UK Members Of Parliament To Reexamine Breed Restriction Legislation

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
Legislators in the United Kingdom are looking at the effectiveness of a 1991 law that bans certain dog breeds.

A 1991 law called the Dangerous Dogs Act banned certain breeds in the United Kingdom, and some Members of Parliament are looking at whether or not that Act has actually been effective in reducing the number of dog attacks.

The breeds banned are Pit Bull Terriers, Japanese Tosas, Dogo Argentinos and Fila Brasileiros. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) says that the law is unjust and ineffective, and should be replaced if the public is to be properly protected and animal welfare is taken into account.

Related: Missouri Legislator Proposes to Eliminate Breed-Specific Bans Across The State

According to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, hospital admissions for dog attacks have risen by 76% in the last ten years, and MPs are going to look at the legislation to see where it is failing and what can be done to protect the public and animals.

The outdated legislation also holds any owner whose dog acts out of control in a dangerous manner to be charged with an offense. Though the bill was originally supposed to reduce dog attacks and out of control behavior, numbers simply say that’s not the case.

The RSPCA said that of 37 people who were killed by dogs from 1991-2016, 28 of the attacks were not by banned breed dogs.

Officials with the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee will look at whether the law really is preventing dog attacks, and what changes, if any, are needed based on lessons that other countries’ laws can show. Neil Parish chairs the committee and said that though four dog breeds were banned in the UK in 1991, at least 70% of dog-related deaths happened at the hands of breeds not banned.

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He says that it may be wiser to look at a dog’s temperament when looking at whether or not it poses danger to humans or other dogs. Additionally, he is aware of the fact that many view the banned breeds as wonderful pets.

The Royal Kennel Club and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home have long criticized the law, claiming it was not only ineffective but unfair to dogs as the problem is more an owner issue than a dog breed issue. The RSPCA is known for protesting ‘breed specific’ legislation as there is no evidence that the banned breeds are any more aggressive than others, and that dogs are too often unfairly treated.

Samantha Gaines is an animal welfare expert with the RSPCA and said that they are happy that the MPs are taking the concerns of animal welfare organizations seriously. Sh said that breed specific legislation does not protect the public and compromises the welfare of animals. As a result, too many dogs have been kenneled for no reason, or sadly, put down, and still dog attacks continue to result in death.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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