Yesterday, 7 December, the London Assembly passed a motion calling for the Mayor to write to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to ask for a formal review of the Dangerous Dog Act (DDA). The motion received cross-party political support.
“The Assembly believes the Act – which uses Breed Specific Legislation to prohibit certain types of dog – has not reduced dog bite incidents and fails to protect dog welfare,” a statement reads.
Conservative Steve O’Connell AM, who proposed the motion, said, “This is about recognising the current policies designed to protect people from dangerous dogs are not fit for purpose, as well as improving animal welfare standards. It’s important that, if the current system is not working, we look at other ways of handling what is a growing problem.
“The consequences for victims of a dog attack can be devastating and I hope the relevant authorities take note of our motion.”
The motion was seconded by Leonie Cooper AM, Labour, who pointed out that the ineffectiveness of the Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is “abundantly clear”.
“We need stronger, more extensive legislation to reduce the number of dog attacks and bring irresponsible owners to justice,” she said. “Government must work not only with the police and councils, but organisations such as Battersea Dogs & Cats Home too, to consider the best way to protect people from dangerous dogs and safeguard animal welfare. It’s reassuring to see we have cross party consensus over what is a really important issue.”
All animal welfare organisations in the UK have long campaigned to end BSL, which was introduced over 25 years ago and has since failed to precent dog attacks, only causing heartache to thousands of families whose dogs were killed for no other reason but their looks.
Battersea Dogs and Cats Home recently released a report detailing all the reasons why this legislation can be considered a failed experiment. Last summer Battersea staff had to put to sleep Francis (pictured left), as he was found to be a Pit Bull type. Despite the fact he would have made a great family pet, according to the behaviourists who met him, his looks condemned him and the staff had to go through the heart-breaking task of destroying him. He was not the first, nor the last.
The RSPCA is also campaigning to end BSL, and started a petition asking for the law to be reviewed.
The motion reads, “The Assembly notes that other authorities have started to review and overturn BSL such as the Netherlands, Italy, and Lower Saxony, Germany and have identified other ways of reducing dog bite incidents.
“The Assembly calls on the Mayor to write to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs asking for a formal review of the legislation as proposed by the RSPCA and for London bodies such as the Metropolitan Police, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, the stray dog services of the London Boroughs and relevant non-governmental organisations to be part of this review.”