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Dogs Trust response to Defra’s announcement on Dangerous Dogs and Microchipping

Defra has today revealed plans to enforce every dog in the UK to have a microchip. Here is Dogs Trust's response:

Dogs Trust response to Defra’s announcement on Dangerous Dogs and Microchipping

23rd April 2012

Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, has expressed disappointment and frustration that a Written Ministerial Statement on tackling irresponsible dog ownership announced today has failed to effectively address two elements that the charity believes are vital to successful policy in this area – compulsory microchipping of all dogs to connect owners with their dogs and preventative measures to reduce the number of dog attacks.

The announcement today, which Dogs Trust believes will provide an outline for the government’s future proposals on dangerous dog law, has been long awaited and the charity had hoped that it would signal some significant and effective changes to dangerous dog legislation. It has taken over twenty years of campaigning to get the government to attempt to redress the mistakes that were made by rushing the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 through Parliament.

Dogs Trust believes that compulsory microchipping of all dogs should form a central part of any future policy on tackling irresponsible dog ownership. Microchipping will not prevent attacks but the charity believes that it is the most effective way to link a dog to its owner and to make irresponsible owners accountable for the actions of their dog. Microchipping all puppies is a step in the right direction but will mean that the effectiveness of any policy will be delayed by upwards of 10 years. Dogs Trust research shows that 83% of the UK population believe all dogs should be microchipped - it is hard to understand why government is so reluctant to take this step.

The charity is also concerned that this consultation makes little provision for the prevention of dog attacks. We would like to see the government identify ways to deal with irresponsible owners before an attack takes place, which could take the form of Dog Control Notices to keep dogs on a lead or muzzled in public places where necessary.
Dogs Trust does, however, welcome an extension of the law to private property as this would send a strong signal to owners who fail to keep their dogs under control that they could now face the full force of the law. The charity believes that the most severe attacks should be considered a criminal matter, while minor incidents should continue to be dealt with as a civil matter by the courts under the Dogs Act 1871, but with a power of compensation for the victims of dog attacks.
And finally, in the absence of a repeal of breed specific legislation, Dogs Trust would like new provisions to be introduced that would better improve welfare for dogs that could be deemed to be of ‘type’ by allowing responsible owners to make applications to Court for their dog to be registered and for Magistrates to be given a new power to allow a dog to be returned home on ‘bail’ pending a case being concluded.
 
Clarissa Baldwin, CEO of Dogs Trust, says:

“The Government has spent a great deal of time examining this legislation since it came to power and whilst we accept DEFRA has done their best to look at this issue, unfortunately, their best is no where near good enough.  Not good enough to better protect the public or good enough to improve animal welfare.

“Government must tackle this problem head on with completely new legislation rather than just tinkering around the edges.  We’re extremely disillusioned that there is nothing in the consultation on measures that will actually help to prevent dog attacks, which is surely what the aim of these proposals should be.  We seem to be waltzing along on this issue rather than the quick step we need to meaningful reform.

“We consider that the introduction of compulsory microchipping of all dogs, not just those born after a certain date, is the only way that we will see immediate welfare benefits and a reduction in the number of stray dogs in the UK. 

“Microchipping will not prevent dog attacks but it will allow the owner of a dangerous dog or a dog that was dangerously out of control to be identified by enforcement agencies. The act of microchipping is also a key intervention, providing an opportunity to advise owners about responsible dog ownership and the law.”

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