BVA supports MPs’ call for overhaul of ineffective dangerous dogs law

17 October 2018

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed the recommendations put forward by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) committee on breed-specific legislation (BSL) today (Wednesday), which calls on the government to conduct a full-scale review of current dog control legislation and policy to better protect the public.

The report, ‘Controlling dangerous dogs’, recommends an alternative dog control model that focuses on prevention though education, early intervention, and consistently robust sanctions for offenders. In the absence of sufficient evidence to back BSL, the report also calls on the government to conduct a comprehensive independent evidence review into the factors behind canine aggression and to introduce a centralised database to record information on dog bites.

BVA has campaigned for many years for consolidated, effective and evidence-based dog control legislation that recognises the principle of ‘deed not breed’. BVA and the British Small Animal Veterinary Association submitted a joint written response to the inquiry and veterinary surgeon Robin Hargreaves gave oral evidence to the committee on behalf of BVA in June.

In both our oral and written evidence to the committee, BVA emphasised that a dog’s behaviour, including how and when it displays aggression, is largely dependent on its socialisation, rearing, training and environmental circumstances, and called for the government to take a more holistic approach to minimising the occurrence of dog bites, moving towards legislation based on the ‘deed not breed’ principle.

Commenting on the report, British Veterinary Association President Simon Doherty said:

“This is a strong endorsement of BVA’s position on dangerous dogs. We are very pleased to see that the report recommends a full-scale review of current dog control legislation and policy to better protect both public safety and animal welfare.

“BVA has long campaigned for a total overhaul of the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act because it targets specific breeds rather than deeds and gives a false impression that dogs not on the banned list are ‘safe’, thereby failing to properly protect the public and their pets from attacks.

“Any dog of any size has the capacity to be aggressive and dangerous, particularly when it is not properly trained or socialised, so education about responsible dog ownership is key to reducing these terrible cases of dog attacks we see in the headlines.

“We hope that the report will lead to robust, fit-for-purpose legislation that effectively tackles individual acts of aggression rather than banning entire breeds.”

BVA’s position statement on dangerous dogs can be viewed here.