Petition Repeal Breed Specific Legislation

The Government should repeal breed specific provisions in dangerous dogs legislation. We believe these provisions are a flawed approach to public safety and an ethical failing with regards to animal welfare.

More details

We are not satisfied with the response to previous petitions making requests relating to breed specific legislation, and the recent report by Middlesex University, commissioned by the Government at a cost of £71,621, has now cast doubt on one of the core assumptions of the Dangerous Dogs Act: that certain breeds of dogs are inherently more dangerous. The Government should therefore immediately repeal breed specific legislation.

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Parliament will debate this petition

Parliament will debate this petition on 6 June 2022.

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Government responded

This response was given on 13 January 2022

Simply repealing the breed specific provisions in dangerous dogs legislation with no other changes would increase the risks to public safety, which the Government is unwilling to do.

Read the response in full

I recognise that many people are opposed to the prohibitions placed on the four types of dog - Pit Bull terrier; Dogo Argentino; Fila Brasileiro and the Japanese Tosa. However, the Government must balance the views of those who want to repeal or amend the breed specific legislation with our responsibility to ensure that the public is properly protected from dog attacks.

Historically, pit bull types are powerful dogs which have been traditionally bred in the UK for dog fighting. Data gathered from 2005 onwards on fatal dog attacks show that pit bulls were involved in around one in six tragic incidents, despite the prohibitions that we have in place that have significantly limited the numbers of pit bulls in the UK. Furthermore, according to information from the Metropolitan Police, nearly 20 per cent of dogs found to be dangerously out of control in Greater London were pit bulls.

The Government, therefore, considers that a lifting of the restrictions on these types of dogs would more likely result in an increase in dog attacks, rather than contributing to any reduction in such incidents. This position is supported by the police.

Despite the general prohibitions on these types of dog, individual prohibited dogs can be kept by their owners or person for the time being in charge if a court judges that the dog is not a danger to public safety, subject to certain conditions, including being on a lead and muzzled in public.

In December 2021, Defra published research in collaboration with Middlesex University to look at responsible ownership across all breeds of dog. The research considers different approaches and the effectiveness of current dog control measures and makes several recommendations including specifically on improving the evidence base. The report will provide the basis for the consideration of reform in this area and the Government is already working with the police, local authorities, and stakeholders to consider the recommendations further.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Other parliamentary business

MPs ask Government about its plans to review dangerous dogs legislation

The Petitions Committee has written to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to ask what work the Government is doing to review laws governing dog ownership, including dangerous dogs legislation that prohibits certain types of dog.

Read the Committee's letter: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/8712/documents/88366/default/

The letter, from the Chair of the Committee Catherine McKinnell MP, follows the publication of Government-commissioned research by Middlesex University on responsible ownership across all breeds of dog.

Read Middlesex University's report: http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Module=More&Location=None&ProjectID=19861

The Government has said this report will provide the basis for its consideration of reform of dog ownership laws, and that it is already working with the police, local authorities, and stakeholders to consider the recommendations made in this report.

The Committee has asked the Secretary of State to provide more information about this work, and if and when it expects to publish proposals for reform of existing legislation governing dog ownership, including dangerous dogs legislation.

We will share the Government's response with you when this is received.

Steering group on responsible dog ownership created by the Government

The Government has set out details of a new steering group that has been established to provide advice on policies aimed at reducing dog attacks and promoting responsible ownership of dogs.

Read a letter from the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, setting out details of the new steering group: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/9393/documents/161039/default/

The Secretary of State has said that the steering group held its first meeting on 24 February, and work is underway to form specialist subgroups to help inform the steering group's advice to the Government.

The Government has said it expects the work of the steering group to be concluded in early 2023, at which point the Government will consider its advice.

Why has this steering group been established?

This steering group has been established following the publication of Government-commissioned research by Middlesex University on responsible ownership across all breeds of dog.

Read Middlesex University's report: http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Module=More&Location=None&ProjectID=19861

The Government has set out details of the steering group in its response to a letter from the Petitions Committee asking what work the Government is doing to review laws governing dog ownership, including dangerous dogs legislation that prohibits certain types of dog. The Committee's request for more information about the Government's work in this area followed a number of petitions, including the one you signed, calling on the Government to review the law relating to dog ownership.

Read the Committee's letter: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/8712/documents/88366/default/

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