UK: Bill to repeal breed-specific law moves forward

In the UK, the Dangerous Dog Act of 1991 bans four breeds of dogs: “Pit bulls,” Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, and Fila Braziliero. Lord Redesdale has introduced a private members’ bill, Dog Control Bill [HL] 2010-11, that would replace the DDA. Lord Redesdale’s bill is breed-neutral.

The bill has been moving slowly through the necessary stages; it has just passed the House of Lords report stage and will be scheduled for a third reading at the end of summer.

The bill may be tracked here: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2010-11/dogcontrolhl.html

Private members’ bills evidently rarely become law. Rather, such bills serve as a “test,” with the hope that the government will be inspired to take up and pass a similar bill.

Although Lord Redesdale’s private member’s bill has come a long way and has considerable support from major animal organizations, the statements made by the government during report stage testimony are difficult to unwrap. On the one hand, the government acknowledges this call for change to the DDA, but on the other hand, the government repeatedly states that it does not support Lord Redesdale’s bill. The government appears to be making plans of its own.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): I was rather hoping that I would be able to get away without intervening at all. The Government have made their views fairly clear at both Second Reading and Committee, when my noble friend Lord De Mauley dealt with this Bill. I will say very briefly again that we cannot give our support to this Bill, but we are well aware of the problems that it is addressing and are prepared to consider moving forward in due course.

As my noble friend Lord Redesdale mentioned, the House will be aware of the consultation issued by the previous Government towards the end of their 13 years in office-I think it was issued in about March 2010, just before the general election-and that concluded in June 2010. There were some 4,250 responses to that consultation, which Ministers are still considering. We published a summary of those responses in November 2010, and, as I said, we are still considering the right way forward. It is a matter that we want to discuss across government, because these matters are not just for Defra but for the Home Office and others. In due course, I hope that we will be able to have something to say, but we will not offer support to this Bill. It might be that, when the noble Lord seeks a Third Reading and moves that the Bill do now pass, that might be a moment when I might be able to say a little more. However, as I have made clear and as we made clear on earlier occasions, we cannot offer support to this Bill.

A good blog article about the current status of the bill can be read here: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/peterwedderburn/100091717/its-time-for-government-action-on-dangerous-dogs/

The Kennel Club (UK) has further information and a link to a petition: http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/item/3754/23/5/3

I encourage UK residents to reach out to their national lawmakers and the government to show support for Lord Redesdale’s Dog Control Bill [HL] 2010-11.

Thanks to Charlotte and KC Dog Blog for the update.

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