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Tory MP Calls For More “Nuanced And Pragmatic” Dangerous Dogs Act

Tory MP and vet Neil Hudson said the government should look at reforming the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. (Alamy)

4 min read

Tory MP Neil Hudson, who sits on the environment and rural affairs (EFRA) committee, has said that laws to protect against attacks by dangerous dogs “could and should be reformed” after a spike in fatal dog attacks.

More than a dozen deaths by dog attacks have been reported in the UK since November 2021, including five children. The American Bully XL breed, which is legal to own in the UK, was responsible for more than half of the deaths, leading to calls for the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to be expanded to ban a broader range of dogs. 

The most recent death from a dog attack was on 2 June after a woman in her 70s was killed in Warwickshire. Two people have been arrested on suspicion of owning a banned breed of dog, and being in charge of a dangerously out of control dog.

In May, The Express reported  that there had been a 34 per cent rise in dogs causing injury. In 2022 there were around 22,000 dog attacks, significantly up from 16,000 in 2018. 

“There has been much call for the current law on Dangerous Dogs to be changed to reflect ‘the deed not the breed’," Hudson, who is also the only vet in the House of Commons, told PoliticsHome

"I do understand these calls, but it is important to be aware that there are some dog breeds (as defined in the Act) that can be dangerous.

“I acknowledge that the Act could and should be reformed but perhaps in a more nuanced and pragmatic way to reflect the ‘breed and/or the deed.’

“Again, as a vet I take this issue very seriously and we should try to address this situation and improve and evolve legislation in a sensible and evidence-based way.”

Last week, Labour MP Bell Ribiero-Addy called for an overhaul of the Dangerous Dogs Act after a video surfaced on social media showing a woman being attacked by three dogs in a London park.

“Very concerned to hear news of the dog attack yesterday evening in Tulse Hill,” tweeted Ribiero-Addy.

“Police are currently trying to trace the owner. The rising number of dog attacks across the UK highlights the need to overhaul the Dangerous Dogs Act, which clearly isn’t working.”

Labour MP for Caerphilly Wayne David, who has had two fatal dog deaths in his constituency in the last two years, told PoliticsHome “incremental measures over a number of years” needed to be taken to ensure “a safe environment”.

David said the issue became particularly important to him after the high profile case of Jack Lis, 10, who was mauled to death by an American Bully XL in his constituency in November 2021.

“There are a number of first steps, particularly for introducing registering systems – registering system for trainers, for example, to make sure that animals are trained properly,” said David.

“Controls on who is able to buy dogs – for example, if they have a criminal conviction of cruelty to animals... it's like gun control.”

Other measures David mentioned included cracking down on illegal dog breeding, better regulation of dog farms, and a register of dog trainers – with a potential for dog licensing in the long term.

David also said an holistic approach on legislation and on "policing and criminality", particularly on the trading of certain dogs "illicitly", needed to be looked at by government.

On Monday, the department for environment, farming, and rural affairs (DEFRA) said it was working with police forces and local authorities to ensure existing dog control powers are implemented, as well as establishing a "Responsible Dog Ownership" working group with the police, local authorities, and animal welfare experts. 

A DEFRA spokesperson said: "We take the issue of dangerous dogs and fatal dog attacks seriously and are making sure enforcement measures are fully utilised.

"These measures range from Community Protection Notices that can be served for low-level anti-social behaviour to offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act – where serious offences can see people put in prison for up to 14 years, disqualified from ownership or their dog euthanised if they allow it to become dangerously out of control."

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