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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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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.

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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

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