Up until 1987 it was compulsory to have a dog licence. In Northern Ireland it is still a requirement. All dogs had to wear a collar and tag with the details of their owner and any dog found without a collar could be seized and wouldn't be returned without a licence being shown. The need for a licence was scrapped because it was estimated that less than 50% of owners complied with the law and it was also felt that the effort in enforcing the law was costing more than the revenue the licence brought in to the government. The Dangerous Dog Act and Environmental Protection Act were introduced in place of the licence system and were thought to offer adequate protection. In 2010 the RSPCA carried out a poll of 1000 people and found 76% were in favour of a compulsory dog registration scheme. Their view was that a scheme with the welfare and wellbeing of dogs at the heart of the scheme was required and that the benefits would include being able to reunite dogs with owners, control breeding practices and encourage responsible lifelong ownership. Critics of the proposed scheme point to the fact that this is the only formal survey on this issue which has been carried out and that as such it might not be truly representative of public opinion. The Kennel Club are not supportive and believe the scheme will penalise responsible dog owners. The Dogs Trust believe it unenforceable and favour compulsory microchip ping. It is also argued that compulsory dog licensing is a difficult thing to introduce. Not only would it require separate schemes for England, Scotland and Wales but ensuring these schemes worked other would be nearly I,possible. Critics will refer back to the old days of licensing where 50% of dog owners ignored the need. They argue that it is these 50% who are in all likelihood the irresponsible dog owners who cause all the trouble in the first place. Personally my view is that a combined approach of both microchipping and licensing is required. The licence should be renewed annually which means that there should be fewer cases where microchipped dogs are traced to owners who then use the excuse that they gave the dog away or sold it some time ago. The use of a microchip as well as the licence means the process of tracing dogs and identifying owners is one click of a mouse away. The cost of the licence needs to be increased. The increased fee could include the cost of an insurance premium so the dog is covered if it does cause injury. There are too many dog bite victims who we are unable to assist recover compensation because the defendant dog owner claims not to have insurance. In addition Housing associations and Councils need to ensure that if their tenants wish to keep dogs that they comply with the rules of licence, microchip and insurance. If money is an issue then reduce the cost of the fee if the dog undergoes a certified training course. It shouldn't be as easy as it is to own a dog. There need to be rules and regulations and a bit of red tape to make people seriously consider the decision they are making and whether or not ownership of a dog is the right thing for them. I don't think we are ever going to remove the threat of dog attacks completely but by giving the owners more to think about it might at least remove some of the bite.
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