I meant to publish this a couple of weeks ago but due to technical difficulties I lost half the post and have only just got round to re-writing it.
On Saturday 16th July I attended an Anti BSL protest organised by DDA Watch.
The Dangerous Dogs Act (1991) was enacted in the UK in order to reduce dog bite injuries. The act has not had the desired effect and dogs bites have been on the rise since it came into force. On top of this innocent dogs that have no history of aggression continue to be seized and destroyed due to the criteria under Section 1 of the act.
Section 1 states that four dog breeds are banned in the UK. The most relevant one is the pit bull terrier. In the UK this is a mixed breed so it is difficult to determine whether a dog fits into this category. A set of measurements are used to determine whether a dog is “type”. Again a dog can be seized and assessed when it has no history of aggressive behaviour. The dog must have 60% of the criteria to be classed as type. This often leads to some dogs from the same litter being classed as pit bulls and others not.
These cases of innocent dogs take a lot of time for the courts, costs to the police (and therefore the taxpayer) and heartache for the owners who cannot see or even know where there dog is being held once it has been seized, often for many months.
If a dog is classed at type it can be exempted if the courts believe it poses no danger to the public. The dog must be microchipped (as all dogs must be in the UK from April 2016), insured against 3rd party injury, kept on a lead and muzzled in public. Dog and owner must live at the same address for all but 30 days a year and if this 30 day rule is breached the dog may be destroyed. Dogs cannot also not be rehomed if the owner can no longer keep them due to issues such as housing. Ownership can only be transferred if the owner has died or is terminally ill.
This is a complex law that is ineffective and needs to be amended or repealed. Education is key to reduce dog bites and ensures owners are responsible for their dogs especially around children.
I first learnt about the issues with the Dangerous Dogs Act through my Sister-in-law who is a veterinary nurse who works in the charity sector. Along with two other nurses they set up The SaveABulls campaign to challenge this law and give a perspective from the veterinary profession. From their Facebook page –
There are many other groups who campaign to repeal this outdated law.
The singer Professor Green recently presented a documentary on the Dangerous Dogs Act for the BBC which can be viewed in the UK here until the end of 2016.
As well as protesting the law we were also there to remember the dogs that had suffered and been put to death under the legislation.
If you are interested in furthering the cause I suggest you visit the campaign groups’ pages to see any events that are going on in your area. Through these sites there are also links to petitions and templates to contact your local MP.