Wednesday, 31 March 2010

RSPCA Dog Licence will spend your money chasing bad legislation.

The RSPCA have today announced their wish to see a return of the failed dog licence. I was going to blog about this last night ready for 12.01am but was overcome with a fit of hysterical laughter so apologies for the delay. What made me giggle so much were the notes at the bottom of their release that give the figures on which they base their assumption. We have an estimated 10 million dogs in the UK.

The RSPCA survey asked 1,017 adults between the ages of 16-64 in Great Britain in February 2010, only 334 were dog owners.

Hardly earth shatteringly wonderful and worthy of all the hype is it?

What the RSPCA are claiming is that the return of a dog licence “would be hugely beneficial in addressing many animal welfare concerns stemming from overbreeding of dogs to a lack of traceable ownership.”
How?! Even with 100 percent compliance we are still not tackling the issues.

Being able to pay £20 or even £50 a year for a licence to help enforce our terrible canine legislation will not prevent anything. It won’t suddenly lead to me knowing all I need to know about dog ownership. I probably paid much more than that to own my dog so what does a few quid mean? Will paying that money mean my dog will not misbehave? Nope. Will paying that money mean I will source a better breeder next time I want a dog? Nope. It won’t stop back yard breeders…they already need a licence and we all know that means nothing!

The suggestion of 3rd party liability caused uproar and that actually had some use. A licence fee such as the RSPCA are proposing really is a dog tax, make no mistake on that.

Northern Ireland have had the dog licence for years so in theory should be way ahead of the rest of the UK in regards to animal welfare and stray dogs…yet their stray problem is the biggest in the UK with more dogs being destroyed there than the rest of the UK and Northern Ireland has a huge overbreeding/ puppy farming issue.

The suggestion from the RSPCA is that the money generated would be helpful. I have a question tho….

If money to improve things is so important, where are the RSPCA DEMANDS that Breed Specifc Legislation be repealed via Defras Consultation?

If money is needed surely this will be the first step for the organisation that claims it is anti BSL. The Met police alone have got an extra 1.5 million pounds added to their annual budget for dealing with so called “dangerous dogs” the huge majority of which are taken not because of their behaviour but because of their looks.

If money is needed lets repeal that first but the RSPCA have said NOTHING on it since the consultation began and instead ask you to pay for something that wont make any improvement on our current situation while allowing the mindless slaughter of dogs who have done nothing wrong.

I am sick of dead dogs. I am sick of hearing of dog incidents and thinking “this could so easily have been avoided” and I am sick of  the Government and various other organisations refusal to do anything to improve matters because they are more worried about their image.

There’s a wonderful slogan on the net. It says “You listened to a rumour and then you passed a lie, because of your ignorance I had to die”. Remember this if the RSPCA get their licence fee the next time a child is hurt or killed or a dog is killed because of how it looks.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Important update regarding Defra consultation – 20th March 2010

On 19th January DDA Watch managed to track down a Defra representative able to answer questions regarding the consultation. We asked several questions, including whether those overseas, in Northern Ireland and Scotland can take part and received the following information.

1. Firstly I would stress that the survey is simply one way of responding and is in no way favoured above any other form of response. We created the survey as we anticipated a large number of responses and thought a survey would be an easier way for some respondents to tell us their views. It also saves paper.

2. Responses in the post or by email are equally valid and there is no need to fill in the survey on a paper copy. A letter noting their views is equally valid as a response.

3. We have created a mechanism on the survey to prevent individuals filling it in more than once (unless they register on it with different email addresses). Therefore, we would not encourage people to fill in the survey and send in a written response. If you feel you cannot adequately express your views using the survey, please respond to the consultation in writing or by email.

4. Anybody can complete the survey or respond to the consultation, regardless of where they live, there is no block on the IP address according to location. However, the consultation only applies to dangerous dogs in England and Wales.

We also mentioned that many people may have already filed in the survey when in fact they may wish to elaborate on their views and received the following response.

I would discourage individuals from sending in more than one response to the consultation. If there are a small number of individuals who have already filled in the survey but feel they have more they wish to add, they could send in a written response. It would be helpful if these individuals then stated in their written response that they have already filled in the questionnaire. Once again, I would say that if any of your members feel they cannot express themselves fully by filling in the survey, please submit a written response rather than doing both.

We hope this information is useful however if anyone has any further questions please contact Rebecca Kenner via email : Please let us know of any responses that may be useful to the public as we will happily post them here to help ensure everyone has the right information.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Write to your MP and demand BSL is Repealed!

Whiel the Defra consultation is ongoing many would like to do more to help ensure their views are heard on BSL. We recommend members of the public contact their MPs and voice their opinions on the current and proposed legislation. Its easy to find your MPs details. Simply click HERE and enter your postcode into the box. This will show you who your MP is and their contact details.

In addition we have been asked to draft a template letter for those who wish to use it. Please note the letter only focusses on the Breed specific aspects of current UK legislation. you may wish to discuss many other points. Feel free to add to , change or write your own letter. If you would like to discuss other points but are unsure what to say, please feel free to contact us and we will help you draft a letter.

Please do not give up! Your dogs are counting on you!

Dear Member of Parliament

I am writing to you concerning the Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) 1991 (as amended) legislation.

The Dangerous Dogs Act was rushed into force almost 19 years ago in the hopes it would eradicate certain breeds and protect the public. 19 years later it has clearly failed in its task. Dogs thought to be prohibited pit bull types and in contravention of the DDA are usually seized and incarcerated pending breed identification and legal hearings to determine their fate. Over the past year the number of seized dogs held in police appointed kennels has risen sharply, especially in the areas of Merseyside and London. Despite this the number of reported bites or strikes to a person by dogs is said to be on the increase.

I firmly believe that Section One of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 is flawed and must be repealed in order that we can focus on truly irresponsible owners of all dogs regardless of the breed. No breed or type of dog is inherently dangerous with incorrect environment and upbringing more likely to lead to a dangerous dog. This means the responsibility rests with the owner of a dog, whatever breed or type the dog may be yet our legislation does not focus on the owner.

Figures supplied to anti BSL organisation DDA Watch show that over a ten month period the Metropolitan police force seized 498 dogs as potentially banned breeds. Only 28 of those dogs had also been taken alleged to have been “dangerously out of control in public”. This means 470 dogs were taken due to their physical characteristics and not their actions.

During the same time period the Metropolitan police seized a total of 86 dogs said to be out of control and the total cost for all dogs held by the Metropolitan police was £1,927,475.21. The taxpayer is covering this cost and it is a known fact that the DDA actually encourages the wrong people to own a dog.

BBC News recently interviewed a breeder of illegal dogs . I draw your attention to the following quote:

The other breeder, who gave his name as Gus, brought a four-month-old chocolate pit-bull bitch, destined to be a guard dog in a crack house.

He boasted of breeding top quality fighting dogs that could attract bets of thousands of pounds. According to Gus, demand was growing - there are not enough puppies to go around.

He said: "It's sort of a status symbol basically, having what's not allowed, what's illegal, having the biggest most vicious dog."

If pit bulls were legalised, he said, it would make a "huge difference" to how much money he could earn. Asked if it would put him out of business, he replied: "Most probably

I respectfully ask for your views on the matter and what your party is doing to repeal Breed Specific Legislation and ensure millions of pounds are no longer spent promoting irresponsible ownership.

I look forward to your views and reply on this issue.

Yours sincerely

Is your breed at risk from the Defra consultation ?

Dda Watch have had a large number of enquiries asking whether we believe the Government will add more breeds to the list of currently banned types. DDA Watch believe that unless people make a stand NOW there is every chance of more breed types being added.

In the notes that accompany the Defra consultation it states that many organisations believe BSL and banning of breeds does not work however it goes on to say:

“However many correspondents to Defra and some representatives of the local authorities take the view that the list of dogs specified should be further extended to protect the public. They believe breed specific legislation should include all bull breed types including Staffordshire bull terriers. It has also been suggested that other breeds such as the Japanese akita be added to the list of prohibited breeds.”

The Association of Chief Police Officers are also mentioned within the consultation. They state that while BSL is not easy to enforce, there is no alternative. There are alternatives, its just they don’t seem to be interested in those!

So we contacted the ACPO and asked them if they would be looking to add further breeds/types to the banned list and, if so, which breeds they hoped to add. Below is their response:

“Over the coming months, ACPO will be looking at all available options. I couldn’t rule out that ACPO would not advocate proscribing further breeds, but particular breeds are not the thrust of our concern. “

While particular breeds may not be the thrust of the ACPO concern, they clearly are to some who have contacted Defra. Their failure to rule out the addition of more breeds means that your breed IS at risk.

It is time to band together and fight against BSL while pushing for fair and effective laws aimed at the IRRESPONSIBLE owners of all dogs, whatever that breed of dog may be. We must act on this now, before its too late.

Please join our fan page on facebook and help repeal Breed Specific Legislation DDA Watch Fan Page before your dog is next.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

When is a public consultation not a public consultation?

I have a joke for you today it goes like this......

Q)When is a public consultation not a public consultation?

 A) When its one being held by the U.K Government.

Sadly this indeed seems to be true following the news that Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has annouced today that the Government has ruled OUT a proposal for all dog owners to be forced to have third party liability insurance for their dogs. The move comes just ONE week after they first announced the idea and started a public consultation...a consultation that still has 11 weeks to run.

It doesnt matter wether you are for compulsory insurance or against...the Government arent listening to you. They have already made up their minds. So now ask yourself a question : "What DO I care about?" Do you care about BSL? Do you want it repealed? Do you care if your breed is the next banned breed? Maybe you have thoughts on compulsory chipping or the introduction of "dangerously out of control" into your home  after all, an Englishmans home is his castle and the Government are trying to bust through your doors with a whole new stack of legislation aimed at your private property.

Whatever it is you do care about and do have an opinion on, todays move simply goes to show the Government dont care and arent listening. If they can make a decision on one point without waiting to hear the opinions they asked for then you can expect the same with all the other points.

So what do we do about?

Well we fill in that consultation regardless of what the Government say and we speak out louder and more often than ever before. It may be that if the masses get their say then the Government may have no choice but to listen. If not, the consultation is over and the Government tell us they are taking out views into account, when the Government do exactly what they intended to do all along and when the situation goes to a whole new low we will be proven right. And we will continue to show the Government for the joke it currently is.

When it comes to improving dog ownership anywhere in the world, there is only one way to actually get any further forward and that is to listen to the dog OWNERS and not the Government.

Monday, 15 March 2010

London Tax payers spend millions on unworkable law

London taypayers have picked up a huge bill of £1,927,475.21 for just ten months of enforcing the unworkable Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

The figures, released to DDAWatch via Freedom of Information requests show that between 28th Febuary 2009 and 1st Jan 2010 the Metropolitian Police seized 498 dogs as under section 1 of the Act as alledged pit bull types.  470 of those dogs had committed no crime yet would still spend time in secure kennels at the taxpayers expense.

The FOI went on to state that 86 dogs of all breeds where held as under section 3 of the Act  as "dangerously out of control in public" Only 28 of of those thought to be pit bull type where also alledged to have been dangerously out of control. 15 dogs where held under cruelty legislation. The FOI does not specify if those 15 dogs where thought to be legal breeds or not.

With claims of an increase in dog bites and the massive overbreeding situation leaving many authorites having to pick up the pieces, it really is time we focused on irresponsible owners and put our money into tackling those...not dogs that look a certain way.

Its time to repeal section 1 of the Dangerous dogs act 1991.

Dogs Trust call for total repeal of Breed Specific Legislation


Dogs Trust is delighted that the Government has announced a long awaited consultation on measures to tackle the issue of Dangerous Dogs. It has been apparent for many years that the existing Dangerous Dogs Act doesn’t work and that it urgently needs revising to help protect the general public and dog welfare.

Dogs Trust has been lobbying the Government about the benefits of compulsory microchipping for the past twelve months. The charity believes that permanent identification must form a central part of any new dog legislation so it is deeply gratifying that this has been included as part of the consultation. Just a third of dog owners currently have their dog microchipped, but should this become a legal requirement more stray dogs can be reunited with their owners, thus ultimately reducing the 9,000 dogs that are destroyed by Local Authorities every year. A recent survey conducted by Dogs Trust shows that 88% of dog owners would be in favour of such a law.

Similarly compulsory third party insurance is a sensible precaution to protect both human and animal victims of dog attacks. Many household insurance policies will include this as long as the dog is in the insured person’s control at the time. There are also membership schemes such as the one Dogs Trust offers where for just £20 a year, any dog within the household has third party liability insurance up to a million pounds per claim.

There is a real need to extend the existing dangerous dog laws to cover private property as well as public spaces but exemptions will need to be carefully thought through. For example if a dog were to bite an intruder in the home such as a burglar, would their owners be exempt from punishment?

It is really positive to see a joined up approach from Defra and the Home Office in tackling the issue of irresponsible dog ownership. However it is essential that this is regarded as a social rather than a dog issue. It is unacceptable that a young person feels it is necessary to own a dog as a form of protection in order to feel safe on the streets.

In terms of what appears to be missing from the consultation, Dogs Trust would have liked to see the total repeal of all breed specific legislation and more consideration given to the penalties awarded to irresponsible owners including possible custodial sentences. The charity is currently lobbying for the introduction of increased penalties along the lines of dog owner ‘ASBOS’ which firmly place responsibility for the dog’s behaviour on the owner rather than looking at the breed of the dog in question

Defra – What do they mean in the consultation

Defra – What do they mean in the consultation?

DDA Watch have had a huge number of enquiries regarding the Defra consultation and the meaning of some of the questions asked. In order to help the public fully understand what Defra mean we have drawn up the following explanatory guide. Please note it is a guide only! If you have already filled in the survey and have misunderstood a question please contact defra and ask for advice on how to proceed. If there are any questions which have not been aswered below please either post in the comments box at the bottom or email We WILL answer every question within 24 hours. Please do not fill in the survey if you are unsure what a question means as this will only create an incorrect outcome..

Option 1 –an extension of criminal law (i.e section 3 of the 1991 act) to all places including private property. Questions one to three.

These questions are asking if section 3 (dangerous out of control) of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 should be extended to cover private property. This means that if a dog acts dangerously out of control in private (for example the dogs own home) the authorities can take action and seize the dog. At present the 1991 Act does not cover private property where the dog has a right to be. However we do currently have the 1871 Dogs Act which allows action to be taken against a dog/owner on private if the dog is dangerous. The 1871 Act is civil meaning anyone can bring the case and has a lower burden of proof.

Option 2 : Additions or amendments to (including possible repeal) of Section 1 of the 1991 Act - questions 4-9

These questions are all related to breed specific legislation. Breed specific legislation is the name given to laws that target certain types or breeds of dogs over all others. It is important to remember that in the U.K we ban four “types” of dogs. A type is any dog that has a substantial number of characteristics of a banned type. This can include legal breeds and cross breeds.

Repealed means removed. So questions asking if BSL should be repealed mean “should BSL be removed?”

Option 3 – repeal of the 1997 Dangerous Dogs Act to prevent any more dogs being added to the index – questions 10-15

The “exemption” refers to the fact that dogs deemed illegal breeds may be allowed to live under certain conditions at present.

If the exemption in the 1997 act was removed any dog deemed a banned type would have to be killed. They would not be allowed to be registered and live.

The exemption currently has the following restrictions: the dog must be muzzled while in a public place and kept on a lead and held by a person over 16 years of age. A public place includes your car and shared entrances/hallways in flats plus communal gardens. The dog must be chipped and tattooed. The dog must have 3rd party liability insurance. The dog must be neutered. The dog cannot be rehomed nor given away and is not allowed to stray. The dog cannot stay anywhere other than the registered address for more than 30 days without informing the Index. Tighter restrictions would be extra restrictions on top of the ones already mentioned above.

An “alternative monitoring system to the index” would mean dogs would still be registered but may well have tighter restrictions with regard to monitoring them.

Option 4 – the introduction of dog control notices – questions 16 – 23

Dog Control Notices could be used to force owners to carry out any number of actions. Dog Control notices are to apply to all dogs as far as the consultation reads. The consultation does not appear to give any suggestion of what actions could be taken but it could include orders to: muzzle a dog, neuter a dog, keep a dog on lead. The consultation also suggests that Dog Control Notices could apply to private property too. There is no suggestion of who could run the scheme or how it would be applied in private or public.

Without knowing what where and how its difficult to answer these questions!

Option 5 A requirement that all dogs be covered by third party liability insurance questions 24- 28

This section asks if all dog owners should have to have 3rd party liability insurance for their dogs. 3rd party liability insurance insures you against any damage caused by your dog, often to any object, person or animal. It is NOT health insurance.

At present many health insurance packages already include 3 rd party liability insurance… Not all do however so check the fine print! Many buildings and homes insurance also includes 3 rd party liability insurance for your pets. Again, not all do so check the fine print. Finally the Dogs Trust offer 3rd party liability insurance to all members of the Dogs trust. There insurance covers up to ten dogs of your own for up to 1 million pounds per claim. Dogs trust membership costs £20 per year or £10 if over 60 years old. Lifetime membership costs £500 .

Option 6 - requirement that all dogs or puppies are microchipped – questions 29 – 35

This is fairly straightforward and ask if all dogs or all puppies after a certain date should be micro chipped. It does not mention the alternative of a tattoo.

Option 7 More effective enforcement of the existing law including a consolidation of existing statues into one new updated act – questions 36- 40

This basically asks if all the current legislation should be removed as lots of different pieces of legislation and made into one single piece. For example instead of having the Dangerous Dogs act 1991 and the Dogs Act 1871 we will simply have one Act with a new name.

It asks if more effective enforcement of current legislation would help but does not explain how it will make the current legislation more effectively enforced.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

One Dog at a Time - Saving the strays of Helmand.

One Dog at a Time - Saving the strays of Helmand.

When an email popped into my in box asking if we would review a book I was interested. The blurb in the email read:

During his tour of duty in Helmand Province, Marine Pen Farthing is appalled by the horrors of a local dog fight and intervenes to free the victims. One of these dogs finds his way into the Marine compound - and into Pen's heart. Soon other strays are being drawn to the sanctuary provided by Pen's makeshift pound, including one young mum who crawls under the compound fence carrying her newborn pups to safety. But as his time in Helmand draws to an end, Pen cannot leave the dogs of Now Zad to their own fates. He begins hatching plans to help them escape to a better life…

When the book arrived I put it on the side. I would read it later. Today (a good week or so later!) I picked up the book for a little downtime, my downtime ended when I finished the book several hours later.

Pen Farthings harrowing TRUE account had me hooked. I cheered as Pen faced a group of dog fighters and resisted the urge to “smash one of them into tomorrow”. I grinned as Pen and friends acquired dog after dog and it slowly dawned on them they had no plan on what to do with the dogs when they left their posting. I laughed as they described the dog’s exploits; one in particular seemed to be as scatty as one of my own dogs. I cried…oh god did I cry as some of the canine friends we had been introduced to never made it to a home of their own.

I finished reading this book a couple of hours ago. I still have the lump in my throat. I don't want to give to much away about the story and the ups and downs so I'll stop there. I have read “Marley and Me” which went on to to be a massive big screen hit. I have read “Walking Ollie”, and many other tales of the human canine bond.

But 'One Dog at a Time' is the best I have EVER read and is not getting the attention it deserves. Pen Farthing and Nowzad dogs, the charity he set up following his remarkable situation in war torn Afghanistan are not getting the attention they deserve.

This book is not just the story of a dog, it's the story of one mans attempt to do the right thing, when doing the right thing appears to be an impossible task.

Please take a look at Nowzad's website and please support them in any way you can. One Dog at a Time is out on paperback on 15th April.  Please buy the book and see what happens when you take the dog fighters away from the dog.

We have 5 copies to give away to the first five (uk only sorry!) people who email us with the following question:

Nowzad dogs is a registered Charity…what's their mission statement?
Email your answers too

Friday, 12 March 2010

Uk , BSL and how the responsible fight back.

This week has been one of the most amazing week as far as Breed specific legislation goes, that the UK has seen in 13 years. This is the week that Defra actually said the "R" word and opened a public consultation on UK legislation that may well finally lead to a full repeal (removal) of our breed bans.

For DDAWatch volunteers the week has been frantic. We have been inundated by the media and the public. We have been spread thin and yet despite this our support base has grown quicker than ever before, all wanting to see an end to BSL within the UK.

Some of our supporters have currently legal breeds, Staffordshire bull terriers, Rottweilers, American bulldogs, Mastiff and so on. Whatever their breed or cross breed they too are standing up and pushing for a full repeal. Why? Because they know that all the while BSL remains their breed or cross will never be safe.

BSL cannot work. It is flawed. We can prove it quite easily.

Defra for example will have us believe that BSL is needed because these "types" of dogs are inherently dangerous (we disagree). Defra would tell us that these dogs have something in their genes that makes them unsafe.

Yet I could own a dog and a bitch. They could have a litter of puppies and then the courts could say the dog and bitch are both pit bull type and illegal. You would think, if these dogs are inherently dangerous, that the puppies would all be inherently dangerous too. But that is not how the law works.

The puppies may not be deemed "pit bull type" Half of them may be deemed type and the other half not type...none of them may be deemed type. It all depends on how the dog measures up and no two dogs are the same.

It kinda blows the idea that dogs of a certain type are "inherently dangerous" right out the water doesnt it?!

Some have questioned the push for repeal, cautious that we are reaching too high. Are we? No. If we refuse to push for repeal we are not protecting the dogs nor the public. We need better legislation to force irresponsible owners away from owning a dog...any dog. We need legislation to stop irresponsible breeders breeding a dog...any dog. We need to stop striking out at responsible people with good dogs simply because
of how that dog looks.

BSL in the UK will not continue in my name. I will make a stand against it and demand that repeal. I will make a stand against irresponsible owners and breeders and try and ensure public safety.

I will fight in defence of the dog and in memory of those dogs who will never have their chance to know a life without being persecuted for the way they look.

Will you?

Join our Facebook page now and help repeal BSL

Think different, and make a difference.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Important - Explanation of option in Defra consultation

A  number of people have contacted DDAWatch regarding the meaning of part of the Defra consultation.

The query relates to questions in Option 3: Repeal of the 1997 Dangerous Dogs Act to prevent any more dogs being added to the Index

The specific confusion  is focused on what is meant by question 11 which states:

Do you think removing the the exemption introduced by the 1997 amendment would allow a more effective enforcement of the current dangerous dogs legislation?

If the exemption introduced in 1997 amendment was removed it would mean that all dogs deemed to be a banned type would not be allowed to be registered and instead, would only be allowed to be destroyed.

If you have misunderstood the question please contact defra and ask for advice on how to address the issue. Please do contact us via if you are unsure of any questions meaning and we will explain if we know the answer or find out for you.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The Mayhew response to government plans to toughen dangerous dog law

With many statements flying about with regard to defras proposals I thought its worth drawing attention to this one from the Mayhew. The Mayhew Animal Home is one of the busiest sanctuaries within the London area. They not only provide sanctuary for many of londons stray dogs but also offer a very popular free neutering scheme for bull breeds and bull breed crosses and have a number of Animal Welfare Officers who are in the community helping to promote responsible ownership. They are at the forefront..they want a repeal of B.S.L. Please read their statement below.

Response to government plans to toughen dangerous dog law

The Mayhew Animal Home, an animal welfare charity working at the forefront of this issue in London, welcomes the recognition that change to the Dangerous Dogs Act is long overdue, having witnessed firsthand the horrifying consequences from the misuse of certain breeds in our capital and the ineffectiveness of present legislation to address the root causes of this escalating problem. However, it must be remembered that the dog welfare issues now prevalent in our society are not just as a result of “dangerous dogs”, but basically down to indiscriminate breeding, easy accessibility to and widespread irresponsible ownership of dogs across society as a whole.

Yes, we need to tackle the issue of anti-social behaviour with dogs, and amendments in legislation is a part of this, but it change will only happen if there is a wider overhaul of dog welfare strategy in the country, which should have as its basis prevention rather than draconian cure.

The Mayhew would welcome the opportunity to bring its wealth of experience on this issue to the debate as it was one of the first, forwarding thinking animal welfare organisations which has long been working with local authorities in London, the Metropolitan police and RSPCA to address this issue in a constructive manner.

The Mayhew believes that effective legislation must address issues of public safety, must place greater onus on the owners of these animals, not the dogs themselves. It must also primarily address the issue of where these dogs are coming from in the first place and why they are so misused and abused, otherwise nothing will change. The Mayhew would advocate a more over-reaching agenda as follows:

- A repeal of breed specific legislation

- Make compulsory micro-chipping, which alone will not address the issue, part of a registration package for responsible dog ownership, which should include animals being neutered, vaccinated, checked regularly and insured.

- Tighter regulations placed on the trade in pets from pet shops, on the Internet and other forms of media, and priority given to the stricter monitoring of both registered and “backstreet” breeders.

- Government/local councils to invest in designated and trained personnel, such as Animal Welfare Officers, who can work alongside animal welfare charities, both with local residents and pet owners to prevent the escalation of this crisis and make our communities safer for animals and people alike.

- Government to consider funding neutering programmes, which presently many animal welfare charities strive to fund themselves with extremely limited resources

Caroline Yates, CEO, The Mayhew Animal Home

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Why Breed Specific Legislation must go – no half measures.

Why Breed Specific Legislation must go – no half measures.

Breed specific legislation is alive and well within the U.K. Section one of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 makes four breed types illegal. In Northern Ireland a dog deemed to be a banned breed is killed, regardless of how good a temperament it may have. In England, Scotland and Wales a dog deemed a banned breed has two options, it can die or it can be allowed to live provided its owner abides by a number of restrictions.

Today Defra announced a consultation on a range of ideas to tackle the issue of “dangerous dogs” and they include the potential repeal of BSL.

What this potentially means is simple. The current banned breeds will become legal again. They will be allowed to live out their lives, be rehomed and no longer be targeted for the way they look. They will be treated the same as any other dog. If they appear to be dangerous then action could be taken, they will not be “above the law”.

In order to make any change to the DDA there has to be a change of law. If we are too see any change of law it should be one that stops dogs being targeted due to their appearance. 13 years ago the law was changed to allow dogs deemed banned breeds to live according to the restrictions and most though that was a step forward. But innocent dogs are still dying. A registered dog cannot be rehomed. If an owner of registered dog cannot keep that dog, that dog will die. People may lose their job, their home, become ill and that dog will die if that owner can no longer keep the dog.

Many tenancies will not allow banned breeds, even registered ones, to be in their properties. Owners may not be able to find alternative accommodation and those dogs will then die.

A suggestion has been put forward to allow for owner led registration of banned breeds. I once would have agreed with this but cannot anymore.

I see many good people with good dogs be accused of owning a pit bull type. A pit bull type dog is any dog deemed to have a substantial number of characteristics of an outdated breed standard that’s no longer used for that breed. Many of the people I speak with want to argue that their dog is not a pit bull type, but they don’t because they want it over quickly.

If owner led registration comes in only those who know they have a type dog will go forward. The MAJORITY who have no idea or firmly feel their dog is not a banned type will not. So the authorities will still come for the dogs and then an owner has two choices…agree that their dog is a banned type and agree to the long restrictions, all the while hoping they can keep their dog for life as otherwise the dog will die; or having their dog seized and taken section one. Don’t kid ourselves that with owner led registration the option to seize will wont.

Puppies born to parents that one or both are deemed type, will not be able to go into homes and they too will die.

If ownerled registration is the next step please remember that on March 9th 2010 we first warned that other breeds would faolow. When the stafford, the mastiff, the american bulldog all get added and resticted, remember that we warned this would happen.

So please, when you are looking at what should be done about BSL and the DDA, please don’t accept half measures. For the dogs sake.

We must have a full repeal.

Repeal Breed specific legislation…now!

Repeal Breed specific legislation…now!

Proposals have been put forward today, Tuesday 9th March in an attempt to tackle the issue of dangerous dogs. The proposals include compulsory micro chipping, third party liability insurance, doggy “asbos” and the repeal or strengthening of Section One of the Dangerous Dogs Act.

DDAWatch appeal to all owners to take the time to participate in the consultation, which runs until June 2010.

DDAWatch believe that while chipping and third party liability are something we recommend for all owners, it will not solve the problem of irresponsible owners. Dog control orders could be a large can of worms which has the potential to further push dogs outside of society and leading to further incidents.

The consideration of extending section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act may make very little difference. We currently have in force the 1871 Dogs Act which allows action to be taken against the owner of any dog not kept under proper control that shows itself to be dangerous. This applies to private and public property. The court has absolute discretion on what to do with a dog including destruction and control orders. Owners can also be forced to pay costs. The authorities can take action against owners rather than the “victim” The plus of the Dogs Act is the burden of proof is on the balance of probabilities rather than beyond reasonable doubt which is the burden that would be used if the DDA is extended to private property.

The only clear improvement would be the repeal of Section One of the Act. The Act is flawed and has failed, costing millions of pounds of taxpayers money in the meantime.

In 1997 the Dangerous Dogs Act amendment came into force allowing dogs that did not pose a danger to the public to live with strict conditions. There where good reasons for that: People fought through the highest courts for their dogs lives. Cases went on for years and the public wasn’t any better off. So the amendment was brought in. 13 years later and the issue of dangerous dogs still exist and more and more people are calling for a total repeal. BSL is flawed and MUST be repealed. Half measures where accepted 13 years ago but it didn’t go far enough. We wont accept half measures any longer.

It has now been nearly 19 years since the act came into force and we need to instead concentrate on ensuring all owners have a standard degree of knowledge and that dog ownership and breeding is a right that is earned by a Dog Ownership Test.

Its time for change. Repeal section one now!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Saving Bruce...Update March 2010

On Tuesday 9th March 2010 a further appeal hearing will take place to determine the future of a Bruce "a good dog".

Bruce was seized on 19th September 2007 under the Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) 1991. His crime was simply the way he looked. Bruce has never hurt anyone nor shown any aggression to anyone. Dog friendly and people friendly Bruce has been held in secret kennels for nearly 3 years at the taxpayers expense.  While in the kennels Bruces health suffered greatly and he had to have his tail amputed. Despite this his temprement is still fantastic.

Its time Bruce went home where his family and waiting and hoping.

For more information on the story so far please see the links below.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

End of month figures - Febuary 2010

Total number of dogs assissted: 36

Of which:

27 dogs are currently being held in secure kennels as alledged "pit bull types" as the case is still ongoing.

One dog found "guilty" of being a banned breed but allowed onto the Index of Exempted Dogs.

Two charges of pit bull types where dropped on appeal

One section three resulted in a six month control order

One dog left at home pending identification

Four cases under other legislation

None of the dogs we have assisted in Febuary were ordered to be destroyed.