People could be better protected from dangerous dogs and tougher actiontaken against irresponsible dog owners under a new bill beingdiscussed in the House of Lords today.

The Kennel Club has broadly welcomed the second reading of the Private “Dog Control Bill” tabled in the House of Lords by Liberal Democrat Peer, Lord Redesdale, which could repeal the widelycriticised Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

If passed, the Bill will introduce major changes to current dangerous dogs legislation which is considered to be one of the worst pieces of government legislation ever brought into force. These changes include:

  • Lord Redesdale Legislation will no longer be breed specific – it is generally accepted that genetics (breed) plays only a part in the temperament of an individual dog and scientific studies from around the world show that environment and training have a far greater effect.
  • More emphasis on the owner, so that instead of banning specific breeds of dog, the dog’s behaviour – as well as its treatment by its owner – would be used to determine if it is a risk to public safety under the Dog Control Bill.
  • Attacks on private property would also become a criminal offence.

The Kennel Club, which runs the secretariat for the Dangerous Dogs Act Study Group, has long been calling on the government to repeal the current legislation and believes that it is the breed specific nature of current legislation that has caused it to fail, as focusing on individual breeds has not prevented a large number of dog attacks.

Dangerous dog attack Kennel Club communications director Caroline Kisko said: “The Kennel Club very much welcomes the debate on this issue which will take place in the House of Lords. The current legislation is draconian and severely flawed, and does little to protect the public.

“We are particularly pleased that the proposed Bill will place more emphasis on penalising irresponsible dog owners rather than focusing on particular breeds. We have long been saying that any dog can be dangerous in the wrong hands and we hope that this Bill will go some way to combat the growing culture of using dogs as weapons.

“Despite the positive changes that Lord Redesdale’s Bill would make to the current legislation, the Kennel Club believes that there is some room for improvement on the Bill as it currently stands. For example, it would make it an offence to keep a dog that has injured another dog or animal, but this could theoretically lead to the seizure of any dog which attacked a rat or rabbit for example. We will therefore be pushing for the Bill to be amended as it progresses, but we believe that it is a vast improvement on the current legislation.”

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