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NAWT supports new EFRA report on 'Controlling Dangerous Dogs'

NAWT supports the bold and wide-reaching EFRA report on ‘Controlling Dangerous Dogs’ which is published today following an inquiry launched in May this year. The EFRA Committee concludes that current Dangerous Dogs legislation is failing to protect the public and has called for a full-scale review of existing dog control strategies.

The report also concludes that the focus on Breed Specific Legislation is misguided. (Currently four breeds are banned in the UK of which the Pit Bull is the best known) The Committee stated that, ‘their evidence was clear that the law is riddled with inconsistencies, harms animal welfare unnecessarily, and offers false reassurances to policymakers and the general public. All dogs can be dangerous, and we can’t ban all dogs that might one day bite someone’.

In its submission to the inquiry, NAWT expressed concern that the Government’s current approach has not been effective in protecting the public from dog attacks. We stated that the misconception has developed that breed is the driver for a dog’s behaviour, whereas in reality, the responsibility for preventing dog attacks lies with the humans and not the dog. Greater emphasis needs to be placed on the circumstances leading up to and surrounding any dog bite incident, and dog owners need to be aware of the high-risk scenarios for dog attacks and be able to take steps to eliminate that risk. You can read NAWT’s submission here.

The Committee has called for an alternative dog control model to be developed that focused on prevention though education, early intervention, and consistently robust sanctions for offenders.

Clare Williams, Chief Executive, NAWT: "The ERFA report is a bold step in the right direction with regard to overhauling the outdated Dangerous Dogs Act legislation. At long last we are seeing greater recognition of the fact that the dog's breed is not the reason for these attacks, there are so many human-related factors as well. Education lies at the root of this and we particularly welcome the recommendations for childhood education and dog awareness courses for low to mid-level offences.

"A big question remains among those of us campaigning for change is how seriously will the government take these recommendations? This is a great start but we need to continue to press for concrete solutions as laid out in today's report."

Among the Committee’s recommendations to Government are:

  • Removing the prohibition on transferring banned breeds to new owners. The Committee found the prohibition to be misguided, as it results in the unnecessary destruction of good-tempered dogs that could have been safely re-homed, which is currently a particularly unpleasant challenge for rescues.
  • An independent review into the factors behind dog aggression and attacks, and whether banned breeds pose an inherently greater threat. The Committee raised serious concerns about the robustness of the Government’s evidence base on BSL, and highlighted evidence showing that some legal breeds can pose just as great a risk to public safety as illegal breeds.
  • Mandatory dog awareness courses for owners involved in low to mid-level offences. A compulsory training course, similar to speed awareness courses for drivers.
  • Awareness campaigns to encourage responsible ownership and improve childhood education on staying safe around dogs.
  • A new Dog Control Act to consolidate the existing patchwork of legislation and provide enforcement authorities with new powers.

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