus solely on the current owner of a dog rather than the initial breeder and this approach cannot begin to tackle the scale of the problem. We recommend that Defra and the Home Office legislate to introduce Dog Control Notices, using as a model Dog Control Notices introduced in Scotland. This will provide the police and local authorities with a comprehensive and tailored set of powers for tackling all aspects of dog-related crime and antisocial behaviour ranging from the illegal breeding of dogs, including so-called 'status dogs', to the training of aggressive dogs.

74.  There is an overlap in responsibility between Defra and the Home Office which could lead to a gap in addressing some dog control issues. For example, the Home Office Minister for Crime Prevention told us that while he accepted that there "may be consideration around things like breeding", this would be more directly within the responsibility of Defra.[152] Meanwhile, the Defra Minister told us that "the real tools for stopping attacks are in the Home Office package".[153] A number of witnesses, such as the Blue Cross and ACPO, considered that there needed to be improved co-ordination between Defra and the Home Office.[154]

75.  Furthermore, antisocial behaviour and crime related to dogs did not appear to be a high priority in the Home Office's development of proposals covering a whole range of different issues. For example, whilst the Home Office Minister told us that he understood the "distinction between dogs and mini-motorbikes",[155] many issues specific to dogs had apparently not been considered by his Department. For example:

  • whether dogs could be confiscated under the new antisocial behaviour powers;[156]
  • what would happen to any dogs which officers wished to seize; and
  • whether or not a requirement to neuter a dog could be imposed under the measures.[157]

76.  We are concerned about the apparent lack of priority given by the Home Office to dog-related issues which are to be subsumed within a generic framework for tackling antisocial behaviour and crime. Further, we are concerned that the split in responsibility for dog-related issues between the Home Office and Defra could lead to a fragmented approach which could be less effective at tackling both dog control and dog welfare issues.

77.  Agencies such as the police and local authorities need a clear set of powers to tackle dog-related antisocial behaviour and crime. If Defra is not to be given the opportunity to introduce consolidated legislation, as we recommend above, the Department must be given sufficient locus in Home Office policy development on antisocial behaviour and crime such that Government proposals take into full account dog welfare needs and the impacts of how dogs are bred and reared on dog behaviour.

TRAINING

78.  Any new powers given to enforcement agencies will only be effective with sufficient training, including on welfare aspects of dog management. The RSPCA in its advice to those involved in managing stray dogs noted that "quite often this task is carried out in the public arena, so it is vitally important that dog-catching staff have the ability to deal with stray dogs in a safe and humane manner without compromising public and personal safety or the welfare of the animal". Those involved in any dog-control programme need to have "empathy towards dogs" but the RSPCA warned that this could be difficult, particularly when non-expert staff are given such a role. The charity considered it essential that all staff received appropriate training, that they had equipment that was fit for purpose and that roles and responsibilities were clearly defined.[158]

79.  Neither Defra nor the Home Office Minister was able to reassure us that detailed consideration had been given to the training of general enforcement officers on issues specifically relating to dogs. The Home Office Minister told us that he hoped that it would not be "unduly onerous on people to try to adapt" to the new systems but did not provide any detail on what training might be needed for enforcement agencies.[159]

80.  We recommend that those agencies responsible for enforcing dog control legislation, including the police and local authorities, provide their staff with full training in dog welfare and control practices so as to enable better protection of themselves and the public from an out of control dog whilst having regard to the welfare of the dog.

Community and educational work

81.  Defra's consultation notes that its current and proposed work includes educational as well as punitive measures to tackle a variety of problems including stray, dangerous and status dogs.[160] The Minister highlighted the key role of education and has announced Government funding of some £50,000 to be shared by Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, the RSPCA and the Dogs Trust to "foster innovative local community projects to encourage responsible dog ownership" in areas where there are high instances of dog-related problems.[161]

82.  Many witnesses supported this focus on educating dog owners. Angela McGlynn wanted a greater focus on prevention, including education, rather than action after an attack. She described the dog attack that led to her son's death as "partly down to ignorance".[162] The RSPCA has urged the Government since preparation of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to introduce a wider public educational programme to "curb irresponsible dog ownership," and considered that failure by successive Governments to implement such a programme had meant that dogs were seen as part of a "throwaway society" to the detriment of dogs and society.[163] ACPO told us that education at all levels was "crucial" if there was to be an improvement in society's approach towards responsible dog ownership. It did not consider that the current proposals went far enough, arguing that a more thorough approach was needed, such as including animal welfare in the national curriculum.[164] This suggestion met with a mixed response from Ministers. Home Office Minister, Jeremy Browne, was reluctant to add to the list of issues schools must address,[165] but the Defra Minister, Lord de Mauley, considered that, while an addition to the national curriculum was "unlikely" there was "absolutely a role for education about dogs in schools", and that it was particularly worth investigating at primary school level.[166]

83.  Lord de Mauley noted that there was "never enough funding for everything we want to do" but he considered that a "relatively good balance had been achieved.[167] However, other witnesses criticised the lack of public funding for educational work. The Dogs Trust noted that most animal welfare charities had already invested significant resources in educating the general public,[168] and the Trust itself invested some £6 million a year in outreach work across the UK.[169]

84.  It is important to distinguish between dogs which are allowed to become a threat due to the owner's ignorance and those whose owners use dogs for criminal purposes. According to the League Against Cruel Sports, although dog fighting has been banned since 1835, there has been a 400% increase in dog fighting cases in recent years, with large increases in specific communities in the UK.[170] Whatever efforts are made to educate the public about dog control and welfare, there will be those of criminal intent who will not be persuaded of the need to change their behaviour and where effective, rigorously enforced sanctions will be required. However, greater education of dog owners, potential owners and the wider public on the control and welfare of dogs is essential to tackle problems that arise out of the ignorance of owners. In particular, education on the effective socialisation of a young puppy is key to preventing the development of an antisocial or aggressive dog.

85.  We welcome the inclusion in Defra's proposals of funding for educational work but are concerned that the funds will not be sufficient to deliver a far-reaching impact. If the Home Office's antisocial behaviour proposals are to be effective, there must be concerted work at a local level to tackle the ignorance of some irresponsible dog owners about the impact of the manner in which they breed, socialise and train dogs on these animals' behaviour. We recommend that Defra assess the cost-benefits of funding dog welfare charities to provide greater support to local authority antisocial behaviour teams and other bodies working at a local level to enable them to give sufficient attention to dog-related problems when dealing with multi-faceted antisocial behaviour and crime.


6   www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/dangerous/ Back

7   Defra, Promoting more responsible dog ownership: Proposals to tackle irresponsible dog ownership, April 2012, p 2 Back

8   HC Deb, 23 April 2012, col 31WS Back

9   Defra, Promoting more responsible dog ownership: Proposals to tackle irresponsible dog ownership, April 2012. Note: these proposals apply to England only, apart from the proposals relating to increasing the registration fee for the Great Britain-wide index of Exempted Prohibited Dogs which is not a matter devolved to Wales. The Devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have developed, or are in the process of developing, specific dog control and breeding approaches for their nations  Back

10   Defra, Promoting more responsible dog ownership: Summary of responses to consultation and way forward, February 2013 Back

11   Q1 Back

12   Q5. Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 prohibits the ownership of certain types of dog, including Pit Bulls Back

13   Q 42 Back

14   As above Back

15   Defra, Public consultation on dangerous dogs: Does current dangerous dogs legislation adequately protect the public and encourage responsible dog ownership? 9 March 2010  Back

16   Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 prohibits the ownership of certain types of dogs, unless they are on the Index of Exempted Dogs. Prosecutions may be brought before a court based on "just the physical characteristics of the dog". Defra, Dangerous Dogs Law: Guidance for Law Enforcers, March 2009 Back

17   Defra, Public consultation on dangerous dogs: Does current dangerous dogs legislation adequately protect the public and encourage responsible dog ownership? 9 March 2010, p 13  Back

18   "Battersea's verdict on Government's dogs announcement: a wasted opportunity", Battersea Dogs and Cats Home press release, 23 April 2012 Back

19   Ev 85 Back

20   Defra webpages on tackling irresponsible dog ownership consultation. See http://www.defra.gov.uk/consult/2012/04/23/dangerous-dogs-1204/ Back

21   Revised guidance was issued by the Sentencing Council in May 2012. See http://sentencingcouncil.judiciary.gov.uk/media/708.htm Back

22   Defra, Promoting more responsible dog ownership: Proposals to tackle irresponsible dog ownership, April 2012, p 2 Back

23   Ev 73  Back

24   Ev 88, Ev 89  Back

25   Ev 103 Back

26   Ev w19  Back

27   Q 171 [Steve Goody, Clare Horton] Back

28   Ev 85 Back

29   Consolidation bills are introduced in the House of Lords and after Second Reading committed to the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills, which may propose amendments. Third Reading in the House of Lords and all stages in the House of Commons usually pass without substantive debate Back

30   Q 355 Back

31   Q 359 and Q 360  Back

32   Q 365 Back

33   Q 368 Back

34   Q 399 Back

35   Q 403 Back

36   Q 406 and Q 407 [Sue Ellis] Back

37   Q 447 and Q 448 Back

38   Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 makes it a criminal offence for an owner to allow any dog (regardless of breed) to be out of control in a public place or a private place where the dog is not permitted to be Back

39   In Northern Ireland the control of dogs is governed by the Dogs Order (NI) 1983 (as amended by the Dangerous Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1991). In Scotland this extension has been achieved by amendments in the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 Back

40   Defra, Promoting more responsible dog ownership: Proposals to tackle irresponsible dog ownership, April 2012, consultation document, p 8 Back

41   Dog attacks led to the death of a woman in Morden in October 2012 and a newborn baby in Shropshire in November 2012  Back

42   Q 21 Back

43   Q 60 Back

44   Ev 91 Back

45   "Owners could face jail if dogs attack burglars under new plans", The Telegraph, 24 April 2012 Back

46   Ev 110 Back

47   Ev 96 Back

48   HC Deb, 23 April 2012, col 31WS Back

49   Q 69 Back

50   Q 106 Back

51   Defra, Promoting more responsible dog ownership: Summary of responses to consultation and way forward, February 2013 Back

52   Ev 83. The Microchipping Alliance bases these estimates on the fact that if more dogs were microchipped, more could be returned to their owners and in a more timely manner. As such, the cost to local authorities would be vastly reduced Back

53   Defra, Promoting more responsible dog ownership: Proposals to tackle irresponsible dog ownership, April 2012, consultation document, p 3 Back

54   The microchip is implanted under the skin of the dog in a simple and quick procedure. The owner's details (name and address etc) are entered into a national database linked to the microchip's unique identification number. A scanner can be run over the dog to pick up this unique identification number and the dog's details checked on the database  Back

55   Defra, Promoting more responsible dog ownership: Summary of responses to consultation and way forward, February 2013 Back

56   Compulsory microchipping was introduced in Northern Ireland following commencement of powers under the Dogs (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 on 9 April 2012. All dogs must be microchipped by April 2013 Back

57   "Minister proposes microchipping for all dogs in Wales: New plans to help improve the welfare of all dogs in Wales have been set out by Environment Minister, John Griffiths" Welsh Government press release,16 May 2012 Back

58   Ev w80  Back

59   Q 146 [Steve Goody] Back

60   Defra, Promoting more responsible dog ownership: Proposals to tackle irresponsible dog ownership, Impact Assessment April 2012 Back

61   Ev 86  Back

62   Q 386 Back

63   Ev 83 Back

64   Defra, Microchipping of Dogs Impact Assessment, May 2012, para 9  Back

65   Q 377 Back

66   "John-Paul Massey's mum's anger as Government scraps danger dogs crackdown", Liverpool Echo, 26 July 2010 Back

67   Q 112 Back

68   Q 111 Back

69   Ev 90  Back

70   Q 146 [Clare Horton] Back

71   Ev 74 Back

72   Ev 90 Back

73   Defra, Microchipping of Dogs Impact Assessment, May 2012, p 30, para 107. This states that Option 3-require all dogs to be microchipped and registered by a set date-would deliver a best estimate net benefit (present value) of £83.9 million, compared to a figure of £17 million for the preferred option, Option 4-require all puppies to be microchipped Back

74   Q 378 Back

75   Q 379 Back

76   Defra, Microchipping of Dogs Impact Assessment, May 2012, p 15 Back

77   Defra, Microchipping of Dogs Impact Assessment, May 2012, p 18  Back

78   Ev 73  Back

79   Defra, Microchipping of Dogs Impact Assessment, May 2012, p 18 Back

80   Ev 105 Back

81   Ev 90 Back

82   Ev 74  Back

83   Q 384 Back

84   Dogs, Research Paper 9816, House of Commons Library, January 1998 Back

85   Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Northern Ireland (DARD NI) web pages, www.dardni.gov.uk/index/faq/dangerous-dogs-questions.htm#legislation The annual cost of a Northern Ireland dog licence is currently £12.50 Back

86   Ev 83 Back

87   Ev 76. A licence fee of £17-£20 would represent around 3% of the total annual cost of keeping a dog Back

88   Ev 83 Back

89   Ev 105 Back

90   Ev 86 Back

91   Q 311 Back

92   Q 392 Back

93   "More than 40,000 animals abandoned as recession bites for pet owners", Metro, 1 November 2012  Back

94   Section 68, Clean Neighbourhoods Act 2005 (commencement No. 5 Order) terminated the role of the police in having responsibility for stray dogs. It amended section 150 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and repealed section 3 of the Dogs Act 1906 (c.32) (seizure of stray dogs by police) although the repeal does not apply for the purposes of section 2 (2) and (3) of the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 Back

95   Q 151 [Clare Horton] Back

96   Q 86 Back

97   Q 127 Back

98   Ev w20  Back

99   Q128 and Ev 91 Back

100   Q 360 Back

101   See Defra website www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets for further details Back

102   See responses to Defra, Public consultation on dangerous dogs: Does current dangerous dogs legislation adequately protect the public and encourage responsible dog ownership? 9 March 2010 Back

103   "Defra publishes responses to dangerous dogs consultation" Vetsonline, 25 November 2010 http://www.vetsonline.com/actualites/detail/33480/defra-publishes-responses-to-dangerous-dogs-consultation.html Back

104   For example a fatal attack on a baby in Shropshire in November 2012 was reported to have been by a Jack Russell Terrier. Furthermore, deaths caused by injuries from dogs of a non-banned type include:

2009: 18 month old child in South Wales, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and a Jack Russell

2007: one-year old child, Wakefield, Rottweiler

2006: 5 month old child, Leicester, two Rottweilers

2010: adult, Surrey, Belgian Mastiff

2009: adult, Blackpool, two Alsatians

2008: adult, London, Rottweiler Back

105   Ev 76 Back

106   Q 139 [Steve Goody] Back

107   Q 133 [Clarissa Baldwin] Back

108   Ev 115 Back

109   Q 100 Back

110   Ev 92 Back

111   Ev 82 Back

112   Ev78 Back

113   Ev 109 Back

114   Note: ACPO has drafted a Private Members Bill with measures on dog control including retention of the basic provisions on banned breeds in the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 Back

115   Q 103 and Q104 Back

116   Q 369 Back

117   Welsh Government, Proposals for a draft Control of Dogs (Wales) Bill, 23 November 2012 Back

118   Association of British Insurers response to Defra, Public Consultation on dangerous dogs: Does current dangerous dogs legislation adequately protect the public and encourage responsible dog ownership? 9 March 2010 Back

119   Ev 101 Back

120   Ev 102  Back

121   https://www.gov.uk/control-dog-public/overview Back

122   Ev 108 Back

123   British Horse Society website, Dog Attacks pages www.horseaccidents.org.uk/ Back

124   Ev 109 Back

125   "NSA Launches sheep worrying hotline" Farmers Guardian, 25 January 2012 Back

126   Q 58 [Nick von Westenholz] Back

127   Q 96 Back

128   Ev 102 Back

129   Ev 89 Back

130   Home Office, Putting Victims First: More Effective Responses to Antisocial behaviour, CM 8367, May 2012 Back

131   The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, sections 55 and 56, as implemented by the Dog Control Orders (Prescribed Offences and Penalties etc) Regulations 2006 and Dog Control Orders (Procedures) Regulations 2006, prescribe offences and penalties. These replace the previous system of byelaws for the control of dogs Back

132   Home Office, Putting Victims First: More Effective Responses to Antisocial behaviour, CM 8367, May 2012 Back

133   Q 261, Jeremy Browne MP Back

134   HC Deb, 13 December 2012, col 62WS. The draft Bill proposes the repeal of sections 55-67 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 which established Dog Control Orders Back

135   As above Back

136   Home Office, Putting Victims First: More Effective Responses to Antisocial behaviour, CM 8367, May 2012 Back

137   As above Back

138   Q 393 Back

139   Ev 82  Back

140   As above  Back

141   Ev 118 Back

142   Q 128 Back

143   Ev 74 Back

144   As above  Back

145   Q 117 Back

146   Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010. See also Scottish Government website Control of Dogs Act webpages http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Justice/law/control-dogs Back

147   The Scottish Government, Guidance on the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010  Back

148   Statement by the Welsh Government, Carwyn Jones, First Minister, Legislative Programme, 17 July 2012 Back

149   Q 159 [Steve Goody] Back

150   Q 396  Back

151   Ev 102 and Ev 103 Back

152   Q 276 Back

153   Q 377 Back

154   Q 136 [Blue Cross] and Q 117 [Association of Chief Police Officers] Back

155   Q 276 Back

156   Q 289 [Mike Warren] Back

157   Q 278 Back

158   RSPCA International, Operational Guidance for Dog Control Staff. See RSPCA webpages www.rspca.org.uk Back

159   Q 294 Back

160   Defra website, www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/dangerous Back

161   HC Deb, 23 April 2012, col 30WS Back

162   Q 20  Back

163   Q 133 [Gavin Grant] Back

164   Ev 91 Back

165   Q 299 Back

166   Q 403 and Q 404 Back

167   Q 400 Back

168   Q 153 Back

169   Ev 82  Back

170   League Against Cruel Sports website, www.league.org.uk Back


 
previous page contents next page


© Parliamentary copyright 2013
Prepared 15 February 2013