Headlines: April 17th, 2009

Local authorities and police forces are to be given new guidance to help them to use laws to control dangerous dogs more effectively and to crack down on irresponsible dog owners. The guidelines have been produced by the Department for Environment in association with the police, the RSPCA and councils after ministers decided changes to the exisiting laws were not needed.

The new guidance includes an outline of current law on dangerous dogs, including explanations of the 1991 and 1871 Acts. It also sets out best practice for the police and local authorities as the main enforcement authorities. There is also information on how to identify pit bull terrier-type dogs and examples of existing effective local initiatives.
The Environment Minister, Jane Kennedy, said it was vital that people felt safe when they saw dogs out and about with their owners and the guidance would ensure that legislation designed to tackle irresponsible dog ownership was enforced effectively.

The Minister added: “We undertook a significant review of the legislation with the police in 2007 and it was clear that, while the legislation was sound, more needed to be done to raise awareness of the law and improve enforcement. This guidance is the latest part in our strategy to do just that.” She said that better enforcement of the current law, ideally through local partnerships, would be far more effective in tackling the problem of dangerous dogs than making amendments to the law.