Overhaul of failed dog legislation should go further, says BVA

13 May 2014

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) today welcomed new dog control laws but warned that more work is needed to make the failed legislation effective.

Changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act (1991) which come into force today as part of the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 extend the law to cover incidents on private property, increase maximum sentences for those convicted of dog control offences and offer legal protection to assistance dogs.

BVA has long campaigned for a total overhaul of the Dangerous Dogs Act (1991) on the grounds that it fails to protect the public and their pets from attacks and targets breeds rather than behaviour.

BVA President Robin Hargreaves said:

“We welcome these amendments as we have long argued that the Dangerous Dogs Act fails in its aim to protect the public and their pets.

“We are pleased to see the inclusion of preventive measures in the form of antisocial behaviour tools. These are not the Dog Control Notices we had campaigned for but we hope they will allow the police and other enforcement agencies to act before attacks take place.

“We welcome the new protection afforded to guide dogs but are disappointed that the opportunity was missed to extend this protection to other animals. Dog attacks on innocent pets have distressing consequences for animals, owners and vets, and can be a precursor to attacks on people.

“We are particularly disappointed that the ineffective breed-specific elements of the legislation remain in place, despite evidence that they fail to protect the public while stigmatising certain breeds. This was a missed opportunity and we will continue to campaign for further overhaul of the legislation.

“Our members also believe that more needs to be done on educating the public if we are to see a reduction in the terrible incidents like those we’ve seen in the headlines in recent years.”

BVA Media Office