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The Dog Control and Welfare Bill 2010-2011

Sue GilmoreThis Bill, introduced to Parliament on 27th July 2010 under the “Ten Minute Rule” is a Private Member’s Bill sponsored by Andrew Rosindell. Introduced to “repeal the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991; to require the introduction of compulsory microchipping of dogs; to make provision relating to the welfare of dogs and public safety around dogs; and for connected purposes”.

The Second Reading of this Bill is expected to be on 20th January 2012, in the House of Commons. In the meantime, the Report stage of the Bill is scheduled for 10th June 2011 in the House of Lords.

Several amendments have been made, notably in the detail of who is considered a person responsible for a dog; what is considered an offence, for example, encouraging a dog to be aggressive or to intimidate people or other protected animals. So-called attack dogs would be considered out with the law. The mantra of “deed not breed” would seem to have been heard, inasmuch that specific breeds have not been mentioned within the Bill.

There are provisions, however, to allow dogs to be used for protection within the law, for example, a constable or a person in the service of the Crown. Dogs being used in recognized dog trials, or those used by a person licensed under the terms of the Private Security Industry Act 2001, are among a list of persons considered to be “responsible”. This would seem to have addressed the fears of dog trainers and owners who take part in sport and training of pet dogs, for example, Schutzhund and dog trials.

The subject of Dog Control Notices has been referred to several Government Departments, notably the Department for Communities and Local Government to determine who is considered an “Authorised Officer” able to serve a written notice or a person deemed capable of controlling the dog in question. At present this seems to rest with the “appropriate national authority”; a “local authority” or a “police officer skilled in the control of dogs…”

The focus of the Bill is towards the responsibility of the owner for the welfare of the dog and provision is made to allow appeals procedures in the event of a dog control order being served and failure to comply with it. Whereas previously it may have been the dog paying the ultimate price for its actions, the owner would be held responsible, be prosecuted accordingly and due consideration given to the circumstances as to whether the dog should be spared or destroyed.

I feel that the amendments are generally a step forward to a fairer and more considered reaction to dogs and their behaviour, with the onus being squarely placed on owners to be responsible for their dogs and to their dogs within England and Wales.

The above is a brief synopsis of the amendments proposed to the Dog Control and Welfare Bill 2010-11; the personal opinions expressed are those of Sue Gilmore, Political Adviser to the Pet Education Training and Behaviour Council (PETbc). 13th May 2011

Sue Gilmore Dog Control Bill