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More than 50,000 people have expressed support for the RSPCA’s campaign to #EndBSL

Organisations and individuals from around the world have backed the charity in its aim to put an end to the controversial legislation which currently prohibits four types of dogs being kept in the UK. In the four months since the campaign was launched, people have flocked to support the petition. In fact more than 52,000 people have backed the RSPCAs opposition of BSL – and that’s just in the last four months.

In August 2016 the RSPCA – which is the UK’s oldest and largest welfare charity – launched its campaign calling for the Government to hold a public inquiry into section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA). This uses breed specific legislation (BSL) to ban pit bull terriers, Japanese tosas, fila Brazilieros, and dogo Argentinos.

The campaign is called #EndBSL, and seeks to rais awareness of the thousands of dogs whose welfare is compromised by the law. It also seeks to highlight the fact that the legislation is ineffective at protecting public safety.

RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines - lead author of the charity’s BSL report ‘A Dog’s Dinner’ - said: “Our message is simple: BSL is ineffective in protecting public safety and results in the suffering and euthanasia of many dogs. We believe BSL should be repealed and issues surrounding human safety tackled using education and effective legislative measures that do not unnecessarily compromise dog welfare.

“Since publishing our report and launching our campaign in August - marking 25 years since the Dangerous Dogs Act was implemented - we’ve received support from around the world, not only from members of the public, dog lovers and people who have experienced the devastating effects of BSL first-hand, but also from other UK and international organisations, charities and bodies.”

More than 30 organisations worldwide have backed the need to repeal BSL, with support coming from places as far-flung as Australia, Japan and USA, including:
• Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC)
• Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC)
• British Veterinary Behaviour Association (BVBA)
• British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA)
• Deed Not Breed
• DDA Watch
• Dogs Trust
• Dutch Veterinary Behaviour Group
• EU Dog & Cat Alliance
• Eurogroup for Animals
• European Society for Clinical Veterinary Ethology (ESCVE)
• The International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultants (IAABC)
• The Kennel Club
• Massachusetts SPCA (MSPCA)
• People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA)
• RSPCA Australia
• SaveABulls

Experts have also expressed support for the #EndBSL campaign. They include Dr Emily Blackwell, Dr Emma Milne, Sarah Fisher, Anthony Head and Victoria Stilwell.

Dr Milne said: “The Dangerous Dogs Act, that came into force in 1991, was and remains one of the most pointless laws we’ve ever had. The fact is that dogs’ behaviour is dictated by so many factors beyond their breed.

“If we had used the last 20 odd years using the law to make people better dog owners it would have been a much better use of the law.

“The whole thing has been a mess for far too long and the time has come for the law to be repealed and for the politicians to try and do something constructive to improve the lives of dogs and reduce bite injuries.”

And Dr Valerie Jonckheer-Sheehy, chair of the Dutch Veterinary Behaviour Group, said: “Breed specific legislation will not resolve dog bite incidents.

“The focus must be on educating the public on dog behaviour and welfare, and ensuring that dog breeders breed healthy animals who are able to cope with the mental demands that they may be challenged within their day-to-day life.”

In another positive development, in December, the London Assembly unanimously agreed to support a motion recommending that the Mayor write to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs officially requesting an inquiry into the law.

“Hopefully, with the support of these wonderful organisations and the backing of tens of thousands of voices, we stand a chance of getting the Government to sit up and listen,” Dr Gaines added.

“It’s high time we made a change that will not only make the public in the UK safer, but will also ensure dogs are not punished for simply looking a certain way.”

The lives of innocent dogs and their owners are being blighted by BSL. In November 2016, Becky Hughes and her dog fell fowl of the law. Becky’s 18 month old Staffordshire bull terrier, Chesney – one of two dogs she owns – was seized by the police under Section 1 of the DDA. Chesney was returned to Becky after a few days under the interim exemption scheme, but Becky will now have to go through the legal process of having Chesney permanently exempted.

Becky said: “What doesn't make sense is that Chesney is being punished when he has done nothing wrong.

“I had no idea about BSL, what it meant, or how common it is? It baffles me. Even the police said Chesney is a lovely, friendly dog but look what the legislation is doing to him? It’s crazy.”

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