The UK's largest organisation dedicated to dog welfare, the
Kennel Club, has welcomed amendments made to the Dangerous Dogs Act
(1991) which extend the law to cover incidents on private property,
increase maximum sentences for owners of dangerous dogs, and makes
injuries to assistance dogs an aggravated offence.
However the organisation remains disappointed that Government has
again missed the opportunity to repeal ineffective breed specific
legislation, which has failed to reduce dog bite incidents or the
number of banned breeds currently in the UK, instead simply putting
the welfare of thousands of dogs at risk.
The amendments to the Dangerous Dogs Act have been enacted as part
of the new Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, and
the changes are widely regarded by leading animal welfare
organisations as being a huge step in further protecting the public
and the estimated 9 million dogs in the UK, the vast majority of
which live with responsible owners.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary commented: "The Kennel Club
sees these amendments as being extremely positive overall for the
welfare of millions of dogs in this country, as well as helping to
protect the public and the UK's responsible dog owners. For too
long, irresponsible owners who consistently allow, or even
encourage, their dogs to act aggressively or behave dangerously
have essentially been protected by regulations which tend to
penalise the dogs rather than their irresponsible owners. This
updated legislation makes it absolutely clear that this is not
acceptable and owners must take responsibility for adequately
training their dogs.
"We have been very careful during our work with Government to
ensure that there are adequate defences for those otherwise
responsible dog owners who find themselves in unforeseen
circumstances. This includes scenarios such as dogs protecting
their homes from intruders or responding to provocation.
"Disappointingly however, the issue of breed specific legislation
still remains unaddressed, with the government failing to use the
opportunity whilst amending the Dangerous Dogs Act to repeal this
ineffective element of the law.
"The Kennel Club believes in the principle of 'deed not breed' and
that genetics plays only a small part in the temperament of a dog,
with breeding, socialisation and environment having a far greater
effect. The majority of dog bite incidents are a result of the
irresponsible actions of owners who have either not taken the time
and trouble to train their dog correctly, or have in fact trained
them to behave aggressively. Consequently any legislation based on
genetics that ignores the influence of the dog's keeper on its
behaviour is highly likely to be ineffective, as has been proven
with the Dangerous Dogs Act."