Vets call for complete overhaul of Dangerous Dogs Act

Vets call for complete overhaul of Dangerous Dogs Act

The Government must adopt an evidence-based, ‘deed not breed’ approach to dog control legislation, two leading veterinary bodies have said.

Ahead of the 30th anniversary of of the Dangerous Dogs Act (1991), the British Veterinary Association and the British Small Animal Veterinary Association have called for Section 1 of the act to be repealed.

That is the section which prohibits ownership of certain breed types perceived to pose a risk to public safety; including Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, and Fila Brasileiro.

The BVA said there had been no reduction in the incidence of aggressive behaviour and dog-biting incidents since the Act was introduced, and that defining particular breeds as ‘dangerous’ can lead to a lack of emphasis on the role of responsible ownership in preventing canine aggression.

Senior Vice President Daniella Dos Santos said: “We have 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’.

“Evidence gathered as part of our recent policy update further supports our view that breed-specific legislation has been ineffective in its intended aims, thereby failing to properly protect the public or safeguard dog welfare over the last three decades.

“We would like to see robust, fit-for-purpose legislation that effectively tackles individual acts of aggression and irresponsible ownership, rather than banning entire breeds. We’ll be writing to the Home Office and Defra and will be joining up with other campaign organisations in the lead-up to the Act’s 30th anniversary in August to push for effective, evidence-based solutions.”

Recommendations set out in BVA and BSAVA’s updated policy include:

  • Repealing Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act (1991)
  • Effective enforcement and consolidation of existing dog control legislation across the UK.
  • Establishing a centralised dog biting incident database.
  • Promoting safe dog-human interactions and responsible ownership through education and campaign programmes.

BSAVA President Sheldon Middleton, above,  added: “We would like to see a more focussed approach to enforcement and dog control provisions. Consolidation and rationalisation of legislation, which is currently fragmented in nature, would facilitate progress in this area alongside allocation of dedicated resources to support enforcement and coordination of services in tackling issues at local level.”

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