The Kennel Club, RSPCA, Dogs Trust, and Blue Cross are urging MPs to reject calls from misguided activists that Staffordshire Bull Terriers be added to the list of ‘banned breeds’ under the Dangerous Dogs Act. The leading animal welfare organisations strongly believe that current breed-specific legislation should be repealed and replaced with legislation which targets irresponsible owners and not dogs guilty of nothing other than looking a certain way.
The issue is scheduled to be discussed in Parliament on Monday 16th July, after more than 155,000 people signed a UK Government and Parliament petition in defence of Staffordshire Bull Terriers in the space of just three weeks.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are loving, loyal dogs and make excellent family pets. Last year they were the twelfth most popular breed in the UK based on Kennel Club registration figures. There is no scientific evidence that suggests the breed is any more dangerous than any other type of dog. If the government decided to ban this breed, tens of thousands of innocent dogs would be seized from their loving homes and held in kennels for long periods of time whilst the court system decided what to do with them.
Any breed of dog has the potential to be a danger in the wrong hands and sadly many instances of dog attack-related fatalities have demonstrated this by involving breeds which are not on the banned list. This is proof that breed-specific legislation does not work and why animal welfare organisations are adamant that legislation targeting the owners of dogs would be much more effective.
The Dangerous Dog Act 1991 was introduced to try to reduce the number of dog attacks and bites by banning so called ‘dangerous’ breeds and types. Breed-specific legislation is based on the assumption that the breeds and types of dogs that are banned are more ‘dangerous’ than the many other dog breeds. In the UK, there are currently four prohibited breeds and types of dog: the Pit Bull Terrier type; Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasiliero.
Many countries have chosen to move away from a breed-specific approach to legislation on dangerous dogs. A number of European countries including Italy and the Netherlands have reversed breed-specific laws in recent years and a number of US states are looking to do the same. Italy repealed their breed-specific legislation in 2009 and replaced it with a piece of legislation that focuses on holding individual dog owners responsible for their dog’s behaviour. The UK animal welfare sector would urge our government to consider doing the same.