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Dogs: Animal Welfare

Volume 498: debated on Monday 26 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent trends he has identified in the prevalence of dog fighting in the UK; and what steps his Department is taking to encourage police forces to allocate adequate resources towards reducing the incidence of dog fighting. (294918)

I have been asked to reply.

Our regular meetings with the RSPCA include reviewing dog fighting issues, which has long been an illegal activity. It is premature to speculate on the basis of the available evidence whether there have been any significant trends in the prevalence of dog fighting.

However, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 updated and strengthened the law on animal fighting. The Act created separate offences for animal fighting and significantly increased the maximum financial penalties available to the courts for such offences. Anyone found guilty of an offence related to animal fighting is liable to a maximum fine of £20,000 (previously £5,000), or six months' imprisonment, or both.

We have also recently published new guidance for the police on the enforcement of dangerous dogs law as well as provided the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) with £20,000 to assist in the training of police officers in the use of dangerous dogs law. The guidance and training includes the identification of illegal pit bull type dogs that are commonly used in dog fighting.

The Home Office are legislating (in the Policing and Crime Bill) to create a new power to prevent gang-related violence. This will enable police or local authorities to ask the courts to prohibit gang members from doing a number of things, including being in charge of an animal in a public place.