Law On Annual Registration Of Dogs Would Be Ineffective Says Kennel Club

Proposed legislation which would make the annual registration of all dogs a legal requirement is likely to be ineffective, the Kennel Club has warned. A Ten Minute Rule Bill on the issue is set to receive its second reading debate in parliament tomorrow (9 January).

Instead, the UK's largest organisation dedicated to the health and welfare of dogs believes that preventative measures based on responsible dog ownership would be far better to tackle the issue of dog control.

The Dogs (Registration) Bill, put forward by Julie Hilling, MP for Bolton West, would require all dogs to be registered annually with the intention that income raised from registration would fund enforcement of conditions and penalties imposed on those who own dogs and fail to control them.

Whilst the Kennel Club supports the principle of a funding stream for enforcement, it does not support annual registration as a means of achieving this.  The Kennel Club does not believe that a significant funding stream would be created this way, taking into account the low compliance of dog licensing elsewhere in the UK, such as in Northern Ireland, and the huge costs associated with administering such a scheme.

Instead the Kennel Club would like to see an overhaul of current dog control legislation, to update and consolidate existing laws to bring in more preventative measures to protect the public and dog welfare.  This view is supported by a recent report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Animal Welfare (APGAW) sub-group for dogs, supported by all major dog welfare organisations, which views updating and consolidating current legislation as the way forward in developing an effective England-wide strategy to protect dog welfare.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: "Sadly, this Bill appears to be a reaction to a fatal dog attack in Julie Hilling's constituency.  Whilst dog attacks that cause fatalities are a tragedy, they are also very rare and we don't believe that knee-jerk legislation should be the response - it was this approach that led to the highly flawed and much-criticised Dangerous Dogs Act in the first place.

"In the vast majority of fatal dog attacks, which in themselves are extremely rare, the dog's owner is known to the victim, meaning that registration details would not be required to identify the owner anyway, so we do not believe that incidents of this type would be prevented in future this way.

"One of the other reasons cited for introducing this Bill is that dog registration is used in other European countries to reduce the number of stray dogs, which is why the Kennel Club has fully supported the introduction of compulsory microchipping which, if enforced properly, will mean that all dogs will be able to be traced back to their current owner.

"A far more effective method of dealing with dog control issues would be to focus on preventative measures which would tackle the situations that create dangerous dogs in the first place.  This would rightly place focus on the owner, and on the need to properly train and socialise dogs from the very start of their lives, no matter what the breed or 'type' of dog, to ensure that they become functioning members of society.

"So whilst the Kennel Club certainly agrees with the aspects of the Bill that focus on the need for better preventative and educational measures to be put in place to reduce instances of dog aggression, we fail to see how compulsory dog registration would address this, particularly given the upcoming introduction of microchipping regulations."

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