Dangerous Dogs

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written statement – made on 16th April 2013.

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Photo of David Heath David Heath The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

On 9 April, DEFRA published a draft Bill amending the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 for pre-legislative scrutiny by the EFRA Committee.

The proposed amendments to the 1991 Act will extend the law to make it an offence for a dog to be dangerously out of control in any place, including all private property. The provisions make it explicit that a dog attack on an assistance dog, for example a guide dog for the blind or deaf, will be an aggravated offence. The changes will also make clear that the courts should take into account the character of the owner or keeper as well as the temperament of the dog along with any other circumstances when deciding whether a dog poses a danger to public safety.

The Government are determined to tackle irresponsible dog ownership and promote more responsible ownership with a range of measures and proposals. The two clauses in the draft Bill I have published propose important changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and are one element of the Government’s plans to address this issue. The Government’s statement on tackling irresponsible dog ownership on 6 February 2013, Hansard, column 15WS, set out the detail of other areas where we are taking action, including the compulsory microchipping of all dogs in England by 6 April 2016, the provision of a set of flexible powers and tools for police and local authorities to tackle irresponsible dog ownership in the context of antisocial behaviour and work with the animal welfare charities to tackle irresponsible advertising of pets on the internet.