Writing in the Huffington Post the RSPCA’s political campaigner Violet Donohoe has said the organisition will not be “[popping] the corks just yet” over changes to legislation announced by the government. It is noted that the announcement came 2 1/2 years after the first public consultation and 22 years since the “knee jerk and ineffective” Dangerous Dogs Act but that the view is it probably wasn’t worth the wait. It had been hoped that the government would oversee a comprehensive reform of dog laws but instead they are looking at merely amending those already in place. And while the government seems to think that compulsory microchipping is the “silver bullet” to solve the problems caused by irresponsible dog owners the RSPCA point out that nearly 60% of dogs are already microchipped but details on databases are not kept up to date and registered owners contacted often claim they “gave the dog away years ago”. Vilet asks some key questions in her article. Will an owner’s details on the register be regarded as legal proof of ownership of a dog? Will it be made an offence to fail to keep a dog’s microchip up to date? If not then dogs will continue to suffer and irresponsible dog owners will continue to get away with it. Similarly it is all very well the government offering protection to those who are bitten on private property but this does little to stop the dogs biting in the first place. The RSPCA are keen to promote greater education of dog owners and the changes in the law simply don’t do that. Currently the RSPCA, the police and local authroities support the abolition or phasing out of breed specific legislation. In its current form the Dangerous Dogs Act names specific breeds which it considers “dangerous”. These bodies take the view that any dog regardless of breed or type can be dangerous and you need to look at the individual dog’s temprement and the reason for that temprement. There has been no indication that this part of the Act will be amended. Nor is there clarity on whether enforcement bodies will be given greater discretion on when and where dogs can be seized or if deadlines for the filing of behavioral assessments will be set to prevent dogs being impounded for months while investigations are carried out. It is apparent that the changes are far from what the RSPCA hoped for

RSPCA cautious about new dog laws
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