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Govt: Dangerous dog plans give police more power

The Home Office has defended its plans to put dog measures in anti-social behaviour legislation rather than a dedicated Bill.

The draft Anti Social Behaviour Bill is about giving victims, who often feel powerless, a voice.

We want to ensure the police, councils and housing providers have more effective powers to deal with anti-social behaviour.

That is why we are slashing the existing plethora of tools and powers from 19 to six.

The new streamlined powers will be faster, more flexible and crucially will allow professionals to stop ASB and seek to change behaviour.

– Home Office spokeswoman

Charities warn Home Office over dangerous dog plans

The six leading vets and animal charities have written to Home Office Minister Jeremy Browne to say they were "very concerned" at the proposed replacement of Dog Control Orders with less specific anti-social behaviour measures.

Allowing untrained council workers or police community support officers to issue orders "could lead to compromises in animal welfare or even make dog behaviour worse due to lack of understanding in these areas", it added.

[It could also] lull communities into a false sense of security around dogs and not actually address the real problem - irresponsible owners.

This could lead to greater division within communities and potentially marginalise all dog owners - even those trying to be responsible.

We cannot see how the new measures will provide for effective early intervention and prevention.

– Letter from animal charities to Home Office

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Charities criticise government's dangerous dogs plans

A pitbull seized in 2009 as part of operation Navara, which targeted dangerous dogs. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Charities have spoken out against the government’s proposed new dangerous dog measures – planned in the aftermath of the death of 14-year-old Jade Anderson – warning that they could "cause more problems than they solve".

The six leading vets and animal charities said they were "extremely concerned" that the Home Office planned to put dog measures in anti-social behaviour legislation rather than a dedicated Bill.

MPs in the environment, food and rural affairs committee last month said the government had "comprehensively failed" to tackle irresponsible dog ownership.

Compulsory microchipping 'a giant leap' for dogs

The introduction of compulsory microchipping is a giant leap for dogs and their owners and is something that vets have long campaigned for. Microchipping is a safe and effective way to link dogs to their owners and is an essential part of responsible ownership.

Microchipping is a small cost in terms of dog ownership with veterinary practices offering microchipping for around £15-£20 or for free as part of a practice promotion.

Dogs Trust and other rehoming charities are also offering free microchipping at their centres and through local authorities.

– Peter Jones, British Veterinary Association

Your views on compulsory microchipping of dogs

You've been telling us what you think about the compulsory microchipping of dogs in England on our Facebook page.

Michelle Garner It's a good idea, but we all know that the "good" owners have this done anyway, and the "bad" owners still won't bother so can only think if this becomes legislation how on earth is it going to be policed?

Nicky Nobbs Can't see any reason not to have your dog chipped! It's cheap enough and if anyone says they can't afford it then they can't afford to have a dog.

Charlotte Fernandes Yes they should! Too many dogs end up abandoned in rescue centres, so chipping them will call into question the owners who abandon them.

New laws 'will make a difference' to dangerous dogs

Clarissa Baldwin from the Dogs Trust spoke to ITV Daybreak about new Government measures to tackle irresponsible dog ownership.

She said the proposals will make a huge difference, especially with regard to dangerous dogs, putting a greater sense of responsibility on dog owners.

Under the plans, the introduction of compulsory microchipping for all dogs in England will be introduced along with extending the Dangerous Dogs act to private property.

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What is microchipping?

  • Introduced in 1989, the microchip is a small electronic device, implanted between the shoulder blades of the dog.
  • The Microchipping costs around £20-£30.
  • Once a microchip is scanned, the local authority or welfare organisation contacts a national database to locate the owners
  • According to the Dogs Trust survey, microchipping accounts for more than 30 per cent of reunions between pet and owner.
  • More than four million dogs and cats in the UK have been fitted, with up to 8000 new registrations every week

Five thousand postal workers attacked by dogs each year

The Dangerous Dogs Act was introduced in August 1991, covering all dogs, of any breed, type and cross.

Currently the law does not apply to private property, where the dog has a right to be, for example, the dogs own home.

Under the new measures to be set out today, this will change, according to the Communication Workers Union:

  • Five thousand postal workers and around 400 telecom engineers are attacked by dogs each year
  • Seventy per cent of dog attacks on postal workers occur on private property, in gardens, drives, paths and private roads, where the law currently does not apply
  • Gas, water and electricity workers, district nurses, home helps, health visitors, care workers and even meals on wheels volunteers are all left unprotected by the law

New regulations to control dangerous dogs

The Government is today announcing new measures to tackle irresponsible dog ownership, including new regulations requiring all dogs to be microchipped in England by 2016.

The law will be extended to cover private property, to protect workers, such as postmen, who have to go onto private property from attacks by dangerous dogs.

Police dog handlers removing a pitbull during a raid Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The introduction of compulsory microchipping for all dogs in England, aims to help owners reunite with lost or stolen pets, relieving the burden placed on local authorities and animal charities by stray dogs.

According to the Dogs Trust, "microchipping is the most effective and secure way to permanently identify a pet."

CWU: 'England needs new dog laws'

Sir Gordon's recommendations take on board our own long-standing campaign objectives of securing new UK-wide laws which apply on private property, moving away from breed-specific legislation, introducing microchipping and getting serious when it comes to prosecution and punishment.

England will soon be the only part of the UK without updated dogs laws as Scotland and Northern Ireland have already introduced new improved legislation and Wales is legislating in the current session.

– CWU general secretary Billy Hayes
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