The Welsh Government has shelved its draft bill on dog control, instead opting to work towards a joint legislative approach with Defra.

The Welsh Government has shelved its draft bill on dog control, instead opting to work towards a joint legislative approach with Defra.

The move, which sees Wales dropping plans for Dog Control Notices (DCNs), has disappointed the British Veterinary Association (BVA), while a former president of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) has spoken out in favour of a joined-up approach between Wales and England.
Welsh officials launched a Draft Control of Dogs (Wales) Bill and Wales has shelved its draft dog control billaccompanying stakeholder consultation in November 2012.

However, it was announced yesterday (May 2, 2013) that the draft bill was being suspended so Wales could work on a joint approach between the devolutions, taking into account the Home Office’s anti-social behaviour work and Defra’s position, which is supportive of amending the Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) to cover private property and other animals, but not DCNs.  

Alun Davies, Wales’ minister for natural resources and food, said: “It has become clear that there may be value in a joint collaborative approach.

“I will continue discussions with the UK Government with a view to considering whether early UK Parliamentary legislation would be the best vehicle to take forward our proposals in a coherent way.”

However, he added: “I retain the option of introducing a Welsh bill if we are unable to reach agreement on these UK legislative options.”

When the Welsh Government announced its draft bill in 2012, the BVA praised the regime as “taking a lead on canine issues by seeking a more preventive approach to dog control”, but the association was quick to voice concerns on the new England/Wales approach.

BSAVA past-president Mike Jessop is in favour of joined-up legislation BVA president Peter Jones said: “We fear that the move to align the Welsh Government legislation with English legislation may be less effective in controlling irresponsible dog ownership. Anti-social behaviour legislation tends to be reactive rather than preventive.

“We hope that the Welsh Government can find a way to maintain a greater degree of prevention that doesn’t appear to be present in the Westminster proposals.”

BSAVA past-president Mike Jessop admitted he was frustrated to see the Welsh plans stalling, however, he praised officials for pushing for a uniform approach to dog control across England and Wales.

He said: “It is sensible that the Welsh Government has looked at plans and thought there might have been a better way, even at the eleventh hour. To bring in piecemeal regulation would have made the situation even worse.”

Asked about the Welsh Government dropping plans for DCNs, he added: “Dog Control Notices are a nice idea but officials have always been nervous about how they’re going to work in practice and who is going to enforce them. With the recessional drive and reduction in local authority facilities becoming increasingly more likely, the job of policing these orders would fall on groups that are not particularly well funded to do it – in that sense they are never going to work.”

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