This year marks 26 years since the Dangerous Dogs Act was introduced, including Section 1 which bans four types of dog in the UK – the Pit Bull Terrier, the Fila Brasiliero, the Dogo Argentino and the Japanese Tosa. Figures show it has not been effective in decreasing the number of attacks in the UK since it came into place.
Since the introduction of the Dangerous Dogs Act in 1991, the average number of deaths due to dog bites in the UK is 2.8 people per year. This is in contrast to the average number of bites for the ten years before the introduction of the Act, which was 1.1 per year – a rise of 155 percent.
Campaigners are calling for reforms to the legislation to tackle irresponsible owners and look at a dog’s behaviour rather than their appearance.
Shaila Bux, Board Member of campaigning organisation Born Innocent said, “Understandably, people are very shocked when they see a news report of a dog attack but we much move away from knee-jerk reactions and look at how the law can punish irresponsible owners and also protect the public from dog attacks. If we go by statistics, then current legislation has failed in every area that it was set out to tackle.
“We are at a crossroads with the Dangerous Dogs Act (in its current format): politicians must be brave enough to admit that the Act has failed and implement laws that will reduce dog bites whilst at the same time, not punish dogs based on how they look. The law should target irresponsible owners and their dog’s behaviour. Plenty of other countries have achieved this, such as Calgary in Canada who saw a whopping 80% reduction in dog bites once they introduced the ‘Calgary Model’ and the UK should be following the same path.”
Deaths by dog bites are still incredibly rare and the chances of one happening are 0.00005%. Data by the Office of National Statistics analysed by Born Innocent revealed you are more likely to die from a bee or wasp sting, or by cows and pigs, than a dog attack.
On the 26th anniversary last Saturday, the RSPCA released a heartwarming video showing of some of the banned types and asks ‘Do these dogs look dangerous to you?’
Last year, the charity launched its #EndBSL campaign calling for the Government to review the legislation and replace it with something that will better protect public safety and improve the welfare for all dogs affected by it.
RSPCA dog welfare expert and lead author of ‘A Dog’s Dinner’ report, Dr Samantha Gaines, said, “Almost 80,000 people have signed our petition and want to see a review of this ineffective and outdated piece of legislation.
“Our campaign has also had support from experts and organisations around the world, showing that this is an issue close to the hearts of many people from many corners of the globe.
“Many believe that, ultimately, the law should be repealed and replaced with something that is fit for purpose – something that better serves to protect the public and which doesn’t punish dogs because of how they look, irrespective of their behaviour or whether they pose any risk to the public.”