Opinion Former Comment: Mayhew Animal Home: GLAs government petition needs to go further for a resolve on dangerous dog issues

The GLA currently has a petition online, which they intend to submit to the government after its closure this Friday. The petition addresses the GLA's criticism of government failure to implement effective dog legislation. One of the clauses most concerning the authority is the need for a new law 'to protect people from attack, fear, intimidation and, in some cases, being mauled to death.'

Strong words indeed and The Mayhew is in total agreement that dogs should not be used to intimidate, attack, injure, main or cause the death of people and/or other animals. However, yet again the proposed measures are tackling the wrong end of the issue in question. As an organisation, The Mayhew believes that animal welfare issues and social issues are intrinsically linked and it is not enough to simply recommend action on 'dangerous dogs'.

The root causes of the problem lie much deeper and without significant change, tinkering with current legislation will still fail. It is not enough to use the phrase 'dangerous dogs' as an umbrella to campaign for new legislation, as the contributing factors are simply being ignored: indiscriminate and unregulated breeding, puppy farming, unregulated pet sales and the misuse of animals for anti-social behaviour.

The Government, DEFRA and the GLA need to look at why this issue is spiralling out of control and bring in measures to halt the animal overpopulation crisis facing the capital and UK in general. There are simply too many dogs and not enough responsible owners and until the breeding of and access to dogs is significantly curtailed, a dramatic change will not be seen.

The Mayhew believes that only an effective registration system for dog owners can be the start to an end of irresponsible pet ownership, over-breeding, unregulated pet sales and the misuse of dogs for anti-social behaviour, which are crippling both local authorities and animal welfare organisations alike.

What MP's need to take on board and implement, in brief:

- A repeal of breed specific legislation

- Introduction of a registration system for responsible dog ownership, which should include animals being neutered, micro-chipped, vaccinated, insured and their welfare checked regularly.

- Significantly tighter regulations placed on the trade in animals from pet shops, on the Internet and other forms of media, with priority given to the stricter monitoring of both registered and "backstreet" breeders.

- Government/local councils to invest in designated and trained personnel, such as Animal Welfare Officers, who can work alongside animal welfare charities, both with local residents and pet owners to prevent further escalation of this crisis and make our communities safer for animals and people alike.

- Government to consider funding neutering programmes, which presently many animal welfare charities strive to fund themselves with extremely limited resources

Caroline Yates, CEO


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