Battersea Dogs and Cats Home Call For Review of Dangerous Dogs Act
The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 is “flawed” say Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and should be reviewed. Intended to protect people from being attacked by aggressive dogs, the act bans certain breeds but Battersea believe that it should target bad owners instead of their dogs.
The law bans the pit bull terrier, Japanese tosa, dogo argentino and fila braziliero breeds which may be put down if they are discovered. Battersea assert that this is leading to many well behaved and innocent dogs being put down unnecessarily. This practice does not enhance the safety of the public. Any dog has the potential for aggression if cared for improperly. Battersea do not believe that the law has improved public safety at all.
Since 1991 there have been 30 fatalities as a result of dog attacks. These involved 16 children and 14 adults. These attacks, and others across the world have involved a variety of breeds. The pit bull has been responsible for what appears to be a disproportionately high number of aggressive acts but this could be because they have been the most likely choice of breed for irresponsible people. Had Labradors been in these people’s hands then it is possible that they would now be getting a bad press.
The Most Aggressive Breeds
Indeed there has been much research into the aggressive behaviour of dogs and this tends to reveal what some might consider to be surprising culprits as the most aggressive breeds of dog. One study named dachshunds, chihuahuas and jack russels as the most aggressive dogs. Jack russells have been responsible for fatalities in children. These breeds are aggressive but small and so do not present the same threat as larger, more powerful breeds. Nonetheless, this research does tend to indicate that the current legislation is problematic.
Battersea Dogs and Cats Home have surveyed 215 canine behaviour experts seeking their opinions as to the most likely causes of dog attacks. 74% of the experts said that breed was either irrelevant or only slightly important in determining the level of aggression in a dog. 86% stated that the way a dog is reared by its owner was an important factor in its level of aggression.
The home has revealed that in 2015 it took in 91 pit bull terriers which the law forced them to euthanize. 71% of the dogs were good natured and could have been successfully rehomed.
The Dangerous Dogs act was amended in 1997. The mandatory destruction of banned breeds was removed leaving the fate of the animals in the hands of the courts. If an owner is perceived to be a responsible carer, they can keep their dog but must adhere to strict conditions including the muzzling of the dog in public.
The controversy is clearly set to continue. The Dangerous Dog act is obviously flawed and most experts agree that it should focus on the owners and not the specific breeds of dog. Pressure is mounting on the Government to make changes. It will be interesting to see what happens.