Will the government unleash another pitbull?

So the UK government is proposing more legislation and regulations affecting dog owners. This time to stop irresponsible owners and those who keep dogs ‘as a weapon’ or for fighting.

I don’t argue with the intentions, but once again we see government aiming to introduce poorly drafted, heavy handed measures that will impact on all dog owners. I have no concerns with micro-chipping: both our dogs are micro-chipped. I have no concerns with the concept of insurance, as both our dogs are insured, although it presents another opportunity for the insurance industry to raise premiums for existing policyholders.

What does concern me is that the people most likely to keep dogs as weapons or for fighting are unlikely to micro-chip their dogs or pay for insurance. If the dogs are kept for illegal purposes, do they ever get taken to a vet unless seriously ill? And who will police this, checking dogs are micro-chipped and insured? There are not enough services provided for dogs at the moment: most dog warden provision is purely an exercise in collecting revenue for councils from dog fouling with no real concern for the state of dog poo bin collection or anything else.

Presumably, using a dog as a weapon involves intimidating people or committing other crimes. Are there not existing laws to prevent this? Why aren’t the police taking action?

Unless human beings want to eradicate every form of life that creates any inconvenience, which includes every living thing that’s not human, we should recognise that dogs are living creatures needing exercise, stimulation and the chance to lead a life free from cruelty. At the moment, government and councils are anti-dog, seeing them as a source of cash from fines.

Most problems with dogs are caused by people: people who let their dogs foul pavements, who probably also drop litter which can harm both wildlife and young children who pick it up. I am sick of picking up dangerous litter dropped by humans. Last week a dog walker told me he had extracted a blunt Stanley knife blade from his puppy’s mouth dropped by kids. Problems are also caused by people who use dogs as weapons to back-up their own aggressive, malicious or illegal activities. They are a bigger problem than the their dogs.

These proposals seem to be yet another excuse to push the bigger, more fundamental problems aside, and appease the tabloids by doing something which sounds tough. If the people concerned knew they couldn’t get away with it, they wouldn’t keep aggressive dogs or use them the way they do. But they do know that they can get away with it. They know the police won’t stop them. They know that they can do anything they want.

So instead of dealing with the real problems, police and council officials will be fining ordinary dog owners for any reason they can think of.

My recommendation: focus on people and apply existing measures so that the perpetrators know they cannot break the law, ignore police and, what’s more, cannot abuse the dogs, which suffer most.

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