The Dangerous Dogs Act is a flawed reserved piece of legislation which was rushed through Westminster years ago in the midst of a press fuelled panic about American Pitbulls.
The SNP have led Scotland ahead of England and Wales in protecting animal rights, and in control of dogs. The SNP and Scottish Government are continuing to do what we can to promote the highest animal welfare standards.
The Scottish Government has modernised the law on control of dogs, in order to tackle the problem of irresponsible dog ownership.
The Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 was designed to highlight the responsibilities of dog owners by putting in place a regime that identifies "out of control" dogs at an early juncture and provides measures to change the behaviour of these dogs and their owners before they become dangerous. The UK Government should follow this approach taken by the Scottish Government
The focus of the Act concentrates on the "deed not the breed" approach in tackling irresponsible dog ownership and out of control animals.
The Scottish Government has also introduced a national DCN database which is helping independent enforcement agencies (local authorities and Police Scotland) access information on dog owners who allow their dogs to be out of control.
The Scottish Government also carried out a marketing campaign on dog control with the Scottish SPCA in 2021. This campaign has since been re-run on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on a number of occasions and directs the public to information about ‘The law on controlling your dog’ on the mygov.scot website at: Controlling your dog in public - mygov.scot This website makes clear that dog owners are responsible for the actions of their dog, and the sets out potential penalties for failing to control dogs.
In Westminster, two SNP MPs attended the Breed Specific Legislation debate on the 6th of June 2022
During the debate Dave Doogan MP said: “Focusing on the four breeds set out in the legislation gives an easy ride to dangerous dogs that are not one of those breeds. The SSPCA is clear on this point and says that it is fully supportive of legislation to protect the public, as we all are. It believes that any breed of dog that is out of control is a dangerous dog in the wrong hands, and that the legislation does not really reflect this. In essence, the SSPCA wishes to see section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act amended so that dogs are judged on the deed, not the breed, which is a helpful way of encapsulating the situation. It would mean that dogs are put to sleep only if they pose a demonstrable risk to the public, rather than because they are a certain type of dog, which is an arbitrary qualification.”
Dr Lisa Cameron MP said: “It is important that we look at the correct risk factors, but the more that the Government focus on breed-specific regulation, which has been shown to be unscientific in outcomes, the less likely we are to look at the real risk factors, such as puppy farming, trauma, abuse and lack of training, which need to be addressed to protect the public. That is the route that we should be taking.”
SNP MPs at Westminster will continue to pressure the UK Government to update animal welfare legislation to be more in line with the ethical and sentience rights of animals to improve their welfare standards and ensure specific dogs are not penalised because of their breed, but rather an accumulative approach assessing standards of care provided by their owner.