Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Supplementary written evidence submitted by Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)

ACPO support the retention of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) at this time, and feel that any repeal in the near future would have a direct and significant detrimental effect on public safety. The overwhelming breed/type of dog of concern is that of the Pit Bull Terrier.

ACPO wish to retain BSL at this time for the following reasons:

1.The PBT through many years of selective breeding has the ability to reach an extreme state of arousal, reach this state of arousal extremely quickly and maintain it for great periods of time. This behaviour has stood them in good stead for many years of fighting in the pits.

2.They are an extremely powerful dog for their size.

3.Their strength combined with their physical conformation enables them to inflict disproportionately more severe injuries than any dog of comparable size or weight.

4.Through selective breeding they have lost the bite inhibition that has been bred into dogs over the last 10,000—15,000 years of domestication. This is due to the “Bite/Kill” behaviour of the predatory motor pattern (Orient—Eye—Stalk—Chase—Bite/Inhibited—Bite/Kill—Dissect—Consume), becoming hypertrophied through selective breeding. This is evident in footage of dog fights where PBTs can be seen to be continuing to bite and shake its opponent long after the opponent is dead.

A secondary aggravating factor with regards to their state of arousal when biting, is the fact that this behaviour is rewarding in itself. When a behaviour is rewarding to an animal, it reinforces the behaviour, and by definition any behaviour that is reinforced is more likely to be performed by the animal again in the future. This is often seen with dogs worrying/killing sheep.

5.Again through selective breeding, the PBT has lost much of the distance increasing behaviours that one expects to see in dogs (raised hackles, baring of teeth etc). The PBT will often fail to display these behaviours as, especially if they have experience of biting either a dog or person, they want the fight, and fail to display the aforementioned distance increasing behaviours that dogs rely upon to avoid confrontation, avoid injury, and survive to pass on their genes.

6.It is claimed by some that the PBT is only popular with certain groups within our communities because it is prohibited. ACPO strongly believe this not to be the case, and that they are popular within these groups not because they are prohibited, but for the same reasons that they are prohibited.

7.The PBT remains the breed of choice for a wide range of irresponsible and criminally minded individuals.

Organised dog fighting.

Chain fighting or rolling.

Status dogs.

Weapon dogs.

Protection of drugs, stolen goods, property etc.

8.The PBT is far from the most aggressive breed of dog, but for the aforementioned reasons, when a PBT does display human aggression either directly, or mistakenly when attacking another dog or animal, the injuries that they are capable of inflicting are disproportionately great. It is likely that PBTs account for less than 1% of the dogs within the United Kingdom (there are of course no figures to confirm this), yet three of the eleven deaths within the United Kingdom in the past seven years have been as a result of attacks by PBTs, the same as that attributed to Rottweilers, a far more popular and larger breed of dog.

ACPO is of the opinion that BSL could be repealed when, through robust legislation, education, and commitment by all agencies including those in the charitable sector, society’s approach to responsible dog ownership is significantly improved, so that the unrestricted ownership of the Pit Bull Terrier would not pose a disproportionately high danger to public safety.

July 2012

Prepared 14th February 2013