The current approach to dog control is misguided and does not protect people adequately. Safety must be our top priority but without unnecessarily punishing responsible dog owners or harming dogs that are not necessarily a risk. I do not believe that this important balance is being struck.
Since the Dangerous Dogs Act came into force, more people have been killed by dog attacks and more people are being admitted to hospital due to dog bites. At the same time, too many harmless dogs are being destroyed simply because they are a banned breed regardless of their temperament.
We must be more pragmatic when it comes to banning certain dogs based on their breed. All dogs can bite or be dangerous in the wrong hands and action to tackle dog bites and canine aggression must focus on the deed, not the breed.
In 2018, the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee carried out an inquiry into BSL. The Committee called for a full-scale review of current dog control legislation and policy to ensure the public is properly protected and animal welfare concerns addressed. It said changing the law on BSL is desirable, achievable, and would better protect the public.
I believe we must follow science and evidence. I would like the Government commit to a review of BSL and the Dangerous Dogs Act as soon as possible, and to engage with local authorities, police and experts from other countries to develop a deeper understanding of different and successful approaches for the UK.
BSL does not stop dog bites, is bad for animal welfare and, because they cannot be rehomed in a controlled environment, thousands of dogs are being euthanised. We need a more holistic approach to dog control that focuses on prevention through education, responsible ownership and early intervention.
The UK Government has commissioned research by Middlesex University into current dog control measures which will be published this year, which it says will provide the basis to consider further reform. However, it has said it remains concerned that lifting the restrictions could lead to more tragedy.
The Government must commit to an evidence based review of BSL and the Dangerous Dogs Act as soon as possible and I’ll be raising this in Parliament