Join us in calling for an end to BSL

Saturday 12 August marks 26 years since the Dangerous Dogs Act and Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) came into force. We’ve been campaigning to #EndBSL which sees the needless destruction of hundreds of dogs every year, just because of the way they look.

What is Breed Specific Legislation?

The Dangerous Dogs Act exists to protect public safety. As part of the act, BSL bans the ownership of four different types of dogs in the UK. These are – pit bull terriers, Japanese Tosa, Fila Braziliero and the Dogo Argentino. Traditionally, these types of dog were bred for fighting.

Why does it exist?

BSL was intended to phase out the ownership of these types of dog by making them illegal and improve human safety by reducing dog bites. However, there is no robust research to demonstrate that these types are any more aggressive than other dogs, and, in fact, dog bites in England are on the rise. Between March 2005 and February 2015, the number of hospital admissions rose from 4,110 to 7,227, an increase of 76 percent, despite the legislation.

Tia’s Story

Tia the dog at an animal centre © RSPCA

Tia was brought into one of our centres after being abandoned. Her skin and ears were very sore from the neglect she’d received.

‘Despite the pain she suffered, she was such a great patient and it didn’t dampen her spirit.’ – Member of staff at the animal centre

She also knew very few training skills, like ‘sit’ or ‘wait’ and had to be taught. Understandably, Tia was shy and a bit worried at first. But it wasn’t long before her happy personality shone through.

‘Once Tia formed a bond with you, she loved you to pieces and would often call out for you if she saw you across a field so she could come and give you love!’ – Member of staff at the animal centre

When an animal comes into our care, they undergo a number of assessments and observations to assist with rehoming. Tragically, it was during these assessments that Tia was suspected of being a illegal type of dog.

Dogs suspected of being an illegal type are examined by Dog Legislation Officers. The dog is assessed against a standard which describes what that type of dog should look like. Genetics or the dog’s parentage are not taken into consideration.

The law states that it is illegal to sell, exchange or give away an illegal type of dog. To comply with the law, dogs that come into our care, or the care of any rescue centre, and are found to be of type must be destroyed regardless of their character. Many of these dogs would make wonderful and loving family pets but are never given the opportunity.

We know from first hand experience the devastation this ineffective law causes to everyone involved, from owners whose dogs have been seized, to RSPCA staff who bond with these dogs, which is why we’re urgently calling for a government inquiry into BSL.

‘Tia was a joy to be around. Excitable, loving and frankly just a 2 year old puppy trying to catch up on all she had missed. This beautiful, bright and sweet girl just wanted love and approval from her carers. We were heartbroken that she was found to be of type and had to be put to sleep. Such a waste of life for this little angel.’  – Member of staff at the animal centre

Join our campaign to End BSL

Help dogs like Tia by signing our petition, to demand that the government launch an inquiry into BSL. Over 66 thousand people have done so already.

We believe public safety and dog welfare is better protected by focusing on encouraging responsible dog ownership and education. We would like to see BSL repealed just like it has been in the Netherlands, Italy and Lower Saxony, Germany as well as many US administrations.

For more information on our proposed solutions and recommendations, read our detailed report; ‘Breed Specific Legislation, A Dog’s Dinner

To keep up to date with this and all our campaigns, please join our campaign network to receive e-newsletters.

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