A Commons committee has said the Government has failed to respond adequately to public concern over dog attacks and poor dog welfare.
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has made a series of recommendations in their new report, including consolidation of legislation relating to dangerous dogs and microchipping of all dogs.
They have also called for adequate resourcing for dog warden services, the introduction of Dog Control Notices as a preventive approach and tougher controls on puppy breeders.
Vets have welcomed the report, but warned that the committee’s call for more types and breeds of dogs to be banned will do nothing to solve the problem of dangerous dogs.
British Veterinary Association President Peter Jones said:
“There has long been agreement amongst those working with dogs that a radical overhaul of the failed Dangerous Dogs Act is needed, and so we welcome this cross-party call for an urgent consolidation of dangerous dogs legislation and a move towards a more preventive approach.
“Whilst the Committee’s report champions the principle of deed not breed we are concerned by the suggestion that the Secretary of State should be able to ban more breeds of types of dog. Breed specific legislation has failed in the UK. Adding more breeds will only criminalise more innocent dogs without educating the public about responsible ownership."
Mr Jones said he was pleased the MPs issued a strong call for a tightening up of breeding legislation and reducing the threshold for licensing to two litters per year.
"We hope Defra takes action on this recommendation soon," he said.
Rachel Cunningham, Public Affairs Manager at animal charity Blue Cross, said: “While we agree with proposals for a more flexible approach to anti-social behaviour issues, we hope that dog specific measures will be included in any new legislation.
"Authorities need tools to enable them to step in and prevent anti-social or potentially dangerous behaviour with dogs and any new measures must be properly enforced and resourced to safeguard the public and the nation’s pets.
“While we agree with proposals for a more flexible approach to anti-social behaviour issues, we hope that dog specific measures will be included in any new legislation. Authorities need tools to enable them to step in and prevent anti-social or potentially dangerous behaviour with dogs and any new measures must be properly enforced and resourced to safeguard the public and the nation’s pets.”
Launching the report of an inquiry into Dog Control and Welfare today, EFRA Committee Chair Anne McIntosh said:
“Current laws have comprehensively failed to tackle irresponsible dog ownership. Defra’s belated proposals published last week are too limited.
"Since 2007 dogs have killed seven people, including five children, in private homes. The NHS also spends over £3 million annually treating dog attack injuries. Some eight assistance dogs a month, and thousands of livestock annually, are attacked by dogs.
"More than 100,000 strays are found each year; incidences of cruelty and neglect are rising and many dogs are out of control due to the irresponsible or deliberate actions of a minority of owners.
"The evidence we received from DEFRA and the Home Office did little to reassure us that either Department is giving sufficient priority to dog control and welfare issues.
"The Home Office approach to tackling antisocial behaviour is too simplistic; and fails to reflect the impact that poor breeding and training by irresponsible owners can have on a dog’s behaviour.
"Defra should introduce comprehensive legislation to consolidate the fragmented rules relating to dog control and welfare.
"New rules should give enforcement officers more effective powers, including Dog Control Notices, to prevent dog-related antisocial behaviour. Local authorities need to devote more resources to the effective management of stray dogs.”