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Tougher Legislation on Dangerous Dogs

Volume 567: debated on Tuesday 10 September 2013

The Petition of residents of Bolton West,

Declares that seven children and two adults have been killed by dogs since 2006, and that 6,000 admissions to hospital are caused by dog attacks each year leaving many victims scarred for life; notes that the introduction of Dog Control Notices is supported by many organisations including the Kennel Club, the Dogs Trust, RSPCA, Royal College of Nursing, British Veterinary Association and the Communication Workers Union; and believes that the Government’s current proposals on dangerous dogs do not go far enough.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to amend the law to cover attacks on people and animals on both private and public property, to enforce Dog Control Orders, to introduce Dog Control Notices giving the authorities the power to intervene, to introduce the compulsory micro-chipping of all dogs and to promote responsible dog ownership, including training owners and dogs.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Julie Hilling, Official Report, 16 July 2013; Vol. 566, c. 1063.]

[P001200]

Petitions in the same terms were presented by the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East (Paul Goggins) [P001201]; the hon. Member for Bolton South East (Yasmin Qureshi) [P001202]; the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Luciana Berger) [P001203]; the hon. Member for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green) [P001204]; the hon. Member for Washington and Sunderland West (Mrs Hodgson) [P001205]; the hon. Member for Scunthorpe (Nic Dakin) [P001206]; the hon. Member for Lewisham East (Heidi Alexander) [P001207]; and the hon. Member for Blackpool South (Mr Marsden) [P001208].

Observations from the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

The Government thank the petitioners for raising this important issue in the House of Commons. The Government are committed to encouraging more responsible dog ownership and agree that dog attacks causing death or injury are unacceptable and must be tackled. For this reason, the Government announced a package of measures on 6 February 2013 to encourage more responsible dog ownership.

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill 2013, currently in the House of Commons, extends the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 so that the offence of having a dog dangerously out of control applies regardless of whether it occurs on public or private property. This will provide the police and the Crown Prosecution Service with an appropriate legal base for taking forward prosecutions as necessary. The Bill also creates an explicit offence where a dog is dangerously out of control in relation to an assistance dog such as a guide dog. The Government look forward to the successful progression of this Bill to the House of Lords before it receives Royal Assent.

The same Bill will also provide practitioners with faster and more flexible powers that allow them to tackle all types of anti-social behaviour within communities. For example, the Community Protection Notice is an early intervention power that will allow officers to address irresponsible dog ownership in any form. Notices served could require an individual to remedy their behaviour by attending a dog behaviour or training class for example. The adaptability of these powers removes the need for numerous stand-alone notices for each separate form of anti-social behaviour and also allows officers to develop innovative local solutions that address the cause as well as the effect of the behaviour.

In addition, the Government are drafting regulations so that microchipping for all dogs will be compulsory from April 2016. This welfare measure will allow for quicker reunification of lost pets with their owners and significantly reduce the time stray dogs spend in kennels, which is distressing for both dogs and owners.

Further work on the education of owners and to tackle the advertising of pets online is also underway. The Government are grateful to all petitioners for upholding the traditions of excellent animal welfare in this country.