137. The large number of responses to our call
for evidence for this inquiry is testament to the public concern
about dog control and welfare issues. However, there is an apparent
lack of corresponding commitment from the Government to tackle
the problems of out of control dogs and the health and welfare
of dogs linked to poor breeding.
138. Defra's proposals on tackling irresponsible
dog ownership will do little to prevent dog attacks. Defra appears
to have left responsibility for preventative measures to the Home
Office to address in its antisocial behaviour measures but we
were not persuaded that dog issues will be a priority under the
Home Office 'one size fits all' framework for tackling antisocial
behaviour. Defra and the Home Office must work together to give
enforcement authorities the flexibility to act swiftly on concerns
about a dog and its owner before they lead to aggressive action
with devastating consequences for victims. The use of specific
measures such as Dog Control Notices, already introduced in Scotland,
could provide a far sharper tool for local authorities and police.
139. We were disappointed that Defra has done
little to improve dog welfare linked to dog breeding. Undoubtedly
some bodies and breeders are trying to implement improvements
so as to raise health and welfare standards, and some progress
is being made. However that progress is too slow and inconsistent.
There is an over-reliance on voluntary action from a community
some of whose members have entrenched ideas at odds with the scientific
evidence. We have concluded that significant improvements in the
well-being of dogs will only be achieved if the Government empowers
a body such as the Advisory Council on Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding
to enforce regulations that apply to all breeders.