THE Government has wasted the best opportunity to tackle irresponsible dog ownership in more than 20 years, claimed the RSPCA this week.
The country’s biggest animal welfare charity has accused Defra of ignoring the advice of the country’s dog law enforcement agencies, and instead launching yet another unnecessary consultation.
The RSPCA’s believes the coalition has broken its promise, set out in its ‘programme for government’, to ‘promote responsible pet ownership’ and that it ‘will ensure that enforcement agencies target irresponsible owners of dangerous dogs’.
The RSPCA also fear suggestions of an increase in the fee to have dogs put on the exempted register from £24 to more than £70 could lead to more people choosing instead to have their dog put to sleep rather than pay costs of up to an estimated £850 for it to be exempted.
RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said: “An extension of the law to cover private property, as well as public land, is a step in the right direction. However, along with compulsory microchipping of puppies, it is a purely reactionary measure that fails to prevent dog bites and attacks from happening in the first place.
“Britain’s dogs deserve better. Too many are abandoned and abused, demonised and dumped. All owners need to be accountable to their dogs, the irresponsible deterred and the abusive prosecuted. That is the approach we need to take. These proposals need to go a lot further to achieve that.
“It has been 21 years since the disastrous Dangerous Dogs Act was introduced. After years of watching the problem of irresponsible dog ownership spiral, this was the perfect chance for the current Government to make huge strides forward for dog welfare. Instead they have taken only the smallest steps and merely tinkered with a piece legislation that many people widely acknowledge is one of the biggest failures of modern politics.
“These measures not only lack bite, they raise major questions about how exactly they expect to effectively tackle the danger of irresponsible ownership to both people and animals.
“Animal rescue centres are filled to breaking point with unwanted, neglected and cruelly treated dogs. Irresponsible owners are continuing to make money from breeding dogs with little care for their health or welfare. Meanwhile, people continue to be put at risk of being attacked or injured by out of control dogs and their irresponsible owners.”