Hundreds of ‘dangerous’ dogs killed after being seized by police – but feared many ‘needlessly euthanized’ | UK News
Hundreds of ‘dangerous’ dogs have been killed after being seized by police this year, new figures reveal – but concerns have been expressed that many have been ‘unnecessarily euthanized’.
A Sky News investigation found that more than 1,500 dogs have been destroyed after being detained under the Dangerous Dogs Act in the UK since 2019.
But the RSPCA warned that many dogs were being slaughtered under the controversial law “without any concern about their behavior.”
Four breeds are prohibited under the Dangerous Dogs Act; the Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, and Fila Brasileiro, but other types can be seized if they are dangerously out of control.
Last month Jack Lis, 10, was mutilated to death in Caerphilly, South Wales, by a dog identified as an American Tyrant or an XL Tyrant – which is not one of the four breeds banned in the UK.
His death came after nine-year-old Frankie MacRitchie of Plymouth, was killed in April 2019 by an American Bulldog / Staffordshire Bull Terrier crossbreed, also a non-prohibited breed.
A 55-year-old man died after being attacked by a dog in Angus, Scotland on Wednesday – but the breed was not confirmed.
RSPCA dog welfare specialist Dr Sam Gain urged the government to revise the Dangerous Dogs Act, which was introduced in 1991, and end “breed specific legislation”.
She said the dogs were seized and shot “on the basis of their appearance” and that “the vast majority of them will not pose a risk to public safety”.
Dr Gain told Sky News: âWe have had legislation for 30 years and we still see dogs being needlessly euthanized.
âThese dogs are ultimately euthanized because they look a certain way. They are not euthanized because their behavior poses a public risk.
âThere is no dog breed that is inherently aggressive.
“Whether or not you see aggressive behavior in a dog depends on how it was raised, how it was raised and its life experiences.”
What does the data show?
At least 5,333 dogs have been seized by police under the Dangerous Dogs Act since 2019, according to data provided by 29 forces.
A total of 1,525 “dangerous” dogs were destroyed during the same period, including 425 between January and November of this year, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act.
The total number of “dangerous” dogs seized and destroyed is likely to be much higher as Britain’s largest force, the Metropolitan Police, refused to respond on cost grounds, as did Gwent Police, who investigated on the death of Jack Lis.
Meanwhile, Scottish Police and the Northern Ireland Police Service (PSNI) said they did not have data on the seizure of dangerous dogs.
Of the forces that responded to Sky News, West Midlands Police have seized the most “dangerous” dogs with 1,465 in the past three years, while 359 dogs have been destroyed in the same period.
West Yorkshire Police said they have detained 467 dogs since 2019, of which 128 were shot, while Merseyside Police have seized 432 dogs and 95 have been euthanized.
Overall, the numbers suggest that the number of dogs seized and destroyed under the Dangerous Dogs Act has declined every year since 2019, which Dr. Gain said “may well be an impact of the pandemic.” .
“No vet wants to euthanize a healthy dog ââbecause of its appearance”
Dr Gain said the RSPCA had been forced to euthanize 310 dogs since 2016 because they were banned breeds.
She told Sky News that in many cases the dogs were “victims of cruelty and neglect” and could have become “very good, friendly pets.”
“It is very traumatic for our staff and our veterinarians,” added Dr Gain.
âNo vet wants to euthanize a healthy dog ââjust because they have a peculiar appearance. It is a huge emotional burden.
âIt’s also very traumatic for owners who in many cases very innocently acquire a puppy at eight weeks oldâ¦ and then that dog becomes a dog that looks like a forbidden guy.
“It is deeply moving.”
What do we know about the Dangerous Dog Act?
- The legislation came into force after six-year-old Rukhsana Khan was mutilated by a pit bull in a Bradford park
- After 11 horrific attacks in 1991, then Home Secretary Kenneth Baker pledged to ‘rid the country of the threat of these fighting dogs’
- The law prohibits dogs “belonging to types bred for combat”
- It became illegal to own four races; the Pit Bull Terrier, the Japanese Tosa, the Dogo Argentino and the Fila Brasileiro
- He also created a criminal offense of allowing any dog ââ(of any breed or type) to be dangerously out of control.
- The law was changed in 2013 to cover dangerously out of control dogs on private property
- Critics say there are no breeds predisposed to violence and the law does not emphasize the role of irresponsible property in dog attacks
- Research has found no reduction in incidents of aggressive behavior and dog bite incidents since the law was introduced, according to the British Veterinary Association.
Dog owner license calls and mandatory training
Dr Gain said the RSPCA has asked pet owners to need a license to own a dog, which would involve a small annual fee, to help improve safety.
A government-commissioned report revealed earlier this month that owners, not breeds, were to blame for dog attacks.
The study, carried out by Middlesex University, pointed out that German Jack Russell terriers, Labradors and Shepherds had been implicated in biting incidents, and it recommended that owners receive mandatory training as a condition of buying a dog.
It comes after a parliamentary committee warned in 2018 that certain legal dog breeds may pose the same risk to public safety as illegal breeds.
Next, the Committee on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs called for a review of UK dangerous dog laws which she says has failed to protect the public.
What is the government saying?
A spokeswoman for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told Sky News: “Dog attacks can have horrific consequences, which is why it is a criminal offense to allow n Any dog ââ- not just banned breeds – to be dangerously out of control.
“We welcome the findings of the Middlesex University report and will work with police and stakeholders to further consider the recommendations.”