The UK is a nation of dog lovers. Whilst the vast majority of dogs pose no threat to the public, concern is growing that the Government’s current approach to dog control is failing to protect people adequately. In 1991 the Dangerous Dogs Act outlawed certain breeds/types of dog to protect the public from attacks, but since then the number of yearly fatalities has continued to rise. Hospital admissions for dog attacks have increased by 81 percent since 2005. An unacceptably high number of victims suffer horrific life-changing injuries in these incidents. Even where no physical injury occurs, dog aggression can cause significant psychological distress. At the same time, too many harmless dogs are being destroyed every year because they are banned and cannot be re-homed, even if they are well tempered and pose no risk to the public.
The Government has maintained that the breed ban is essential to public safety, arguing that these prohibited dogs pose an inherent risk. Our inquiry found insufficient evidence to substantiate this claim. We agree with the Government that it would be irresponsible to amend the breed ban immediately without adequate safeguards. That does not mean that the Government should continue to sit on its hands. Changing the law on Breed Specific Legislation is desirable, achievable, and would better protect the public. The Government’s lack of action on this front shows a disregard for dog welfare.
The current approach to dog control is plagued with deep structural problems. Improvements to public safety that simultaneously safeguard animal welfare can only be achieved through an open-minded engagement with new strategies. This will require time, commitment and political courage. To this end, we call on the Government to:
Published: 17 October 2018