Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors lends its support to a repeal of the Dangerous Dogs Act
The Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) is the latest animal behaviour and welfare organisation to lend its voice to the repeal of the Dangerous Dogs Act, 1991. In conjunction with recent reports from leading animal welfare charities such as the RSPCA, Blue Cross, and Battersea Dogs Home, the APBC fully supports the call for an urgent repeal of the Dangerous Dogs Act, 1991 which bans four type of dogs based on their looks rather than their behaviour.
Reports and videos from whistle-blowers on social media have shown how some of these dogs are poorly assessed and often sentenced to long periods of isolation. This process then leads to severe anxiety problems, potentially contravening the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
Rosie Barclay, chair of APBC, explains: ”There is no behavioural evidence to suggest that these dogs are any more ‘dangerous’ than any other breed of dog, as our own members’ ‘Annual Review of cases’ have shown.”
She adds: “The trauma for the owners and the welfare issues for dogs that are seized just because they look a certain way is simply inexcusable in this day and age”.
It is also evident from the RSPCA report that in the 25 years since the Act was introduced dog bite incidents have not been reduced.
Adding weight to the call to repeal the Act, Mark Evans, APBC patron, TV vet and broadcaster, says: “Labelling all members of any dog breed or type as ‘dangerous’ is unscientific, unjust and unacceptable. It’s also incredibly unhelpful in dealing with antisocial dog behaviour and damaging to the welfare of dogs.
“The way dogs behave in any situation is not just the result of their genetics. It’s also critically dependent on their life experience. For owned dogs, that is massively influenced by the way they are nurtured by the people who share their lives. Dogs and their owners should be judged by what they do, not who they are. It’s about deed NOT breed. Dogs deserve better.”
Dr. Kendal Shepherd, veterinary surgeon, certificated clinical animal behaviourist, APBC member, and expert witness in cases involving Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) also lends her voice to the argument to repeal the Act. She says: “Breed Specific Legislation has done nothing to prevent dog bite incidents and is unjustified and unscientific. However, we are at present ‘stuck with it’.”
Dr. Shepherd further states: ”In the interim, until such a time as UK legislators accept the overwhelming evidence that the law has not achieved what it set out to do, we should, at the very least, be ensuring that those dogs suspected being of a Pitbull type, are accurately assessed.”
Dr. Shepherd also points out that the authorities involved assume that there is a standard assessment in place but states ‘this is not the case”. She insists that accurate assessment must involve the creation of a universally agreed methodology, together with sufficient training and expertise – in both anatomy and behaviour – for assessments to be able to be relied upon by courts and the general public. She believes that this will hugely reduce the number of dogs seized, killed or put on the Register of Exempt dogs.
David Ryan, ex APBC chair and police dog handler, Home Office accredited instructor and expert witness in BSL cases commented, “A dog of any breed can become ‘dangerous’ (as defined by section 3 of the Act) but it is always as a result of how the dog is brought up or treated. Therefore it is both unscientific and unnecessarily prescriptive to label particular breeds as dangerous’.
For further details, please contact: Susan McKeon on 07792 279279 or the APBC media hotline: www.apbc.org.uk/mediahotline
NOTES FOR EDITORS
The APBC, founded in 1989, is the leading organisation in the field of companion animal behaviour and many of its members are at the cutting edge of the latest research into this rapidly growing discipline. The APBC organises a number of seminars and events throughout the year for both the veterinary and behaviour professions. Further information can be found at www.apbc.org.uk.