Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, has today welcomed the launch of a consultation issued by the Welsh Government seeking to amend sections of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 under devolved powers. The charity hopes that it may, at long last, signal some significant and effective changes to legislation in Wales.
The consultation, launched by John Griffiths AM, Minister for the Environment and Sustainability, seeks to address several issues; dog attacks on private property, the ability for Local Authorities to issue Dog Control Notices for owners who allow their dogs to be dangerously out of control in a public place and for dog on other animal attacks to also be made an offence. We are cautious about the proposal to make dog on animal incidents a specific criminal offence under the Dangerous Dogs Act and we would not wish to see responsible dog owners caught by such a law if their dog has merely acted in response to provocation from another animal.
Clarissa Baldwin, CEO of Dogs Trust said:
“Dogs Trust very much welcomes the steps the Welsh Government is taking to introduce new legislation which better protects the public and improves animal welfare in Wales. Preventing dog attacks in the first place is the key to ensuring better public safety and new measures are needed that would place more responsibility on the owners of aggressive dogs.
"We therefore particularly welcome proposals to introduce a series of Dog Control Notices which would see Local Authorities given powers to deal with the irresponsible owners of dangerous dogs, for example ordering for the dog and owner to go on a training course, for their dogs to be on a lead or muzzle in public places, or in severe cases, courts disqualifying irresponsible dog owners from keeping dogs altogether.
"However, while we enthusiastically commend the Welsh Government for taking positive steps to address issues of dog control in Wales, the fact remains that both they, and we, are dealing with a completely ineffective piece of legislation which needs to be repealed and replaced in it’s entirety by Government in Westminster. DEFRA consulted on parts of the Dangerous Dogs Act in May and we are still eagerly awaiting the outcome of that consultation.”