RSPCA Cymru is delighted that the First Minister has today announced the Welsh Government’s intention to introduce an Assembly Bill for the Control of Dogs, a measure the RSPCA has been calling for.
The First Minister detailed their plans to make key changes to the law governing dangerous dogs so that action can be taken where dogs attack people or other animals on any property.
We are delighted that the focus will be on dog behaviour, not breed, to include a strong education and training element for owners. In a draft Bill developed in conjunction with the other two enforcers, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the National Dog Wardens Association (NDWA), the RSPCA has long proposed that Dog Control Notices are a necessary preventative measure and as such we are particularly pleased to see these included in today’s announcement.
While today’s announcement is very encouraging, we urge the Welsh Government to link such measures with the current proposals under development for compulsory microchipping and importantly the need for a national annual registration scheme for dogs in Wales. Such a scheme can ensure that each dog is linked to its owner and also provide much needed funding for society’s many dog welfare issues.
Irresponsible dog ownership in Wales
RSPCA's external affairs manager for Wales, Claire Lawson said:
Make no mistake, the introduction of a Dog Control Bill is very warmly welcomed by RSPCA Cymru, as irresponsible dog ownership causes a plethora of problems in our communities today.
Status and dangerous dogs are not just a problem in London but appear to be an increasing problem for urban areas in Wales too, often associated with social deprivation, crime and anti-social behaviour.
The RSPCA also has concerns about a number of other dog-related issues including stray population management and dog overpopulation.
These problems and more are impacting not only on public and worker safety and animal welfare itself, but also on costs to the taxpayer including hospital costs and the like, which are currently unsustainable.
Prevention is key
We are particularly pleased that the Welsh Government has listened to the RSPCA and other stakeholders, especially those on the frontline such as the police, local authorities, and ourselves and have included early intervention measures in the form of dog control notices in their proposals.
At present dog control legislation often has no genuine proactive and preventative approach and enforcers have to wait until an incident occurs before stepping in and dealing with the animals and owners which doesn't protect the animal's welfare, public safety or the public purse.
Safety within the home
The extension of the law to cover private property is also a great step forward as many of the incidents in which adults and especially children have been attacked have taken place within the home where the dog had a right to be...However, while an extension of the law to cover private property is a step in the right direction it is also a purely reactionary measure that fails to prevent dog bites and attacks from happening in the first place.
The dog control notices will go a long way to help in terms of preventative measures, but essentially RSPCA Cymru returns to our core message once again - along with changes in the law, what is really needed is the overarching strategy of an affordable annual dog registration scheme.
This would be paid for by dog owners themselves and would provide the extra funding required for much-needed educational and enforcement resources which could be the key to successfully tackling irresponsible dog ownership once and for all.
Find out more about the RSPCA in Wales.
Read our blog post: Dog days in Wales.