BVA supports MPs’ call for overhaul of ineffective dangerous dogs law

17 October 2018

Any dog of any size has the capacity to be aggressive and dangerous, particularly when it is not properly trained or socialised. Education about responsible dog ownership is key to reducing attacks

The British Veterinary Association has welcomed the recommendations put forward by the Environment, Food and Rural
Affairs (EFRA) committee on breed-specific legislation (BSL) today,
which calls on the government to conduct a full-scale review of current dog
control legislation and policy to better protect the public.

The report, ‘Controlling dangerous
dogs', recommends an alternative dog control model that focuses on prevention
though education, early intervention, and consistently robust sanctions for
offenders. In the absence of sufficient evidence to back BSL, the report also
calls on the government to conduct a comprehensive independent evidence review
into the factors behind canine aggression and to introduce a centralised
database to record information on dog bites.

BVA has campaigned for many years for
consolidated, effective and evidence-based dog control legislation that
recognises the principle of ‘deed not breed'. BVA and the British Small Animal
Veterinary Association submitted a joint written response to the inquiry and
veterinary surgeon Robin Hargreaves gave oral evidence to the committee on
behalf of BVA in June.

In both our oral and written evidence to
the committee, BVA emphasised that a dog's behaviour, including how and when it
displays aggression, is largely dependent on its socialisation, rearing,
training and environmental circumstances, and called for the government to take
a more holistic approach to minimising the occurrence of dog bites, moving
towards legislation based on the ‘deed not breed' principle.

Commenting
on the report, British Veterinary Association President Simon Doherty said:

“This
is a strong endorsement of BVA's position on dangerous dogs. We are very
pleased to see that the report recommends a full-scale review of current dog
control legislation and policy to better protect both public safety and animal
welfare.

“BVA
has long campaigned for a total overhaul of the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act because
it targets specific breeds rather than deeds and gives a false impression that
dogs not on the banned list are ‘safe', thereby failing to properly protect the
public and their pets from attacks.

“Any
dog of any size has the capacity to be aggressive and dangerous,
particularly when it is not properly trained or socialised, so education about responsible dog ownership is key to
reducing these terrible cases of dog attacks we see in the headlines.

“We
hope that the report will lead to robust, fit-for-purpose legislation that
effectively tackles individual acts of aggression rather than banning entire
breeds.”

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