MP’s call to overhaul dangerous dogs laws

A Battersea Dogs and Cats Home employee with a pit bull terrier which will have to be destroyed
A Battersea Dogs and Cats Home employee with a pit bull terrier which will have to be destroyed

Wigan’s MP has backed a leading animal rehoming charity’s demand for the law governing dangerous dogs to be overhauled by the Government.

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in London wants the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to be reviewed, as it says it is “flawed” and should instead target irresponsible owners.

Lisa Nandy MP has also said that animals that have not done anything wrong should be protected, while ensuring the public is fully protected from aggressive canines.

The calls come 25 years after the current law – which banned the pit bull terrier, Japanese tosa, dogo argentino and fila braziliero breeds based on their physical appearance – was introduced.

The London-based pets home says the law results in the “unnecessary destruction” of healthy and good-natured animals with “little added protection for people.

Ms Nandy said: “Despite the laws around dangerous dogs, dog attacks are still far too common. Last year the NHS spent around £3m treating victims.

“We need an approach that better protects people from dangerous dogs and ensures the welfare of innocent animals is protected.

“It should start with an understanding that the dog owner is primarily responsible for the behaviour of their animal.

“The vast majority of dog owners are responsible and loving carers for their pets and we shouldn’t let a tiny minority ruin it for everyone else.”

Wigan has seen a spate of serious dog attacks in recent years with the most horrifying incident being the death of teenager Jade Lomas-Anderson at a house in Atherton.

Last year, a four-year-old boy in Standish suffered a fractured skull after being attacked, and earlier this year Merrielle Hamilton suffered wounds to her hands trying to protect her own pet from a Staffordshire bull terrier.

Alarming recent reports show dog attacks are on the rise, with Greater Manchester Police seizing more than 300 dangerous animals since 2013 and around a quarter of a million dogs acting aggressively towards people every week.

Battersea’s research suggests the way dogs are brought up is extremely important in determining whether they are likely to attack people.

In the case of Jade Lomas-Anderson’s tragic death, courts were told the 14-year-old was mauled by a pack of dogs which were rarely walked, including one animal which was kept in a metal cage for long periods.

The RSPCA has already backed the call to reform the current laws, saying bans should be put in place on the grounds of behaviour rather than breed.

In response to Battersea’s research, a Government spokeswoman said: “Dog attacks can have horrific consequences for victims and families, so the prohibition of certain types of dog is crucial to help us deal with the heightened risk they pose.

“Any dog can become dangerous if it is kept by irresponsible owners.”