The Kennel Club has commended the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) plans to consult on the introduction of compulsory microchipping which will help to crack down on the owners of dangerous dogs, but has also labelled it a missed opportunity to better protect the public by preventing dog attacks before they occur.
The Kennel Club has long lobbied for the introduction of compulsory microchipping, which brings a raft of benefits including reducing the time taken to reunite dog and owner if a dog is lost or stolen, cost savings to local authorities in the kennelling of strays, and helping to trace rogue breeders who sell puppies from puppy farms. The measure would also help to increase the traceability of irresponsible owners should a dog be out of control in a public place.
However, the Kennel Club also views Defra’s package of measures as a missed opportunity to do more to hold the irresponsible owners of dangerous dogs to account for their actions. The Kennel Club has been lobbying for the introduction of Dog Control Notices as genuine preventative action, which would allow authorities to take action against irresponsible dog owners at the first signs of their dogs displaying aggression.
These pre-emptive measures would mean that ‘problem dogs’ and indeed, problem owners, can be addressed before a serious incident occurs.
The Kennel Club firmly believes this to be a more effective solution than the current legislation which ties up police resources in seizing specific breeds deemed to be dangerous regardless of the behaviour of the individual dog, rather than focusing resources on dogs of any breed that have actually displayed aggressive behaviour.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Communications Director, said, “The introduction of compulsory microchipping would be a bold move which would have far reaching benefits for dog welfare in this country. It would help the authorities to reunite dogs and owners more swiftly, to ensure that puppies sold in pet shops can be traced back to their breeder and to clearly link owners to dogs and their dog’s actions.
“However, it is not a catch all solution for protecting the public from dangerous dogs and their irresponsible owners, which can only be done by introducing measures to penalise irresponsible dog owners before an attack occurs. The time has come to stop wasting limited resources seizing innocent dogs deemed to be dangerous purely because of the way that they look and instead focus on positive solutions to tackle irresponsible dog ownership which has huge welfare implications for innocent dogs and puts the public at risk.”
The Kennel Club has welcomed some aspects of the ministerial announcement including Defra’s decision to extend the law to private property and to remove the mandatory requirement to seize and kennel all dogs suspected to be ‘of type’ under section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act.
Whilst it welcomes local authority and community projects to promote responsible dog ownership and the government’s commitment to invest in such measures, the Kennel Club does not feel that £50,000 will make a real impact in improving the current situation. The Kennel Club’s Charitable Trust has made several grants for such schemes, with individual projects alone costing in the region of £10,000. £50,000 shared throughout the UK is therefore unlikely to give local authorities sufficient resources towards improving measures to prevent dog bite incidents and protect the public from aggressive dogs and their owners.