Andrew Rosindell calls for review of legislation because it singles out specific breeds, but not others which can be highly dangerous in the hands of irresponsible owners
The Dangerous Dogs Act, brought in 25 years ago in the wake of a child’s horrific death, has “never really worked” and should be overhauled, a Tory MP claims.
Andrew Rosindell, MP for Romford in London, who owns a Staffordshire Bull Terrier – or ‘Staffy’ – criticised the legislation because it singles out specific breeds, but not others which can be highly dangerous in the hands of irresponsible owners.
On Thursday, a three-year-old boy, Dexter Neal, was mauled to death in Essex by an American bulldog, which is not one of the breeds mentioned in the Act. Earlier in the week, 52-year-old David Ellam died from his injuries after being savaged by a neighbour’s “Staffy-type” dog, which had been returned to its owners only days earlier despite complaints that it was dangerous.
The Dangerous Dogs Act was introduced in 1991 after a six year old girl playing in a park in Bradford was killed by a pit bull terrier. Legislation to impose restrictions on four breeds – the pit bull, Japanese Tosa, Fila Brasileiro and Dogo Argentino – was rapidly pushed through Parliament by the then Home Secretary, Kenneth Baker. It has been frequently cited since as an example of a law passed in haste to appease public anger. The Act also made it an offence to own a dog that is “dangerously out of control”.
“You do need a complete review of this legislation. It’s simply not effective,” Mr Rosindell told the BBC’s Today programme.
He added: “It is impossible for authorities to check every single dog, but certainly if there’s one incident then that dog and that owner would then have to be checked and warned, and if there’s a second incident, then the authorities may want to take action. The problem is they only really have powers to act on those four breeds so they waste a lot of time on dogs that aren’t dangerous instead of dealing with the ones that are.“
”There are lots of breeds of dogs that can be just as dangerous as the ones listed in the Dangerous Dogs Act, so to get rid of this legislation to replace it with a more flexible form of regulation means that the police and local authorities could then focus on where there is a known dangerous dog or an irresponsible owner.“
A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: ”Any dog can become dangerous if it is kept by irresponsible owners in the wrong environment which is why the Dangerous Dogs Act covers any type of dog that is dangerously out of control.“