Call for repeal of 'ineffective' breed specific legislation

Relaxed Pitbull

Vets and animal welfare groups are calling for an end to the ban on certain breeds of dog.

Battersea, Blue Cross, Dogs Trust, the Kennel Club, the RSPCA, Scottish SPCA and the British Veterinary Association (BVA) say that breed specific legislation (BSL) “sentences dogs to death” simply because they look a certain way.

The Dangerous Dogs Act was introduced in 1991 after a number of serious dog attacks in the UK. The organisations say that while there are parts of the Act that, importantly, protect the public from dogs who are dangerously out of control, they want to see urgent change to one part of the law which labels certain types of dogs as dangerous purely based on their looks.

Happy pitbull

If a dog is suspected of being a Pitbull terrier, Japanese tosa, Fila Brasiliero or Dogo Argentino they are assessed by a police dog legislation officer against a list of breed standards. If they are identified as being of a prohibited type, their owner must apply to have them exempted through the courts and, if approved, must adhere to a strict set of rules such as always keeping them on lead and muzzled when in public.

These dogs cannot be re-homed by rescue centres and their ownership cannot easily be transferred to someone else should an owner be unable to care for them.

Although BSL was introduced in a bid to crack down on dog attacks, NHS data shows that the number of hospital admissions due to dog-related injuries has actually increased. In the past 10 years alone, the number of admissions rose by 30% from 6,640 to 8,655 (2011-12 to 2021-22).

“There’s no robust scientific evidence to suggest that these types of dogs are more dangerous, more likely to use aggression or have a unique bite style that could cause more serious harm, than any other type of dog,” said RSPCA campaign manager Shelley Phillips.

“We need to move away from outdated, ineffective legislation that sentences dogs to death because they happen to look a certain way, and we need to focus on helping dog owners be responsible, providing support to dogs who have shown early signs of behavioural difficulties, and educating the public on how to safely interact with dogs.”

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