Changes To Dangerous Dog Law Will Help Protect The UK’s Dogs, Public, And Responsible Owners, Says Kennel Club

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."

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