The Kennel Club, RSPCA, Dogs Trust, and Blue Cross have collectively released a statement urging MPs to reject calls from “misguided activists” that Staffordshire Bull Terriers be added to the list of banned breeds under the Dangerous Dogs Act.
The animal welfare organisations said that they strongly believe that current breed-specific legislation should be repealed and replaced with legislation which targets irresponsible owners rather than basing it on the appearance of a dog.
The issue is scheduled to be discussed in Parliament on Monday 16 July, after more than 155,000 people signed a UK Government and Parliament petition in defence of Staffordshire Bull Terriers in the space of just three weeks.
Last year, Staffordshire Bull Terriers were named the twelfth most popular breed in the UK based on Kennel Club registration figures. There is no scientific evidence that suggests the breed is any more dangerous than any other type of dog. If the government decided to ban this breed, tens of thousands of innocent dogs would be seized from their homes and held in kennels while the court system decide what to do with them.
The Dangerous Dog Act 1991 was introduced to try to reduce the number of dog attacks and bites by banning so called ‘dangerous’ breeds and types. Breed-specific legislation is based on the assumption that the breeds and types of dogs that are banned are more dangerous than the many other dog breeds.
In the UK, there are currently four prohibited breeds and types of dog: the Pit Bull Terrier type; Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasiliero.
Many countries have chosen to move away from a breed-specific approach to legislation on dangerous dogs. A number of European countries including Italy and the Netherlands have reversed breed-specific laws in recent years and a number of US states are looking to do the same. Italy repealed their breed-specific legislation in 2009 and replaced it with a piece of legislation that focuses on holding individual dog owners responsible.
The UK animal welfare sector said that “would urge our government to consider doing the same.”