(BVA Release) Vets have welcomed the Government consultation on reforming dangerous dogs legislation but called on politicians not to let the issue become a political football during the forthcoming election campaign.
Responding to the announcement by the Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs that Defra will consult the public on reform of the legislation and compulsory microchipping, Professor Bill Reilly, President of the BVA, said:
“The BVA has been lobbying the Government and Opposition hard for a change in dangerous dogs legislation and so we are delighted that the Government is now considering reforming the hugely unpopular and ineffective Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.
“The BVA believes very strongly in the principle of deed not breed – targeting dogs for their actions, not what they look like – and we hope to see new legislation that tackles the actions of irresponsible pet owners that can cause dogs to become aggressive.
“We therefore support the concept of control notices, which is being pursued in Scotland through the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Bill, and the proposal for compulsory microchipping to ensure all dogs can be identified.
“However, the failure of the 1991 Act is rooted in the fact that it was drafted in a highly political knee-jerk response to a number of incidents. Politicians should learn from these mistakes and resist using the issue as a political football during the General Election campaign.
“The welfare charities, vets and Kennel Club have reached consensus on the need for the law to change and politicians of all parties should aim to agree the way forward.”
The issue was raised by Professor Reilly at the BVA’s annual London dinner, attended by Defra Minister Lord Davies of Oldham, on 16 February. Prof Reilly said:
“The problems caused by dangerous dogs will never be solved until dog owners appreciate that they are responsible for the actions of their animals. Rather than singling out individual breeds the BVA strongly believes in targeting individual aggressive dogs.
“With concern about weapon dogs rising and a new Parliament on the horizon looking for fresh ideas, the time is surely right for it to be at the top of the political agenda.”
The BVA is a member of the Dangerous Dogs Act Study Group (DDASG) which campaigns for a change in the law. Other members include the Kennel Club, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Blue Cross, Dogs Trust, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, Wandsworth Borough Council and Wood Green Animal Shelters.
For more information about the BVA’s position on dangerous dogs click here.