Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, has welcomed Ian Lavery MP’s timely debate on responsible dog ownership today (26th February).
February has been an important month for dog welfare issues, with the Government’s announcement on the introduction of compulsory microchipping and the Efra Committee’s publication of their report on dog control and welfare.
Dogs Trust warmly welcomed the introduction of compulsory microchipping, which is a step in the right direction for responsible dog ownership. The charity has long campaigned for its introduction, and has set aside a considerable amount of money to ensure no owners will lack the financial ability to microchip their dog. Owners can get their dog chipped for free by appointment at their nearest Rehoming Centre – an offer which we have been providing for many years – and the charity will also be running special ‘Microchipping Days’ throughout our network of eighteen Centres in March and April 2013, which owners can attend without appointment.
However, despite recent focus on wider dog welfare issues, Dogs Trust still believes that the Government’s approach to tackle dangerous dogs is still lacking, and will continue to campaign for a complete overhaul of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. In addition, the charity has grave concerns that the Efra Committee’s recent recommendation to extend the banned breeds list will only serve to unfairly demonise more breeds of dog, when in reality the problem is at the other end of the lead.
We believe that, in many cases, that ‘dangerous’ dogs is a social issue, rather than exclusively a ‘dog’ problem. New, effective legislation which is properly enforced would be hugely beneficial but, crucially, non legislative interventions are needed to influence irresponsible owners and better educate the public. To that end, Dogs Trust invests £6million a year in outreach work to combat irresponsible dog ownership. We run a successful ‘City Dogs’ Outreach project in London which reaches out to young urban dog owners to help them understand their dogs’ needs and become more responsible owners. Similar schemes are operated in other parts of the UK in the form of ‘Responsible Dog Ownership’ events where local dog owners can avail of free microchipping, free health checks, educational materials, and free neutering vouchers.
Such interventions are invaluable to local communities and dogs alike, but without the backing of effective law, dog control issues will continue to pose major problems in this country. Dogs Trust and other organisations will continue to promote responsible dog ownership, and while debates such as today’s serve to highlight the issue, no real improvements will be seen until the Government ‘takes the lead’ and tackles the problems of dog control head on.