U.K., Ireland may stiffen dog regs

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November/December 2009:

 

LONDON–Stricter regulation of dog
breeding may be imminent in the United Kingdom
and Ireland, after an exponential increase in
dangerous dog incidents. London deputy mayor
Kit Malthouse has asked that all “bull breeds” be
banned, to curb the proliferation of “canine
weapons that terrorise the streets of Peckham,
Toxteth and Moss Side.”
The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 banned “pit
bull terriers,” but exempted Staffordshire
terriers, and imposed on police a cumbersome
procedure for distinguishing illegal pit bulls
from legal Staffordshires. Thus the ban has never
been vigorously enforced.


Of six toddlers fatally mauled by dogs in
Britain 2007-2009, three were killed by pit
bulls, two by Rottweilers, and one by an Akita.
At least one of the pit bull victims was killed
by a dog reportedly kept for illegal breeding.
There was already rising pressure to
regulate breeders, largely due to the August
2008 BBC exposé “Pedigree Dogs Exposed.” Six
weeks after the exposé aired, the Kennel Club
announced that it would redraft the show
standards for 209 breeds to eliminate rules that
favored dogs with extreme and unnatural
characteristics which might impair their health.
Scotland Yard expects to seize more than
1,000 dangerous dogs by the end of 2009, 800 of
them in London, after impounding 719 dogs in
2008 and an average of just 45 a year between
2002 and 2006, wrote Cahal Milmo, chief
reporter for The Independent. “In the past five
years,” observed Malmo, “hospital admissions
for dog bites have risen by 43% across the U.K.
and by 79% in London. Battersea Dogs Home says
bull breeds now account for nearly 50% of its
‘inmates,’ a proportion that has doubled in five
years.”
Noting the presence of 249 unlicensed dog
breeding kennels in Wales, Welsh rural affairs
minister Elin Jones on November 11 promised to
review the applicable legislation.
Six hundred Northern Irish dog breeders,
rallied by Canine Breeders of Ireland, meanwhile
asked the Department of Agriculture to ban people
who have been convicted of cruelty or neglect
from keeping animals. The Republic of Ireland
exports as many as 1,000 puppies per week to
Britain via Northern Ireland, Fionola Meredith
of The Irish Times reported in October 2009. The
breeders believe their sales may be harmed by
exposés of negligent competitors.
“Lack of effective legislation both north
and south of the border leaves animal welfare
workers frustrated,” Meredith wrote. “In the
Republic, legislation to regulate large-scale
commercial dog breeding has been promised since
2006.” However, environment minister John
Gormley “says the legislation will be published
and enacted by the end of 2009,” Meredith said.

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