BULWELL’S Labour MP, Graham Allen, is taking the lead amid calls for the strengthening of laws governing the behaviour and ownership of so-called ‘dangerous dogs’.
Mr Allen is supporting a coalition of leading animal welfare groups, along with vets, charities and trade unions, who want more regulation to prevent rising dog-related violence.
Currently, dog breeds that are seen as dangerous are banned. But this is seen as insufficient in preventing dog attacks.
Mr Allen and animal charities are urging that the Dangerous Dogs Act be extended to private property, so that owners whose dogs behave aggressively at home can be prosecuted.
The MP said: “Many cases of dog violence happen in the home. The law needs to refocus its attention on dog-owners to ensure they act responsibly both at home and in public.
“In government, Labour launched a consultation on toughening existing laws on dangerous dogs, and 88% of the public who responded to the consultation indicated that they believed breed-specific legislation was inadequate for protecting public safety.”
Campaigners also call for dogs to be microchipped, so that owners can be identified when violent attacks occur. According to the Dogs Trust, there has been an increase in ‘status dogs’ — breeds seen as fashion accessories — being linked to anti-social behaviour.
Mr Allen added: “There have been cases of owners encouraging their dogs to act aggressively, then refusing to admit they are the dog’s actual owner. Thus this problem of identifying irresponsible owners is a real problem which government needs to address. If they were identified, they could be banned from owning a dog in the first place.
“We cannot wait until cases come rolling in. We must listen to these charities, update the law and prevent dog attacks from happening.
“If we make sure people behave in a responsible way, then we will see a decrease in dangerous-dog cases, saving lives and saving money.”