Kennel Club Welcomes New Law To Tackle Irresponsible Dog Owners

But has fears over ineffective implementation and enforcement

The Kennel Club has welcomed the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act (2014), which gives new powers to local authorities and the police to deal with irresponsible dog owners, but it has concerns that it leaves responsible owners open to being unjustly penalised by potentially over-zealous local authorities.

The new law comes into effect on Monday (20 October) and includes a number of preventative measures which will improve many of the inadequacies of previous dog control legislation.  One of these measures, Community Protection Notices, is intended to reduce the number of irresponsible owners that allow their dogs to be out of control in public, by targeting them at the first signs of anti-social behaviour.

However, the Kennel Club is concerned that Public Space Protection Orders, the new measure which replaces previously used Dog Control Orders and enables local authorities to place restrictions on dog walking, no longer requires local authorities to advertise their public consultation in the local paper before the orders are introduced. This is included as a recommendation within the guidance produced to accompany the Act, but it is not a mandatory requirement, meaning that dog owners may not be aware of potential restrictions that may be introduced in their area.

Similarly, the Kennel Club has concerns about the current lack of resources and mandatory training for enforcers, who are tasked with dealing with anti-social behaviour, which could prevent the Act from being properly implemented and enforced.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: "We are glad that this new law reflects what the Kennel Club has believed in for a long time - that irresponsible owners should be held to account for the behaviour of their pets and that anti-social behaviour should be tackled in the early stages, which will help to prevent more serious incidents from occurring. The measures introduced send a clear message to owners regarding their responsibility to train and socialise their pets and rightly shifts legislative focus to the correct end of the lead - at dog owners themselves.

"Whilst we are pleased that the government has included in the Act's accompanying guidance that local authorities should consult with the Kennel Club and other relevant authorities on certain issues, we are disappointed that this is not a mandatory requirement.   As it stands local authorities can choose to ignore the views of organisations that represent dog owners, such as the Kennel Club, meaning that dog owners could potentially lose their voice and dogs across the country could suffer."

The announcement follows the introduction of amendments made to the Dangerous Dogs Act earlier in the year, which were welcomed by the Kennel Club, and extended the law to cover private property and increased maximum sentences for those who fail to properly control their dogs.

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