By Hamish Lazari
The recent spate of dog attacks in the United Kingdom has reignited the debate about adding additional breeds to the Dangerous Dogs Act. The Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman, Chris Huhne is quoted as saying that ‘a review should look at the breed to be banned.’
What Mr Huhne like a lot of other people fails to appreciate is that adding more breeds of dog to be outlawed under the DDA will do nothing to prevent dog attacks occurring in the future.
What breeds would any review panel consider to be eligible for banning, what breed of dog living in the UK has never ever had one of its own kind bite a person either accidentally or purposely?
Would the panel see size as an issue and only consider large dogs, what about small dogs, the ‘nippers’ and ankle biters that more than contribute to the total number of dog bites per annun in the UK.
The most popular and likely candidates may well be breeds that are associated with certain sections of society. Is it the fault of a specific dog if it is bought by an irresponsible person who merely wants the dog for ‘street cred.’
Surely the best way to protect public safety and to be rid of unfair breed specific legislation is to look at compulsory training and insurance as a way of protecting public safety.
The National Dog Warden Association at its recent annual seminar in Birmingham presented a number of ‘thoughts’ on the use of owner training and some form of compulsory insurance, where you cannot have one without the other.
If a dog owner was required to have some knowledge of dog behaviour, correct handling and basic training which had to be certified before one could own a dog, this may make people think about the requirements and responsibilities of owning a dog?
Responsible dog ownership could include a person looking at what it takes to achieve certification and deciding it is not for them. Differing levels of ownership could be created up to a level for those breeds that may require specialist handling and care.
The answer to dog attacks is not outlawing more breeds but promoting responsible dog ownership for both dog owners be it through training and promoting safety around dogs to the public at large.
The government needs to act decisively and indeed review the Dangerous Dogs Act but only to get rid of it and to look at some kind of national training scheme for dog ownership to benefit public safety.
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