Government fall short of what's required to curb the massive rise in dog bites

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Government Miss Chance to Make Dangerous Dogs Act Work.

From the 20th August 2012, anyone found to be in charge of a dog that is dangerously out of control , whether it bites or not, could face up to 18 months in jail. Anyone found with one of the four banned breed could face up to six months in jail. The current banned breeds are shown below:

The America Pit Bull Terrier
the Japanese Tosa,
the Dogo Argentino,
the Fila Brasileiro

It is my belief that the Government have pussyfooted around once again with a bill that is classed as one of the worst pieces of legislation on the statute books. Instead of totally overhauling the original and badly flawed Act, all they have done is added and fiddled with this bill. They have never got to grips with the real problem of how we can legislate against this serious social problem.

The Act was originally brought in because of the negative press reports outlining dog attacks on young children and adults in the early 1990s. It was a knee jerk reaction by the then conservative government. They rushed through laws without a careful and workable framework of legislation.

Unfortunately it was, and still is a very badly worded and difficult ACT to work with, the legal framework surrounding this act, is so bad, that it is almost beggars belief.

The original act in 1991 called for every banned breed in the UK to be automatically euihanised. Fortunately the Act was amended in 1997, to allow the banned breeds to be assessed by a qualified behaviourist, not just to confirm they were a banned breed, but also to test for temperament, and behaviour. This allowed the experts to assess if they were a danger to the general public.

Fear Aggressive ShepherdWhat that changed was dogs that would normally be euthanised, could be spared, if the report stated they were not a danger.

I am one of these expert witnesses, and assess both banned breeds and dogs that have been accused of being dangerously out of control in a public place.

I do not work for the Police, I work for the solicitors who represent their clients and ultimately their dogs. I follow the law to the letter; to do anything else would be both illegal and dangerous;

Having said that, it does not mean that I believe the law to be fair and just. I do not believe in BSL, Breed Specific Legislation. I believe it smacks of eugenics. The Nazis in the Second World War practiced eugenics on races of people they believed inferior.

We know that was evil and wrong. Therefore why are using the same model to demonise certain breeds of dogs? To believe that is correct, you must also believe only nature (genetics) decides the outcome of a dogs actions and behaviour.

What happened to the known affects of nurture (socialisation)? Those in favour of BSL are saying that it has no impact. If that is the case then Psychology and socialisation is meaningless!

Dogs can be snatched and put into secure kennels, just because of what it looks like and not what it acts like. See my article on The Staffordshire Bull Terrier   

In that article I go into depth regarding  the problems of BSL. I also argue that the Staffie is blamed and demonised for just about every reported attack. I totally believe the poor Staffie is often unjustly maligned. Most problems where Staffies are blamed are caused by Staffie crosses.

So why am I against the updates to the Dangerous Dogs Act?  Very simply it does not target the people that are effectively creating weapons, by breeding then training and stimulating so called trophy dogs to attack people and other dogs.

Thugs, drug dealers and criminals have these dogs as weapons of fear, which are used to threaten and frighten. I believe the minimum sentence should be 5 years, meted out to the crooks and bully boys that use these dogs to intimidate and injure.

These dogs can be extremely dangerous in the wrong hands and with the wrong stimulation. In other situations and with the right training and socialisation that can be brillant and well v

I also believe the Government was totally wrong in not bringing in legislation for a dog that is dangerously out of control in a private place. Remember the five policeman that were attacked in March 2012 by what I can only describe as a canicidal maniac? It caused life changing injuries to three of those officers. 

What about the 2 year old boy Keiron Guess. Brutally savaged in a next door neighbours garden, by what was described in many press and television reports as a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. In my opinion it was  an American Pit Bull cross. See picture below

Once again the Staffie gets the blame. See the pictures of Shovell Kings dogs. Shovi to his friends, was not prosecuted for the savage attack on Keiron, because the dogs were on private property when the attack took place.

One of these dogs called Ratty attacked poor Keiron GuessDid this thug show any remorse? He posted on his Facebook page that he could not give a toss that a two year old child had had part of his ear and nose bitten off, and will be mentally as well as physically scarred for life.

Neither King nor anyone else, will face criminal charges because the attack, because the law as it stands does not protest victims like little Keiron.

The owner of these dogs Shovi was 15 years old. The Animal Welfare Act states no one under the age of 16 can own a dog. So why were the dogs not taken away and King prosecuted? I can make a few educated guesses

Six children have lost their lives by dog attacks in homes or in private property since 2007.

So despite the pledges from the government, that it would bring in laws to cover dog attacks on private land, that part of the Act was nowhere to be seen.  What happened to the promise that dog on dog attacks would also be made illegal.

Once again nothing. Despite the numerous horrendous attacks on innocent and well behaved dogs including assistance dogs for the blind.

Just imagine the fear and frustration if you were blind, you can hear your beloved companion screaming in fear and pain as it is attacked, but you cannot do anything about it. Then tell me these idiots should not get jail and the severest penalties. Including a ban for life from owning any pets.

I believe they also should bring in laws to stop puppy farms and back street breeders that are filling our streets with dogs that are poorly bred, poorly socialised and from dogs that already have behavioural and mental problems.

All dogs should be micro chipped within sixteen weeks of birth. Especially with small dogs it would be too painful to do it before, as the needle is very large.

On that Chip should be the breeders fulls details and breeding information. Any dog not micro chipped then the owner should be charged with an offence.

If the breeders of overly aggressive dogs are found regularly breeding dogs used as weapons or dangerously out of control, they should be held partly responsible, for the level of socialisation that puppy must get before the owner buys it.

Controls through the import of dogs through places like Ireland where dogs are brought and sold as pedigrees with false papers from places all over Europe. It could be a recipe for disaster if rabies breaks out because these dogs have been vaccinated to you or not at all with the rabies vaccines.

A few statistics from an excellent article in the Telegraph

  • Nearly three in four dog attacks occur on private property, which is not covered by the  the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act
  • The Number of dog bite victims soars as gangs train animals to fight The number of dog bite victims admitted to hospital has risen by almost a third in four years, NHS figures show.
  • Children under the age of 10 are more likely than any other age group to suffer severe injuries after being attacked and require plastic surgery.
    It is thought the rise in status dogs trained for fighting by teenage gangs may be to blame.
  • There were almost 6,450 hospital admissions for dog bites and attacks in the year to April 2012, up from 4,611 four years earlier.
  • Around one in six hospital admissions following an attack by a dog involved a child under 10. They were most likely to suffer serious facial injuries requiring plastic surgery, the data shows.
  • But the figures, released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), may represent just the tip of the iceberg as only the most serious injuries are included that required the patient to a hospital bed requiring treatment, and possibly surgery.
  • The victims are often members of the family that owns the dog.

“You do see people doing inadvisable things such as leaving a very dangerous dog in the same room as a baby when they go off to make a cup of coffee
“Often the dogs see a child as a threat, it wants to get rid of the baby.

“The really terrible injuries that you get from dogs such bull terriers are still pretty rare, most of those are when the dog gets hold of an area of the body, usually an arm but it can be the face if it is close, and biting.

“The really bad wounds that you occasionally see are caused by the dog being very aggressive and shaking and biting again.”

But Mr Milner, of the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, said the scale of the rise could be explained partly by more aggressive treatments for dog bites.

The Government needs to wake up and see when and where the real carnage happens. It is not just on the streets.

Stan Rawlinson
August 2012

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