Response to Middlesex research into dog control in UK
A coalition of the UK's leading animal welfare and veterinary groups - made up of Battersea, Blue Cross, British Veterinary Association, Dogs Trust, RSPCA and The Kennel Club - has today welcomed a report; 'Investigation of measures to reduce dog attacks and promote responsible ownership amongst dog owners with dog control issues in the UK', compiled by Middlesex University, following a Government commission in November 2018.
Dr Samantha Gaines, secretariat of the anti-breed specific legislation coalition group and RSPCA dog welfare expert, said:
"We welcome independent research released today which casts even more serious doubt on the belief that certain breeds of dog are inherently dangerous, instead concluding that human behaviour is a key factor in dog bites and attacks. This research adds even more weight against breed specific legislation (BSL) and confirms the belief of many in the welfare and veterinary sector that breed specific legislation, which brands certain types of dogs as a greater risk to public safety, is flawed.
"This report found data around dog bite incidents to be lacking and record-keeping to be inconsistent across the country, also casting significant doubt on the evidence that the UK Government has been using to justify Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act, which incorrectly labels certain types of dogs as inherently aggressive and dangerous to public safety.
"We're pleased that after years of calling for change to this legislation, which has been echoed by academics, enforcement officers and the EFRA Committee, this independent research and report adds further evidence for the need for change and recognises that other factors, including human behaviour and particularly inappropriate behaviour around dogs, are key risk factors in dog bites and aggressive behaviour.
"Given these findings, it is now imperative that the Government uses them to inform an evidence-based, 'deed not breed' approach to future dog control strategy and moves away from the current breed-specific approach. This goes hand in hand with encouraging responsible dog ownership and owner education."
The report said:
Participants almost unanimously cast doubt on the idea that breed was a cause of dog attacks noting either that dogs are not inherently dangerous if properly socialised and engaged with using appropriate behaviours, or that all dogs could be dangerous if placed in the wrong situations and handled inappropriately.