MPs on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has said that urgent changes to the law are needed to take "action on any dog related anti-social behaviour" and that they fear the government are not giving "sufficient priority" to dog control. It is estimated that 210,000 people in England are attacked by dogs every year and while the government have announced compulsory microchipping will be introduced in 2016 the committee said the proposals were "too limited" and "failed to respond adequately to public concern" with the government showing a "lack of corresponding commitment" to the large number of responses received from the public to its inquiry. They have urged DEFRA to rush a bill reforming laws relating to dog control and welfare and do more to improve dog welfare linked to breeding rather then relying on voluntary action. They have also recommended the dog attacks on guide dogs for the blind be treated in the same way as an aggravated attack on a person and asked for consistency from police in prosecuting the owners of dogs who attack livestock. The committee said "The high number of dog attacks demonstrates that the current legislation on dangerous dogs has comprehensively failed to protect the public from attacks by out of control dogs, many of which have had horrific consequences." DEFRA's response was that the annoucement on microchipping and plan to give police extra powers to investigate dog attacks on private property was enough while the Animal Welfar Act already regulates against pooer breding practices and animal cruelty. The Communications Workers Union who have campaigned for years to raise awareness of the dangers faced by postal workers and communication engineers backed the findings in the report describing it as a "far more comprehensive and satisfying response to the problems of dangerous dogs and the limitations of current laws" and adding that they hoped Westminster acted on the "excellent recommendations" in the report and took action to introduce preventative measure against dog attacks, such as dog control notices and to go further in addressing England's failing dog laws. Scotland have already tightened dog control legislation with enforcement officers able to impose sanctions on owners and extending criminal law to deal with attacks on private property. Owners can be forced to muzzle their dogs, keep them on a lead and attend training in dog-control techniques. In Northern Ireland, dogs are to be licenced and micro chipping has been compulsory since April 2012. It is a criminal offence to own a dog that attacks and injures someone elses pet. The Welsh Assembly Government has consulted on the compulsory micro chipping of dogs but has yet to make a formal decision on whether or not to proceed.
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