The Kennel Club (KC) has warned a bill proposing to make the annual registration of all dogs a legal requirement will not work.

The Kennel Club says it would rather see efforts go into preventative measures.

The Dogs (Registration) Bill – to receive its second reading in Parliament today (January 9) – has been put forward by MP for Bolton West Julie Hilling, and claims the income raised from registration would fund both enforcement of conditions and penalties imposed on those who fail to control their dogs.

However, the KC says it believes preventive measures based on responsible dog ownership would be a better way to tackle the issue of dog control, and while it does support the principle of a funding stream for enforcement, it “does not support annual registration as a means of achieving this”, citing “low compliance” of dog licensing elsewhere in the UK, such as in Northern Ireland, and the “huge costs” associated with administering such a scheme.

The KC secretary Caroline Kisko said Ms Hilling’s bill “appears to be a reaction” to a fatal dog attack in her constituency.

“While dog attacks that cause fatalities are a tragedy, they are also very rare and we don’t believe knee-jerk legislation should be the response – it was this approach that led to the highly flawed and much-criticised Dangerous Dogs Act (1991) in the first place,” she said.

“In the vast majority of fatal dog attacks – which in themselves are extremely rare – the dog’s owner is known to the victim, meaning registration details would not be required to identify the owner anyway, so we do not believe incidents of this type would be prevented in future this way.”

Another reason cited for the introduction of the bill, she said, is that dog registration is used in other European countries to reduce the number of stray dogs.

“[This] is why the KC has fully supported the introduction of compulsory microchipping, which – if enforced properly – will mean all dogs will be able to be traced back to their current owner,” she said.

“A far more effective method of dealing with dog control issues would be to focus on preventive measures, which would tackle the situations that create dangerous dogs in the first place. This would rightly place focus on the owner, and on the need to properly train and socialise dogs from the very start of their lives.”

For more information on the KC’s political work, visit its website.

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