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Charities and vets urge overhaul of Dangerous Dogs Act

CHARITIES and veterinary organisations have joined forces to call for a revision of the UK’s dangerous dog legislation, as concerns rise over breed-specific regulations.

The Dog Control Coalition, which consists of organisations including the RSPCA, Dogs Trust, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Blue Cross, the British Veterinary Association, Hope Rescue, the Kennel Club, and the Scottish SPCA, is challenging the breed-specific focus of current laws. Instead, they advocate for measures addressing the root causes of dog aggression incidents.

Recently, there have been calls to add the XL Bully to the UK’s list of prohibited breeds, alongside the pit bull terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, and Fila Braziliero. However, the coalition labels such measures as “flawed” and suggests they fail to genuinely ensure public safety.

This demand for change coincides with the 32nd anniversary of the Dangerous Dogs Act on 12 August. Despite three decades of breed-specific regulations, NHS data indicates a rise in dog bite incidents. The 2022/23 statistics show 9,366 recorded dog bites, a jump from 8,819 the prior year.

The Coalition warns that broadening the ‘banned list’ based on breed could lead to the unjust euthanising of more dogs, without addressing the root issues behind dog aggression.

Dr Samantha Gaines, RSPCA dog welfare expert, representing the Coalition, stated that the current breed-specific legislation has not been effective over its 32-year existence. She emphasised that the key lies not in the breed but in dog behaviour and owner responsibility.

Dr Gaines pointed out that breed is not a consistent indicator of a dog’s propensity for aggression. She stressed the need for non-discriminatory solutions that promote responsible ownership and early intervention to avert potential incidents.

The RSPCA has initiated a campaign urging the public to contact their MPs to support a revision of the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Further details on this campaign are available on the RSPCA website.