Closed 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 debated this topic

This topic was debated on 6 June 2022

Watch the petition 'Repeal Breed Specific Legislation' being debated

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.

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/

What happens next

The petition you have signed is currently waiting to be scheduled for debate.

As soon as the Committee has scheduled a debate on this petition, we will let you know.

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Dangerous dogs laws: MPs press Government on breed specific legislation

The Petitions Committee has written to the Government to ask what it is doing to review the effectiveness of breed specific provisions in dangerous dogs legislation. The Government has also been asked to respond to a number of specific proposals to reform this legislation.

Read the Committee's letter: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/22737/documents/167134/default/

In its letter, the Committee has asked:

  • What plans the Government has to gather evidence on the effectiveness of existing breed specific legislation, and the risks of banned breeds
  • How the Government will ensure that the welfare needs of all dogs held in kennels under the Dangerous Dogs Act are met
  • If the Government will consider allowing the rehoming of all dogs seized under the Act by responsible, reputable, rehoming organisations, where the dog has been found to pose no danger to the public
  • What the Government is doing to increase uptake by the police of the interim exemption scheme, which allows a dog to be released and returned to its owner pending a court hearing
  • If the Government will reform the law so that the dog is not subject to contingent destruction order, or any other requirements that do not apply to other dogs, where a dog has been found by the court not to pose a danger to the public

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

Debate on breed specific legislation

This letter follows a debate in the House of Commons on the petition you signed, which took place on Monday 6 June.

Read a transcript of the debate: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2022-06-06/debates/E7DC68B3-E1E5-449B-B922-F3333187C8FB/Breed-SpecificLegislation

Watch the debate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbMLb_xBUXg&feature=youtu.be

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Government responds to questions from MPs about breed specific legislation

Government responds to questions from MPs about breed specific legislation

The Government has responded to a letter from members of the Petitions Committee, challenging the Government’s position on breed specific provisions in dangerous dogs legislation.

Lord Goldsmith, a Minister at the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, defended the current laws – despite widespread concerns raised by hundreds of thousands of petitioners.

MPs on the Commons Petitions Committee have expressed disappointment about the Government's response, and called for the Government to reconsider its decision not to review breed specific legislation.

Background

In June MPs on the Petitions Committee wrote to Jo Churchill MP, a then Minister in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, expressing concern about the impact of breed-specific legislation – which bans the ownership of certain dog breeds – and the cost these provisions in the law had for some dogs.

The MPs put a number of questions to the department – including asking the Government if they’ll gather new evidence to help decide if reform is needed on the legislation, and how the Government will ensure welfare needs of all dogs held in kennels under the Dangerous Dogs Act are met.

The Committee also sought confirmation from the Government about what they were doing to protect dogs seized under the Dangerous Dogs Act who are subsequently found by a court to pose no danger to the public. The Committee asked if the Government would consider allowing the rehoming of such dogs by responsible organisations, and the removal of strict conditions that apply to all dogs of a banned breed that are allowed to return home.

Debate on breed specific legislation

This correspondence follows a debate in June on a petition calling for breed specific legislation to be repealed. The debate was opened by Christina Rees, and DEFRA Minister Jo Churchill MP responded for the Government.

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