Largest UK Dog Charity Hits Out at Dangerous Dog Proposals

Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity will tomorrow tell a Committee of MPs that the Government’s proposed Dangerous Dogs Amendment Bill has been hastily drafted, is extremely confusing and could end up criminalising responsible dog owners.

The charity will tell MPs that while it supports the proposed change to the law to allow an offence to be committed if a lawful visitor is injured by a dog on private property but that it is extremely concerned that the draft amendment Bill does not provide any exemptions from prosecution if the owner is not present at the time a dog attacks a trespasser. This does not protect responsible owners and their dogs in the event of, for example, a burglar injured after gaining entry to any non occupied residential dwelling. We believe that if someone enters private land without lawful authority there should never be criminal liability for the owner if their dog should injure the trespasser.

Clarissa Baldwin OBE, CEO Dogs Trust says:

“The original Dangerous Dogs Act was hastily rushed through in 1991 and is often referred to as one of the worst pieces of legislation ever to be placed onto the statute book. This is now the second amendment bill to this Act and we are concerned that if these new proposals are not properly considered, we could end up with another ineffective piece of legislation which doesn’t provide adequate safeguards for responsible owners.

It is right that the Government is taking steps to crack down on owners who allow their dogs to injure lawful visitors to their home but if someone is on private property unlawfully then it is absolutely ridiculous that an owner could be prosecuted if their dog injures or attacks that person because the owner isn’t at home.”

Dogs Trust will be giving evidence at the EFRA enquiry on Wednesday 22nd April and will cover the following points:

The charity supports the EFRA Committee’s recommendation to consolidate existing legislation and for an overhaul of legislation to take place which focuses more on prevention

Dogs Trust does not believe that overall the proposed measures provide a sufficient legislative base to tackle irresponsible dog ownership
The need for Dog Control Notices as opposed to just generic measures on anti-social behaviour
Dogs Trust’s concern with lack of exemptions regarding dog attacks on private property.

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